When you can’t win because of, well, science, I guess you have to turn to innuendo and breathless reporting of ordinary activity as if it is somehow suspect.
Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee have done just that, producing a report at taxpayer expense to smear the environmental movement. The report claims to have found that an elite group of millionaires and billionaires and “sugar daddies” are pouring money into the environmental movement (so that’s why the Greenpeace staff I know drive such fancy… bikes).
According to a report released by the committee yesterday, “a far-left environmental machine… has been erected around a small group of powerful and active millionaires and billionaires who exert tremendous sway over a colossal effort.” They call it the “Billionaire’s Club.”
Shockingly, the report finds that some environmental groups get money from foundations (gasp!), that these green groups are each a little bit different (oh my!), and that they often work together (or, in the words of the report, they “collude”)…
In order to understand how the Billionaire’s Club colludes with the far-left environmental activists and government officials, the report articulates the fundamental framework that governs these relationships. Essentially, the far-left environmental machine is comprised of hundreds of nonprofit organizations. Each entity is set up according to its designated purpose and is either a private foundation or a public charity, depending on where the cog fits in this well-designed wheel.
Wow, how did we not know this before? It certainly sounds like something fishy is going on, let’s take a look into the report, The Chain of Environmental Command: How a Club of Billionaires and Their Foundations Control the Environmental Movement and Obama’s EPA and see what we can find!
1. There is a vast amount of money and deep, deep secrecy behind the movement to protect the environment
The failure to openly acknowledge this force and the silence of the media with whom they coordinate further emphasize the fact that until today, the Billionaire’s Club operated in relative obscurity hidden under the guise of “philanthropy.” The scheme to keep their efforts hidden and far removed from the political stage is deliberate, meticulous, and intended to mislead the public. While it is uncertain why they operate in the shadows and what they are hiding, what is clear is that these individuals and foundations go to tremendous lengths to avoid public association with the far-left environmental movement they so generously fund.
Never mind that each of the foundations “exposed” in the report clearly lists their grant recipients on their websites, and the environmental groups submit and publish their annual tax returns. The report finds that many environmental groups have both a tax-exempt entity (known as a 501(c)(3) in IRS-speak) and a political arm that is not tax-exempt (501(c)(4)). That is true of organizations across the political spectrum, and hardly new or alarming.
2. Many foundations that support the environmental movement have divested from fossil fuels.
This group attempts to evoke the moral stance associated with the anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa in the 1980’s and depicts the effort to divest in fossil fuel as a moral imperative. In doing so, this group opposes a tool that would help to secure the goal of economic opportunity for Africans that Mandela fought for.
3. Donors are giving millions to environmental groups to receive “services.” Well, if clean water is a service, we’ll take it!
Far-left environmental activists, while benefiting from nonprofit status, essentially sell a product to wealthy foundations who are seeking to drive policy and political outcomes… The Committee has found that some of the most valued services these activists provide the Billionaire’s Club includes promulgation of propaganda which creates an artificial echo chamber; appearance of a faux grassroots movement; access to nimble and transient groups under fiscal sponsorship arrangements; distance/anonymity between donations made by well-known donors and activities of risky activist groups; and above all – the ability to leverage tens of millions of dollars in shady foreign funding.
Well, yes, donors do give to advocacy groups in order to drive policy and political outcomes. That’s kind of the point. But what about these charges of creating a faux grassroots movement? That’s based on a the fact that some foundations make grants to local groups that are not in the same state and other rather silly “evidence” such as the fact that the founder of the group Bold Nebraska was born in Florida and “educated in Washington, DC” (see Bold Nebraska’s response to the report here). As for “risky activist groups” donors may not want to be identified with, the authors refer only to but plain old rallies and demonstrations, such as this call to action:
It is imperative that activists vote with their feet and attend this landmark national gig. We must show up by the hundreds, if not the thousands . . . We need fracking activists from all over New York as well as Pennsylvania, Ohio and other states to make Friday a massive event.
In all the report is a sloppy attempt to discredit the environmental movement by describing standard practices within the philanthropic and advocacy communities — on the left and right. The rightwing echo chamber picked it up with glee: Washington Times Daily Caller