Vetting Romney's $3 Million in Charity

The GOP front-runner has given to many institutions, including the Mormon Church, a treatment center for MS, and an anti-gay group.

| Fri Feb. 3, 2012 7:00 AM EST

In 2010, Mitt Romney and his wife gave just under $3 million to charity, or about 15 percent of their $21.6 million income. That's a sizeable sum even by 1 percenter standards, which is why Romney's backers say it's unfair to castigate him for exploiting tax loopholes. "Mr. Romney's taxes reveal the most generous charitable donor to run for president in recent memory," writes National Review's Mona Charen.

But generous towards whom? Just over half of Romney's 2010 giving went to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The Romneys didn't have much choice there: The church requires Mormons to tithe 10 percent of their income to remain members in good standing. The rest of the money went to the Tyler Foundation, a 501(c3) nonprofit funded exclusively by the Romneys. Though most of its donations defy criticism, others aren't exactly middle of the road.

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In 2006, for instance, Romney's foundation gave $10,000 to the anti-gay Massachusetts Family Institute, which believes that sexual orientation is a choice that can be cured by what critics call "pray away the gay" programs. In 2009, it gave $25,000 to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a year after its chairman, Seamus Hasson, compared marriage-equality activists to Al Qaeda. And of course, the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints heavily campaigned in favor of Proposition 8, the California ballot measure that outlawed same-sex marriage but was later deemed unconstitutional.

What follows is a complete list of the 2010 charitable donations disclosed by Romney's Tyler Foundation, with notes about the ones that pull double duty as political statements. (Click here for a look at Newt Gingrich's charitable donations.)

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints: $145,000

Belmont Hill School: $5,000
All five of Romney's sons attended the Belmont Hill School For Boys, in Belmont, Mass.

Best Friends Foundation: $5,000
A program for troubled adolescents that advocates sexual abstinence. It is run by the wife of William Bennett, who served as Secretary of Education under Ronald Reagan. Bennett's syndicated radio program, Morning in America, has been known to incite controversy. Responding to a listener in 2005, Bennett said that aborting all African-American babies would be "a morally reprehensible thing to do, but the crime rate would go down."

Boys and Girls Club of Boston: $10,000
Romney campaigned at a Boys and Girls Club last month in New Hampshire.

Brigham Young University: $25,000
Romney's alma mater

Center for the Treatment of Pediatric MS: $75,000

Romney's wife, Ann, was diagnosed with MS in 1998.

Also: MS Cure: $10,000

City Year: $5,000
A tutoring program for at-risk youth in Boston. Its board of directors is dominated by executives from high finance, including Bain & Company, Romney's former private equity fund.

Dana Farber Cancer Institute: $10,000
In 2010, Ann Romney was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer

Dana Farber Pan Mass Challenge: $20,000

Deseret International: $25,000
Provides medical services to the blind, lame, and disfigured in the developing world. It has close ties to the LDS church.

Friends of the Belmont Council: $20,000
Boston-based charity offering services to senior citizens

George W. Bush Library: $100,000
Romney "wanted to show his appreciation to George W. Bush," a Romney advisor explained last month.

Harvard Business School: $10,000
Romney is an alum.

Camp High Hopes: $5,000
A camp for special-needs children

Homes for Our Troops: $20,000
Builds specially adapted homes for severely injured veterans

Inner City Scholarship Fund: $10,000

Joey Fund for Cystic Fibrosis: $20,000

MMOFRA TROM Foundation: $30,000
Provides humanitarian aid to countries damaged by natural disasters and war

Operation Kids: $65,000
Directs money to other charities that serve children

Right to Play: $10,000
Promotes youth sports in developing countries

US Equestrian Team Foundation: $10,000
Helps fund training of the US equestrian team for the Olympics. Romney first gained fame for his handling of the Olympics in Salt Lake City.

Wright Museum: $2,500
Museum of WWII history

(Click here for a look at Newt Gingrich's charitable donations.)

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