We've written in the past about the phenomenon of "moral balancing," where a person who is less than righteous in one area tries to compensate in another. So news of Arthur Samberg and his Pequot fund and their $28 million civil settlement with the SEC on insider trading charges (without admitting or denying wrongdoing) sent me scrambling for the annual Form 990 of the Samberg Family Foundation.
It makes for some interesting reading. The private foundation had about $70 million in assets as of November 30, 2008. It paid annual compensation of $104,089 to Mr. Samberg's daughter for her work as a director of the foundation and $312,266 to the foundation's president. But the real stunner is on the foundation's list of grantees -- $250,000 to an outfit called Jewish Funds for Justice. The Samberg Foundation Web site says the foundation has been giving grants to the Jewish Funds for Justice since 2002.
What is Jewish Funds for Justice? With all the problems facing the Jewish people and America -- the threat of an Iranian nuclear attack on Israel, assimilation and a dwindling, aging American Jewish population -- Jewish Funds for Justice is a Jewish charity that has been busily devoting itself to, of all things, an aggressive campaign against one of the most popular (and, incidentally, pro-Israel) television and radio personalities in the country, Glenn Beck. The president and ceo of Jewish Funds for Justice, Simon Greer, wrote an op-ed last month for the Washington Post Web site calling Mr. Beck a "con man." And the Jewish Funds for Justice Web site brags on its home page that it "staged the Internet's first 'Twitterstorm' last week, flooding Glenn Beck's Twitter account with some 3,000 haiku - Tweeted one by one, minute by minute - in support of social justice." They've set up an entire Beck-bashing Web site to defend what they call "social justice."
The Samberg Foundation's president, Jerry Levine, is listed as an executive committee board member of the Jewish Funds for Justice. The Jewish Funds for Justice tax return also lists grants to ACORN ($10,000) and to the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (notwithstanding its name, an anti-Israel lobby) ($1,500).
Just to put all this in perspective and offer some disclosures, let me say that Glenn Beck has been good to me lately. I think there's a good economic case to be made for relaxing or getting rid of the insider trading rules altogether, though, so long as the laws are in place, the law is the law, and the behavior detailed in the SEC complaint against Mr. Samberg and Pequot (which is worth a full read) is not anything that I defend. I donate to and admire some of the other charities that the Samberg Family Foundation supports, and one of the foundation's largest grantees is a project of one of my former partners in the old New York Sun. But discounting for all of that, there's just something about the family foundation of a guy who just paid $28 million to settle an insider trading case funding an organization called the "Jewish Funds for Justice" which is running around accusing Glenn Beck of being "con man" — well, it's enough to make a person shake his head in wonder.