poison candy

This being Halloween, parents must be vigilant for creepy adults who do bad things to children (like razor blades in apples), especially in these final days before the elections.

I didn’t realize what a bad guy Pennsylvania Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett is until someone in Pennsylvania put me onto a website called “Protect the Hersheys’ Children” (www.ProtectHersheyChildren.com), which is accusing Corbett and other powerful Republican cronies of exploiting a trust established to benefit poor children in order to line their own pockets.

This is the same Tom Corbett who has permitted the politicization of the Jordan Brown case to persist, allowed the perpetuation of official lies about the case evidence to protect incompetent and dishonest cops, and who condones the wrongful imprisonment of an innocent child whose formative years are being squandered in captivity.

Corbett’s indecent and callous disregard for children appears to follow a pattern.

Protect the Hersheys’ Children, Inc. (PHC), is a nonpartisan watchdog group that monitors the Hershey Trust, the world’s largest residential childcare charity with total assets of $8.5 billion.

PHC is led by its founder F. Frederic (Ric) Fouad, a commercial lawyer and alumnus of the Milton Hershey School; PHC’s membership includes a nucleus of other MHS alumni, as well as childcare professionals and other supporters. Ric was separated from his family as a child and spent seven of his formative years at the childcare facility funded by the Hershey Trust, a circumstance that informs his reform efforts. 

“I have no heirs—that is, no children,” said Milton S. Hershey. “So I decided to make the orphan boys of the United States my heirs.” And he meant it to be literally so. He organized his estate so that all his assets—including his famous candy company—should exist to ultimately serve the needs of the nation’s most vulnerable and needy children. What has actually resulted is something much different than Hershey envisioned and which is, in fact, the fulfillment of Hershey’s worst nightmare.

“If the wrong people or organization get control, they can spend or give away more money than I have been able to make in my life, to build monuments unto themselves, for their own financial gains, for their ego and recognition—whose heads will swell and hearts will shrink, who would give to those who had plenty and withhold from those who had little or none,” Hershey worried to his friend and physician. This is exactly what has come to pass.

The Hershey Trust is under the supervision of Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett, who is running for governor. The charity has been burdened by a host of problems, including excessive board compensation, questionable and wasteful spending, and poor childcare results, to which PHC claims Corbett has been turning a blind eye until it has suited his campaign’s need for publicity to recently announce an investigation into the Hershey Trust and their use of charity funds to purchase a golf course to make money for the trust’s board members and friends, among other things.

“The Milton Hershey School has been plagued by problems for years, and we have been bringing these problems to the attention of Tom Corbett to no avail,” said Fouad. “Corbett has ignored us time and time again until now, when he finds it politically advantageous to launch an investigation to generate positive headlines while running for Governor.”

The chairman of the Hershey Trust board is LeRoy Zimmerman, a former two-term state Attorney General and close political ally of Corbett; so it is unlikely Corbett’s investigation will result in any changes or (more unlikely yet) charges.

This large-scale plunder of Hershey’s charitable trust and betrayal of its founder’s purpose has been happening over a long period of time through a complex series of events which you can learn about in this video of “The Chocolate Heist,” a one-hour April 2010 presentation by Ric Fouad at the Harvard Law School:


(This link will take you to the first of six video segments, each about ten minutes long.)

There are two things about Mr. Faoud’s presentation that I find fascinating. The first is the decades of conniving that ensued almost as soon as Milton Hershey’s body was cold by selfish and jealous men to lay their hands on the huge fortune that Hershey had left for children that no one cares about. It makes me think of stories I have heard about eccentric old ladies leaving something like ten million dollars to their cats, and the kinds of self-serving stewards their estates seem to attract. Corbett and his cronies seem able to justify taking money from Hershey’s heirs—the “orphans” of America—with as little shame or compunction as if they were stealing money from a housecat.

The second thing that strikes me is the extraordinary amount of dedication, effort, and sacrifice Mr. Faoud has invested in his mission to clean out the nest of vipers that has taken control of Milton Hershey’s fortune and subverted Mr. Hershey’s charitable purposes. Mr. Faoud seems to be the one true trustee in this story.

In his time, Mr. Hershey was known as an innovator and advocate of what was then called “corporate welfare.” No, this had nothing to do with welfare payments to the poor as we understand “welfare” today, nor does it have anything to do with big corporations receiving bailouts and taxpayer-paid handouts. Rather, it was about the then-revolutionary (and now extinct) idea that if you look out for the welfare of your workers, you will earn workers’ loyalty and get better quality and more productivity from their work. Hershey designed his factories so they were well-lit, well-ventilated, clean and safe. He established Hershey PA as a “company town” with health clinics, parks, schools, libraries, community centers, etc., which were to serve employee welfare holistically in a total work/life/community context.

