Newark releases emails about Facebook gift

Dec. 26, 2012 at 2:28 PM   |   Comments

NEWARK, N.J., Dec. 26 (UPI) -- Emails on a $100 million gift from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to the Newark, N.J., schools were released late on Christmas Eve.

The administration of Mayor Cory Booker gave the emails to The Star-Ledger of Newark, New Jersey's largest newspaper, complying with a judge's order last Thursday. The American Civil Liberties Union had been seeking the emails for more than a year, the Star-Ledger said.

Newark officials said the documents show no wrongdoing.

"We hope that the release of these emails will put to rest the concerns of the naysayers, and demonstrate the intentions behind the greatest advances to public education Newark has seen in generations," a statement from Anna Pereira, the corporate counsel for the city, said.

The ACLU asked why the city stonewalled for so long.

"If there are no bombshells in these emails, the public has a right to ask why the city was so adamant in its refusal to release them, costing the city significant legal fees," Ed Barocas, ACLU-NJ legal director, said.

The emails show that Zuckerberg's advisers hoped his gift would be matched by small donations of as little as $5. In the end, those donations did not materialize.

"They believe it's bad positioning for Mark if only higher end donors are able to contribute to the matching funds in large chunks," Sarah Ross, a Booker adviser, wrote in a Sept. 18, 2010, email.

Emails also show efforts to get Oprah Winfrey involved. One describes a plan by a philanthropist to assemble $1 million from multiple donors over five years as "insignificant."

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