Sunday, November 10, 2013

NYT: Pallotta: Call Me an AIDS Profiteer not 'A Queen'

(Credit: Ben Sklar, the New York Times.)

Before we get to the meat of this post, allow me to honor the brave AIDS activists the late Steve Michael and Wayne Turner of ACT UP/DC, and gay journalists Timothy Cwiek of Philadelphia Gay News, Jim Provenzano of the Bay Area Reporter and Stuart Timmons of POZ for ignoring Dan Pallotta, pictured, calling them heretics for questioning his profiteering from marathon AIDS bike rides.

The New York Times never reported on the complaints of people with AIDS and charity watchdogs, when AIDS service organizations contracted with Pallotta to stage the AIDS rides and millions of dollars intended for PWAs and at-risk folks made their way into Pallotta's sizable bank accounts, instead of direct services.

On Friday the Times published a special section, Giving, about the charity world and writer David Wallis interviewed Pallotta, who made a startling confession. After years of denial, Pallotta admits he's an AIDS profiteer, a blasphemy he ran away from when ACT UP, PGN, BAR and POZ said he was a greedy commercial fundraiser.

The interview, titled Gadfly urges a corporate model for charity, curiously omits the reasons Pallotta faced numerous lawsuits:

Mr. Pallotta, one of the most controversial figures in the nonprofit sector, previously ran Pallotta TeamWorks, a producer of fund-raising events, including the California AIDS Ride and the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. Mr. Pallotta’s company rose to great heights — more than 300 employees and a sleek 47,000-square-foot office near Los Angeles — then collapsed. He shut his company in 2002 after lawsuits with former clients. 

Let's get to the quotes of interest:

Q: You begin your book with a George Bernard Shaw quote: "All great truths begin as blasphemies." Do you identify with any historical figures who fought charges of blasphemy?

A: [....] My friend, David Mixner, a huge leader in the civil rights movement who was willing to talk about gay people getting married and having kids years before it was anything other than heresy.

Q: Some critics describe you in pretty uncharitable terms. What’s the worst name you’ve been called?

A: The worst thing I’ve been called is the queen of AIDS profiteering. I don’t really mind being called a profiteer, but I really object to being called a queen.

Ain't that the funniest thing you've ever heard from AIDS and nonprofit industry profiteer Pallotta? He doesn't want to be labeled a queen. The man is a piece of work.

Speaking of profiting off AIDS and commercial fundraisers and AIDS service organizations, a reminder that Craig Miller's MZA Events last year skimmed 58% of proceeds from the San Francisco AIDS Foundation's AIDS Walk in Golden Gate Park. On the East coast, Matthew Katz of reported this news earlier this year:

The city's AIDS Walk raises more than $5 million each year for HIV/AIDS prevention and advocacy efforts — but in recent years more than a third of the funds have gone to pay expenses and fees at the for-profit company that helps organize the event, New York has learned.

MZA Events, a private company that organizes AIDS Walks around the country, has received free office space and millions of dollars a year from the nonprofit Gay Men's Health Crisis to plan the New York City AIDS Walk — all while eating up 35 to 40 percent of annual donations in expenses, sources said.

I wonder if Craig Miller would agree he's like Pallotta and accept the AIDS profiteer label. The two of them have much in common. And the AIDS beat goes on . . .

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