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Monday, February 26, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Civil War on Koret Foundation Board

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - The president of a Jewish philanthropic organization uses the group's money for conservative causes and views its goal of helping the poor as a "bottomless pit," the group's lifetime chairwoman claims in a lawsuit.

Plaintiff Susan Koret is lifetime director of the Koret Foundation, which was founded in 1979. The foundation "supports humanitarian causes in the Bay Area and Jewish causes in the Bay Area and Israel," she says in her Oct. 7 complaint in Superior Court.

Koret sued six directors of the foundation, claiming their "duty of loyalty to the foundation has been corrupted by these directors' close affiliations with many of the foundation's recent grants, resulting in tens of millions of dollars being distributed due to self-interest."

The foundation's president Thaddeus Taube, the lead defendant, "has autocratically controlled the Koret Foundation as a personal piggy bank to aggrandize his name and funnel millions of dollars annually to favored causes, many of which are politically and socially at odds with the core mission of the foundation," the complaint states.

Susan Koret is the widow of the foundation's founder Joseph Koret who made his fortune developing permanent-press clothing. She says the foundation's leadership has greatly shifted away from her late husband's vision.

The 83-year-old Taube fled to the United States to escape the Nazis in World War II, and was the main financier of Joseph Koret.

"Despite the Foundation's established mission and mandate to social welfare causes based on Joseph Koret's wishes, Taube consistently castigates charitable giving to the poor as a 'bottomless pit' to be avoided," the complaint states.

"He has told Mrs. Koret he disfavors giving to the poor: 'What do you think you are going to get back from them?'"

Taube has donated much money to causes in his home country of Poland, and to "numerous conservative think tanks and organizations with philosophies contrary to that of the foundation," the complaint states.

Between 2010 and 2012, the foundation gave $64 million to charities, more than half of it to "grantees outside the foundation's core mission," according to the complaint.

Taube runs another philanthropic group, and four of the Koret Foundation's directors are also board members of Taube's group.

"These directors are elected to serve three-year renewable terms on the Koret board, but routinely vote each other to continue their service in a manner that makes them de facto lifetime directors with a purpose of protecting self-interested grants to their respective organizations," the complaint states.

Susan Koret says she "has been effectively silenced and marginalized within the foundation" because she has complained about the direction Taube is taking.

Koret Foundation spokesman Nate Ballard on Wednesday called her "an incompetent director who lacks even a basic understanding of the foundation and its operation

Besides Taube, Koret sued the foundation's attorney Richard Greene, and directors Richard Atkinson, Michael Boskin, Anita Friedman, and Abraham Sofaer.

Atkinson, Boskin, Friedman and Sofaer "are sued herein for removal, declaratory relief, accounting and for repayment of attorney's fees."

Koret seeks to remove the directors from the foundation, and asked for damages for breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract.

She is represented by Robert H. Bunzel of Bartko, Zankel, Bunzel & Miller.

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