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July 27, 2005
Air America Took Money From Poor Kids & Alzheimer Patients

Radio Equalizer and Michelle Malkin have followed a scandal in New York that, given the involvement of the nationally-broadcast Air America, should have received national media attention by now. It turns out that the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Clubs almost had to shut its doors following a funding shortfall despite receiving a half-million dollars in grant money and much more in city contracts, getting rescued at the last moment by other independent groups. The $500K in grant money had been loaned out -- to Air America:

The nonprofit Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club and its affiliate Pathways for Youth found their city contracts, running into the millions of dollars, abruptly ended last month by the city Department of Investigation. ...

He said he and other elected officials are still in the dark over the exact nature of the probe.

In its initial announcement, the DOI said it was probing allegations that program officials "approved significant inappropriate transactions and falsified documents that were submitted to various city agencies."

According to published reports, the allegations involve Charles Rosen, the founder of Gloria Wise who has stepped down as executive director, investing city contract funds in Air America Radio, the liberal talk radio network.

Evan Cohen, Air America's former chairman, had served as Gloria Wise's director of development.

Evan Cohen appears to have sold Gloria Wise a bill of goods in its investment in Air America. First, given AA's performance, anyone putting that kind of money into it and expecting to even see the principal ever again has to be out of their minds. Second, the grant money involved was earmarked for Alzheimer's patients, senior citizens, and a mentoring program. Even if AA sounded like a brilliant investment, earmarked grant money has to go to the specific programs it intends to fund, not a flyer on some hot stock tip.

Evan Cohen's involvement on the board of Gloria Wise and his position at AA makes this decision a massive conflict of interest. Cohen had struggled to maintain his position with the netlet after it became clear that the enterprise had not captured much audience even in the more liberal areas it served. Advertising revenues remained very weak and the corporation barely eked out an existence on donations, making it a poor (and badly-behaved) cousin to NPR. If Cohen used his position on the board at Gloria Wise to misdirect government funds, then AA needs to cough up the money immediately, and any ties Cohen has to other non-profits should be thoroughly investigated.

Has Air America paid back the loan, or even made preliminary payments? We don't know; AA hasn't issued a statement, and more curiously, the national media hasn't asked them. The only papers covering this story are the New York Daily News (but not in its national paper) and the Gotham Gazette, a local newspaper for New Yorkers covering the borough beat. It seems to me that if Salem Radio or Clear Channel had taken money from poor children and Alzheimer's patients to stay on the air, we would hear about that from all major media outlets within nanoseconds of it coming out.

So why haven't we heard about this scandal from the Exempt Media?

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 27, 2005 5:33 AM

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