Thursday, December 9, 2010

AIA Building Up Lobbying War Chest?

The Archaeological Institute of America ("AIA") has emailed this end of year solicitation to its supporters:

Dear Friend,

The AIA Site Preservation Program works to safeguard the world's archaeological heritage for future generations through direct preservation, raising awareness of threats to sites, education, outreach, and by facilitating the spread of best practices.

Currently, we support eight site preservation projects around the world. Over the past year we have greatly increased our advocacy efforts, organizing campaigns that sent hundreds of letters to Washington in support of renewing import restrictions on archaeological materials from Italy and Greece. These initiatives are critical to the mission of the AIA Site Preservation Program—but we cannot continue these important efforts without the support of friends like you who understand the value of our threatened cultural heritage.

In 2010 we have raised $100,000 for Site Preservation and need an additional $50,000 to reach our goal for the year. Please consider a tax-deductible donation before the end of the calendar year, so that you can become a part of our mission to secure archaeological sites for tomorrow. Please click here to signify your support for the preservation of our ancient heritage.
With much thanks and warm wishes,

Peter Herdrich

Comment: The highlighted material suggests that the AIA is commingling funds for advocacy purposes with funds specifically donated to help preserve archaeological sites. It is unclear what amount is devoted to the former and what amount is devoted to the latter purpose. It is clear that despite claims to the contrary, archaeologists do lobby, and potentially spend significant monies on that effort. How much money is involved, and where is that money going? The AIA has, after all, been granted tax exempt status as being operated solely for educational and scientific purposes. Under the circumstances, shouldn't details of its lobbying efforts be made public?

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