Right-Wing Billionaire Sponsors Sterilization For Drug Addicts
By CLARE O'CONNOR
Forbes | October 19 ,2010
Richard Mellon Scaife AP Photo/Keith Srakocic
Last night, the UK’s BBC aired the story of a 38-year-old heroin addict called John, who became the first person in England to accept cash to be sterilized. For £200 ($320), he agreed to a vasectomy, paid for by US charity Project Prevention. The North Carolina non-profit and its founder Barbara Harris are now at the center of an ethical row, with critics in England calling her work “utterly wrong”, “immoral” and “exploitative”, posing “the risk of a slippery slope towards Nazi-style eugenics.” The charity has already paid more than 3500 American drug addicts in exchange for sterilization, and plans to move on to Australia next.
What the UK papers have failed to mention is the money man behind this controversial scheme. Far-right republican billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife — heir to the Mellon family oil and banking fortune — is one of Project Prevention’s main donors.
“I met him years ago,” Harris told Forbes last month, during research for Scaife’s Forbes 400 rich list profile. “It was an honor.”
Scaife, owner of right-leaning newspaper the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, has a history of bankrolling conservative causes. He generally keeps a very low profile. However, last week, Vice President Joe Biden cited the Pittsburgh-based billionaire during a speech on the fundraising abilities of GOP groups, who have been vastly outspending Democrats during this election cycle. Just a handful of Republican Forbes 400 members have financed Karl Rove’s American Crossroads PAC. While Scaife isn’t listed as a donor, Biden is concerned that he and his fellow conservative billionaires are giving to tax exempt nonprofits. Thanks to new legislation, these groups don’t have to disclose their donor lists. Said Biden:
“You don’t know where [the money is] coming from, but you know where it’s coming from. It’s coming from some of the biggest interests – the Mellon Scaife types of the world. Folks, these guys are playing for keeps.”
Scaife didn’t respond to a request for comment from Forbes on this story.