It was a brilliant and progressive vision, as was the Milton Hershey School. In establishing the school, Hershey did so in order that his values and principles should be carried on after his death and, hopefully through the school’s graduates and alumni, have a transformative impact on the greater society.

I spent a fair amount of time in my career consulting with major foundations and view what has happened to the Hershey Trust as shameful and scandalous and at total variance with commonly accepted standards within the foundation community. Mr. Faoud appears to have a truer ethic of trusteeship than the selfish and untrustworthy stewards who have the formal titles of “trustee” for–and who have reaped millions in compensation from–the Hershey Trust.

In the Q&A segment following his formal presentation at Harvard, Mr. Faoud expresses his frustration of having worked so relentlessly for a decade with so few results. His frustration is telling in his reaction to a recent campaign promise by Dan Onorato, Corbett’s Democratic opponent, to “see this charity reformed so all these resources go to needy kids and for the best possible programs.”

“This is the first unequivocal statement we have seen from any major political leader acknowledging the grave problems in Hershey,” said Faoud. “Of equal importance to us, Dan committed to action if elected, something we never saw from Attorney General Corbett despite six years in office and every chance to address this charity’s problems.”

Unfortunately (and thanks in part to political contributions to Corbett’s campaign by the Hershey Trust) Corbett is favored to beat Onorato in this week’s election. Thus, it is likely that Mr. Faoud will experience many more frustrations before his goal is achieved.

This might be a good time to send a financial gift to Mr. Faoud’s organization if you can afford it. He’ll be needing encouragement to keep up the good fight. If you live in Pennsylvania, please consider voting for Onorato.

Otherwise it’s looking like there will be the equivalent of poison candy given out to kids from the Pennsylvania governor’s mansion for the next four years.


Groove of the Day

Listen to Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush performing “Don’t Give Up”


9 Responses to “poison candy”

  1. 1 mikki
    October 31, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    I think i recognize the clown as John Wayne Gacy? Good story Dan..

  2. 2 Abe
    October 31, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    The concept of poison candy and razor blades in apples is interesting, especially since it is a myth.

    Every since the 80s, parents have watched children’s candy, in hopes to prevent a Halloween disaster.

    But the truth of the matter is that deaths from poisoned candy are unheard of.

    Now, in the crazy world, I wouldn’t say that these cases are completely nonexistent, but they are virtually nonexistent. In fact, you have a better chance of being elected President of the US, and then being struck by lightning on your first day of office.

    It is a strange thing that this myth has spread so far and so completely, without any basis in fact. I find that amazing.

    • October 31, 2010 at 4:57 pm

      Abe, I think nearly all Diary readers are smart enough to realize the “urban myth” allusions in this piece are figurative rather than literal–although the illustration of Pogo the Clown is a reminder that there are real monsters out there (even in politics). The notorious serial killer John Wayne Gacy was a precinct captain in Chicago’s Democratic political machine and posed as a solid citizen. Tom Corbett is, in my opinion, no less a poseur; he can just afford better suits.

      • 4 Abe
        November 2, 2010 at 3:01 pm

        oh, I completely agree, Dan. I was just stating a comment on the idea of poison candy, but in no way did I mean to criticize your analogy, or the implications.

        I just find it strange that the idea of poisoned candy continues to this day, even without one shred of evidence.

        That, however, is in no way a comment towards the idea that Tom Corbett is a rotten SOB…. 🙂

  3. 5 gloria
    October 31, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    I was going to forward this great story in my facebook page but a friend got it there first. Good story a really good eye opener, what else pennsilvania needs to know about Tom corbett, so they start to realise, what kind of Governor are going to be electeing in their town. yep this man doesn’t seem to care much about kids. You know, It is curious because I’m not a person who likes politics at all, actually I don’t understand politics at all, so I avoid it as much as I can, but I had a look at Tom Corbets campaign and I found this page for Tom Corbett http://www.google.es/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CCQQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.attorneygeneral.gov%2F&ei=gNPNTMiENoyR4gbT6pncDA&usg=AFQjCNG5TsMcho9tIVQYFHb9hJ9gnyGLow

    What it really impact me is the part JUST 4 KIDS, And I look through it and I saw how it explains to kids about Ciberbullying , ciberbullying can include sending cruel and vicious or threatening e-mails, posting pictures of kids online with mean questions or phrases attached to them, and goes on explaining what is ciberbullying, then there is this other part where it explains to kids about Pennsilvania laws related to kids, and explains to kids things like criminal mischief, littering, truancy and other crimes kids can be prosecuted for and the sentences. But hey, I was looking and looking but I couldn’t find anything in Tom Corbetts page about LWOP JUST 4 LITTLE ADULT KIDS. I think they miss that part, how could they?, nothing that says about sending kids to adult prisons, because hey let be clear to kids once you commit “AN ADULT” crime, you just automatically are not a child but an adult. why they don’t talk in there to kids about the consecuences of commiting an “ADULT” crime (Still I’m trying to understand the logic after that sentence “adult crime”, I can’t, I failed miserably to understand it.) How they will be place with child predators (those who Tom Corbett is claiming wants to rid pennsilvania from so they are not a danger to children) in an adult prison, how they would be denied any chance of rehabilitation and redemption, that there is not mercy for these little adults.

