Bud Kennedy

United Way = Hitler? You sure, Ron?

United Way’s reading center at Bellaire Elementary School won’t get help from some county officials this year.
United Way’s reading center at Bellaire Elementary School won’t get help from some county officials this year. Special to the Star-Telegram

Ron Wright wants attention.

If he didn’t, the Tarrant County tax assessor-collector wouldn’t be posting on Facebook or sending emails bragging about how he canceled his office’s United Way drive.

To Wright, the county’s largest charity campaign is a “fund-raising mechanism” for “evil.”

He even brought up Hitler.

All this because United Way is honest.

I know this is a novel idea, but if you write on your workplace pledge card that you want your gift to go somewhere outside the 42 United Way of Tarrant County agencies, that’s actually where they send the money.

If you work at Lockheed Martin or American Airlines and want your paycheck deduction sent to a cause in Aledo or Denton or Irving, United Way mails a check.

If you want your donation to go to a non-United Way charity like the Union Gospel Mission in Fort Worth or the Mid-Cities Pregnancy Center in North Richland Hills or Planned Parenthood in Fort Worth, they mail a check.

Last year, both the gospel mission and the pregnancy center got more money from United Way drives than the piddly $9,000-plus forwarded to the Planned Parenthood chapter.

But Wright and Commissioner Andy Nguyen both decided to make Planned Parenthood the scapegoat for canceling their entire office United Way drive.

Why?

According to Wright’s letter, it was because he read something on a Colorado anti-abortion website, LifeNews.com.

For three months, activists in Colorado, Tennessee and Virginia have waged a false and hateful online smear campaign against United Way of Tarrant County.

LifeNews.com’s self-described “exposé” demanded that the local group “stop funding Planned Parenthood,” citing distorted claims by Nashville-based 2ndVote.com.

That’s easy enough. United Way of Tarrant County doesn’t fund Planned Parenthood. Hasn’t since Jan. 1, 1980.

Done. Right?

Not when Wright could still grandstand.

“I cannot be part of any fund-raising mechanism for any organization that funnels money” to Planned Parenthood, he wrote in a letter Sept. 11. “I will no longer accommodate those who accommodate this evil.”

Note his malicious choice of words: Instead of saying United Way sends along all donations to any legal 501(c)3 charity, the campaign “funnels money.”

Say I got a check in the mail meant for Ron Wright, and I forwarded it.

Would that be funneling him money? Would I be a supporter?

No. But Wright and Nguyen remain undeterred by facts.

This week, Wright told a reporter that United Way “supports or aids” Planned Parenthood. He dismissed the campaign’s $30 million in charity fundraising with: “Hitler made the trains run on time.”

Nguyen used the term “flow-through revenue” as if there is something sneaky about people having the freedom to give as they choose.

Both simply want attention.

And deserve it.

Bud Kennedy: 817-390-7538, bud@star-telegram.com, @BudKennedy. His column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

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