Responding to a report that NPR was closer to accepting a $5 million donation from a phony Muslim group than previously acknowledged, NPR released e-mails to TPM backing up their claim that they had refused the money.
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In their initial statement after hidden camera footage of their executives lunching with the fake foundation, NPR said that "The fraudulent organization represented in this video repeatedly pressed us to accept a $5 million check, with no strings attached, which we repeatedly refused to accept." The Daily Caller reported Thursday evening on emails in which NPR executives said they were "awaiting a draft agreement" from their legal counsel on the donation, raising the question of how far down the line negotiations had proceeded.
NPR spokeswoman Anna Christopher told TPM via e-mail that the agreement "never got beyond the internal drafting stage - and was never sent. Period." To back up her claim, Christopher provided TPM with four pages pages of emails in which CEO Vivan Schiller, who resigned Wednesday, and her staff discuss a potential donation from MEAC, the fake Muslim group created by James O'Keefe's Project Veritas to infiltrate NPR.
In an e-mail dated March 3, sent by the recently resigned Schiller to Betsy Liley, who appears in the two O'Keefe tapes, and two other staffers, Schiller suggests that MEAC is behaving oddly and that she can't accept a donation without further information -- despite pressure from the group to take the money immediately. She also correctly notes that MEAC's information would have to be provided to the IRS, resolving an issue that Lilely appears to have left unclear in a conversation with a phony Muslim donor depicted in the most recently released video.
"I spoke to Ibrahim," she writes. "He says they ARE a 501c3. And then he added... "I think". I told him we would need to know for sure AND we would need to look at the 990 as we do for any first time donor. He stressed that they want confidentially and I told him what Joyce told me - that it would not need to be reported in the public part of the 990 but it would need to be reported to the IRS, including the name of the donating institution. He had questions on all of the above which I said I simply don't have the expertise to answer but that one of our lawyers could. He repeated again that they want to deliver the check. I said that's very generous but we really need to sort out these issues first. He said is there a problem - and I said I don't know till we can see the 990. He seemed a bit worried that there was some subtext to our hesitation."