Two of the US’s largest liberal foundations, MacArthur Foundation and Knight Foundation, are facing scrutiny following the sudden resignation of Joi Ito from their respective boards.
Ito’s handling of donations to the MIT Media Lab channelled via late philanthropist, businessman and sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein also led to his sudden resignation from the Board of the New York Times.
The foundation resignations follow an investigation published in the New Yorker which revealed an extensive off-the-books donations scheme masterminded by Epstein and Ito. The New Yorker reported that Ito handled up to $7.5 million of donations at the direction of Epstein including an anonymous donation of $2 million made by Bill Gates.
In a statement on Twitter, the MacArthur Foundation thanked Ito for his service:
The recent reports of Ito's behavior in The New Yorker, if true, would not be in keeping with the values of MacArthur. Most importantly, our hearts go out to the girls and women who survived the abuse of Jeffrey Epstein.
— MacArthur Foundation (@macfound) September 7, 2019
Ito’s service on the board of the Knight Foundation will be particularly uncomfortable for the Foundation’s partners and grantees in the media. Knight is a leading journalism funder priding itself on robust ethical standards as well as support for media fellowships at the International Center for Journalism and other institutions. The Knight Foundation confirmed Ito’s resignation in a brief statement:
Joi Ito resigned this afternoon from the Knight Foundation board of trustees. It was effective immediately.
— Knight Foundation (@knightfdn) September 7, 2019