Philanthropic Leaders Call for Protecting the Independence of Special Counsel Investigation

November 18, 2018

As leaders of nonpartisan American philanthropic institutions, we care deeply about the long-term health of our republic, our two-party system, and our democratic institutions. Together, we want to express our deep concern about the resignation of the Attorney General, which came at the request of the president, and the appointment of an Acting Attorney General who has openly criticized the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election — an investigation he reportedly will now supervise. Led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, this independent investigation is integral to understanding not just what happened in 2016, but also who was responsible and how to prevent further interference in our political system in the future. ​

We believe it is essential that the independence of the special counsel investigation be preserved. We ask that other civic, business, and government leaders join us in standing up for the rule of law — a cornerstone of American democracy. John Adams is often quoted as describing a republic as “a government of laws, not of men.” Adherence to the rule of law preserves our democratic values and the rights of individuals; it maintains order, and it protects against arbitrary government action. It also ensures the independence and integrity of our governmental institutions, including our law enforcement agencies. Those in power cannot and should not use or manipulate law enforcement for their own personal protection or for political gain. Rather, these agencies must apply the law impartially in the pursuit of justice. In the United States of America, the rule of law is paramount.​

Any action taken by a president that could interfere with the supervision of a legitimate law enforcement investigation into the activities of his campaign, his business interests, or those who serve in his administration, threatens these bedrock norms. This is especially true when such an investigation includes the specter of foreign interference in American elections. No one is above the law, including the president, his family, and others who serve in his administration. The special counsel’s investigation must be allowed to continue unimpeded. ​

We stand together in our commitment to the protection of our democracy and its freedoms, for which generations of Americans have fought and given their lives. ​


Greg Segal
Board Member, AL Mailman Family Foundation
White Plains, NY

Eileen Coogan
President and Chief Executive Officer, Allegany Franciscan Ministries
Palm Harbor, FL

David Goodman
President, Andrew Goodman Foundation
New York, NY

Adam Simon
Executive Director, Aviv Foundation
Bethesda, MD

Gary D. Bass
Executive Director, Bauman Foundation
Washington, DC

Sara Kay
Chief Executive Officer, The Bernard and Anne Spitzer Charitable Trust
New York, NY

Martha A. Toll
Executive Director, Butler Family Fund
Washington, DC

Kathleen D. Edwards, Ph.D.
President, Cedarmere Foundation
Seattle, WA

Elaine Nonneman
Trustee, Channel Foundation
Seattle, WA

Stacy Schusterman
Chair, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation
Tulsa, OK

Andrea Panaritis
Executive Director, The Christopher Reynolds Foundation
Boston, MA

Ellen Friedman
Executive Director, Compton Foundation
San Francisco, CA

Joe Goldman
President, Democracy Fund
Washington, DC

Melissa Beck
Executive Director, The Educational Foundation of America
Fairfield, CT

Darren Walker
President, Ford Foundation
New York, NY

Gabrielle Mertz
Director, Foundation for Arts and Humanities
New York, NY

Geoffrey Gund
President, The George Gund Foundation
Cleveland, OH

Deanna Gomby
President & Chief Executive Officer, Heising-Simons Foundation
Los Altos, CA

Bill Hopwood
Co-Trustee, J.M.Hopwood Charitable Trust
Elkins, NH

Terry Fulmer
President, The John A Hartford Foundation
New York, NY

Kim Philbrick McCabe
Executive Director, The Klarman Family Foundation
Boston, MA

Dr. Keith Leaphart
Chairman, The Lenfest Foundation
Philadelphia, PA

Marcella Kanfer Rolnick, Chair and Aaron Dorfman, President
Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah
Akron, OH

Wendy Lewis
Executive Director, McCune Charitable Foundation
Santa Fe, NM

Jenny Russell
Executive Director, Merck Family Fund
Milton Village, MA

Jay Beckner
President, Mertz Gilmore Foundation
New York, NY

Aaron Dorfman
President & Chief Executive Officer, National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy
Washington, DC

Sharon Alpert
President, Nathan Cummings Foundation
New York, NY

Michele Lord
President, NEO Philanthropy
New York, NY

Maria Mottola
Executive Director, New York Foundation
New York, NY

Pamela Shifman
Executive Director, NoVo Foundation
Brooklyn, NY

Patrick Gaspard
President, Open Society Foundations
New York, NY

Rachel Pritzker
President & Founder, Pritzker Innovation Fund
San Francisco, CA

Kathryn Murdoch
Co-Founder & President, Quadrivium Foundation
New York, NY

Stephen B Heintz
President, Rockefeller Brothers Fund
New York, NY

Ruth Salzman
Chief Executive Officer, The Russell Berrie Foundation
Teaneck, NJ

Mike Pratt
President, Scherman Foundation
New York, NY

Tom Bennigson
President, Tikva Grassroots Empowerment Fund

Ellen Dorsey
Executive Director, Wallace Global Fund
Washington, DC

JoAnn Intili & Ed Kissam
Senior Advisers, Werner Kohnstamm Family Fund
Oakland, CA

John Esterle
Co-Executive Director, The Whitman Institute
San Francisco, CA

Alan S. Davis
Director, The WhyNot Initiative
San Francisco, CA

Diane Cornman-Levy
Executive Director, Women’s Way
Philadelphia, PA

Daniel Solomon
President, Woodbury Fund
Bethesda, MD

Merryl Snow Zegar
Trustee & Executive Director, Zegar Family Foundation
New York, NY

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If you represent a philanthropic institution interested in signing onto this statement, please email Nathaniel Turner, program associate on our Governance program here.