    And then again explain to them as well about the miranda rights and all that you know. And well ,they should explain them as well the differnce between ciberbullying and freedom of speech, because posting a kids picture with mean coments or cruel and vicious or threatening e-mails, is all right for the media (after all we’ve read the most horrendous messages writing about jordan on the internet including the first mugshot picture of Jordan. ) And the terrible insults and death threats, but hey that is all right, is not ciberbullying, people has the right to share their opinions.

    Well, Just 4 Kids, meet attorney general Tom Corbett, who cares so much about kids. I don’t know why but I found it disturbing this way to include kids into politics, it gives me the creeps. 😦

    yes please, I’m not from USA, but please Pennsilvania consider not to elect Tom Corbett. I don’t like any polititian at all but this one just showed is true colours.

    “No race that does not take care of its young can hope to survive – or deserves to survive.”

    “I do not believe that a child can be reformed by lock and key and bars, or that fear can ever develop a child’s character.”

    Father flannagan

  4. 6 gloria
    October 31, 2010 at 9:16 pm

    Damn it I forget it again, I hate when this happens and I have to post twice

    Please sign

    and this one, this kid dit it but he deserves a second chance too, he is only 12, Mike I think you were concerned about this case, please consider signing this petition.

    • 7 Mike
      November 1, 2010 at 8:01 am

      Question about the petition site: It wants your name, address, city, state, zip in order to sign the petitions. Is any of this info shown when you submit your petition? Sorry…not very familar with these petition sites.

      • 8 gloria
        November 1, 2010 at 10:02 am

        It shows your name and state but if you don’t want your name and state to be seen publicly you can pinch on the “Allow my signature to be seen publicly” so it doesn’t appear on public view. you just have to desactivate that part by pinching on it. 🙂

  5. 9 Jeanne
    November 1, 2010 at 1:00 am

    Dan, that was a really interesting post today. Very disturbing though.

    First, I do not understand how Mr. Corbett, who appears to have been “granted” authority in the use of the Hershey Trust Fund, has the right to use the fund for political gain. It appears he was “granted” the authority because he was the Attorney General. So, how is it ethical, or even legal, to use the Hershey Trust Fund, within a campaign when it (the fund) does not even belong to you? It is Mr. Hershey’s Trust and he had within it where he wanted HIS money to go. It appears the fund is being debunked, as there were years in which Mr. Corbett was in office that he failed to follow-up on issues that were concerning. How is that even legal? To use the money for anything other that what it was established for is very troubling.

    Second, Gloria (above) pointed out a website of Mr.Corbett’s and she made some great points but I found this part of his “just 4 kids”… http://www.attorneygeneral.gov/kidsparents.aspx?id=56 .. a bit hypocritical. Mr. Corbett explains to the public on this site that internet child predators are a growing problem. He states, “One in five children, ages 10 to 17, received unwanted sexual solicitations online, according to the Youth Internet Safety Survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice”. Here we are told that “CHILDREN” are now 10-17 years-old. So we have a double-standard once again. This is wrong. We need to accept the truth and say the truth. Children are not adults. If a child 10-17 needs protection on the internet, than an 11 year-old little boy, such as Jordan Brown, clearly is not an adult.

    Why is it that the public suffices for such inadequacy? Better yet, why is there a law in place that charges a child (11 years old) automatically as an adult? Would it not be more sensible to charge children that are legally, scientifically, and morally, are really just children and then go through the legal junket, if so desired, to try to “prove” to the court that the child is an adult in order to try a child as an adult with a life, I repeat, LIFE, without parole sentence? That would be very interesting if the Prosecutor and Attorney General had to actually “prove” a child is an adult. They would clearly lose that one. They would have to be real men.

    Third, and final. Again, I will say this again, as the Jordan Brown case so upsets me. Any child this young should have been protected by law. His picture should have not been exploited, nor his name, nor the details of the Prosecutor’s theory. He is a child and deserved a right to a fair and IMPARTIAL jury. They tainted the jury pool by exploiting this child the way they did and I feel this was such an injustice to all children.

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