Commentary: Holding Glenn Beck's Mercury One charity accountable

The Fort Worth Star-TelegramJuly 6, 2012 

Author and entertainer Glenn Beck brings his circus to Arlington on July 28.

Fine.

Just don't fib about it.

He says his Cowboys Stadium event will be a charity evening of "reflection" and inspiration.

But don't ask questions about the "charity."

Beck's event is named Restoring Love. It's a three-day Beckfest of revivals, Tea Party rallies and publicity stunts, all to restore the American spirit while also reviving love and attention for Beck, his books and his $40-million-a-year publishing and webcast empire.

Officially, the event raises money for Beck's cause, Mercury One.

According to records, Mercury One was founded eight months ago in New York and now operates from a Dallas postal box.

The Internal Revenue Service granted Mercury One tax-exempt status. It's a Section 501(c)(3) public charity.

But how public is it?

Until recent weeks, Mercury One's website, mercuryone.org, listed only one board member: President Joe Kerry, a former New Jersey lawyer and the senior vice president of Beck's company.

Lately, Mercury One has listed two more board members: Tania Beck, Glenn Beck's wife, and Aledo religious author and speaker David Barton, a former Texas GOP vice chairman.

I don't know about you. But to me, this doesn't sound like philanthropy.

Both the Better Business Bureau and the New Jersey-based evaluation group Charity Navigator say charity boards should have at least five members, with only one -- not the board president or treasurer -- earning pay or benefiting from activities.

In an e-mail, spokeswoman Sandra Minutti of Charity Navigator wrote that Mercury One's website is "very vague" and that the charity would lose points on accountability and transparency.

The website doesn't say how Mercury One has spent donations.

But it does offer "Brunch With the Board."

For $285, donors can meet Barton, Kerry and Tania Beck on July 28 at an Arlington hotel to hear how they will "revolutionize the way people look at and interact" with charities.

Beck says he wants Washington held accountable.

I want to know how to hold him accountable.

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