While the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation raised more than $55 million between 2004 and 2008, only $1 million went to the caucus’s political action committee, according to an article published February 13 in The New York Times.

The remainder of the funds was used for the caucus’s unregulated non-profit dealings, according to the Times, which also questioned companies that donated money to the caucus and their influence on the group’s membership.

The article claims that “…lobbyists and executives from coal, nuclear and power giants like Peabody Energy and Entergy helped draft a report in the caucus’s name that includes their positions on controversial issues.”

The report detailed the foundation’s acceptance of money from liquor and tobacco companies. However, Elsie L. Scott, chief executive of the foundation, claimed that the money is only for philanthropic purposes.

“Black people gamble. Black people smoke. Black people drink,” Scott told the New York Times. “And so if these companies want to take some of the money they’ve earned off of our people and give it to us to support good causes, then we take it.”

The foundation has defended its actions and called the article “tasteless” on its Web site.

Caucus Chairwoman Rep. Barabara Lee (D-Calif.) also wrote a letter this week defending the foundation’s actions.

“We consider it a severe disservice to the and to the other legal entities written about in its February 14 news article for The New York Times to mistakenly and recklessly lump these organizations together in a way that demeans each of these organizations and their work,” said Lee. “This is as much of a mistake as it would be for us to link The New York Times to the acts of other entities located in New York simply because their names or titles are similar.”