Bill Steigerwald

Teresa Heinz Kerry, the Heinz ketchup heiress and Pittsburgh 's most generous left-wing philanthropist, is very hands-on when it comes to deciding who gets a slice of the $140 million in charity that three Heinz Endowments dispense every year.

In his new booklet, "Teresa Heinz Kerry's Radical Gifts," Ben Johnson documents how the wife of Sen. John Kerry (and the late Sen. John Heinz) shares the Heinz family's wealth with a collection of left-wing groups and morally challenged cultural organizations that many Americans would find outrageous or appalling.

Johnson is the managing editor of and author of "57 Varieties of Radical Causes: Teresa Heinz Kerry's Charitable Giving." That 2004 work, a prequel to his forthcoming one, did what the mainstream media did not do when Teresa Heinz Kerry and her husband were trying to win the White House. It documented the highly politicized, partisan and often self-serving tax-exempt giving of Teresa Heinz Kerry. I talked to Johnson by telephone on Tuesday:

Q: What do the Heinz Endowments say they are?

A: The Heinz Endowments say that they are charitable organizations based in Western Pennsylvania with the intention to aid the citizens of the entire area. So they are purely charitable organizations motivated by their love of mankind.

Q: What do you contend they really are, based on your research?

A: Over the course of two books, there is no denying that many of their grants do in fact benefit Pennsylvania in general, and I wouldn't dispute that that's the case. However, many of their grants are overtly partisan or go to groups of a decidedly radical nature. For instance, to give what seems to be the most egregious example, in 2004 Teresa Heinz Kerry gave $250,000 to help fund the Democratic National Convention that nominated her husband.

Q: And endowments are not supposed to be giving money to the Communist Party, the Democratic Party, the Republican Party -- any party, right?

Bill Steigerwald

Bill Steigerwald, born and raised in Pittsburgh, is a former L.A. Times copy editor and free-lancer who also worked as a docudrama researcher for CBS-TV in Hollywood before becoming a reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and a columnist Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Bill Steigerwald recently retired from daily newspaper journalism..