Previous posts have reported on the recent controversy surrounding the membership figures of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). The controversy began in June when the Washington Times reported, based on tax documents, that CAIR membership had declined more than 90 percent since the 2001 terrorist attacks. CAIR responded by denying the claims asserting that the Times’ figures did not include “free or low-cost membership drives” nor other indicators such as an increasing “donor base”, annual budget, and event attendance as well as the opening of locally-funded chapters and offices. Two months following the Times article, CAIR filed a legal brief seeking to be removed from a list of unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land terrorism financing case where it argued that it had suffered harm including a decline in membership as a result of its inclusion. Several days ago however, a local newspaper article reported that any drop in national CAIR revenue has been offset by contributions to its 33 local chapters. For example, according to the report:
CAIR-Florida took in $802,000 last year, compared to $16,000 when it started in 2001, according to statements filed with the IRS. “I think it shows we’re a more grass-roots organization — bottom up, not top down,” Bedier [a CAIR official]says. “Ask the NAACP where they were 12 years into their start. Or the ADL.”
Some of the conflicting statements and reports probably reflect the confusion between membership figures, organization revenue, and other indicators of organizational health. However, it seems clear that CAIR is arguing that it has been both harmed and unharmed depending on the context of the discussion.