Wealthy Foundations Paid ‘One Of The Largest Conservative Grassroots’ Groups To Promote Liberal Climate Policies
- Nonprofit foundations gave conservative groups $10 million to promote liberal energy policies.
- That effort includes targeting young conservatives and social conservatives for climate “education.”
- The Christian Coalition received more than $4 million to spread the climate gospel among its membership.
Wealthy charitable foundations spent $10 million on an effort that included handing money to conservative and libertarian think tanks and grassroots organizations to promote “a stable climate” and “a clean energy future” among other environmental issues, The Daily Caller News Foundation has found.
For example, two foundations that promote liberal energy policies handed nearly $4.2 million to the Christian Coalition to sway its conservative, religious membership of policies typically associated with liberals and environmentalists, according to grant information from tax filings from 2008 to 2016.
The Christian Coalition describes itself as “one of the largest conservative grassroots political organizations in America.”
However, the group received funding from charitable foundations since 2008 to “identify and educate supporters of renewable energy within the conservative community,” “advance policy solutions for a stable climate” and other related efforts, according to two grant descriptions.
The group, headed by Roberta Combs, did not respond to TheDCNF’s request for comment.
“Environmental foundations have funded faux-conservative groups for many years to make it seem like their radical climate ideology has a broader consensus than it really does,” Institute for Energy Research (IER) President Tom Pyle told TheDCNF.
“If you see so-called conservative or free market groups pushing for policies that are anti-free market, follow the money, odds are left-leaning environmental foundations are supporting it,” Pyle said.
TheDCNF’s findings are based on tax filings of 10 charitable foundations detailing grants to more than 1,500 activists groups, think tanks and others between 2008 and 2016. Grants and tafx data were compiled by IER and made public on the website “Big Green Inc.”
Carbon Tax Cash
The rise of so-called “eco-conservatives” has attracted media attention in recent years, but many conservative activists see the eco-right as part of a broader effort to popularize liberal policies aimed at phasing out fossil fuels and fighting global warming.
Former South Carolina Rep. Bob Inglis, a Republican, is one of those “eco-conservatives” who has made a career of promoting a carbon tax and green energy policies. However, his group, the Energy & Enterprise Institute (EEI), got more than $101,000 in 2012 from the Energy Foundation. Inglis founded EEI in 2012 out of George Mason University.
“We were grateful to get some funding from Energy Foundation early on,” Inglis told TheDCNF, adding that they haven’t gotten any funding from the wealthy foundation lately. “We would love for them to come back.”
The San Francisco-based Energy Foundation was founded in 1991 to promote a “sustainable energy future by advancing energy efficiency and renewable energy,” according to its website.
The foundation, however, is typically associated with funding left-wing environmental causes. In fact, President Barack Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency chief joined the foundation’s board in September, and, from 2009 to 2013, the nonprofit took money from billionaire Tom Steyer’s foundation.
Steyer, a former hedge fund manager, made a name for himself opposing the Keystone XL oil pipeline, founding a political action group that has moved onto other issues, including advocating for President Donald Trump’s impeachment.
Inglis became a climate activist after losing to a primary challenger in 2010, largely because of his support for a carbon tax. Since then, Inglis has generated headlines as a conservative concerned about global warming. (RELATED: Inside The $4 Billion Wealthy Liberal Foundations Handed To Environmentalists)
The former congressman cast a carbon tax as a “free market” solution to global warming that economists consider a carbon tax the most efficient way to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
However, he admits the idea has more traction on the political left than the right, which is why he works with progressives on the issue.
“Why would I not happily receive money from any progressive looking for a free market solution to climate change?” Inglis said in an interview.
IER’s database also shows groups like the R Street Institute and Niskanen Center, known for their efforts to promote a carbon tax, received $2.1 million and $550,000, respectively, from liberal foundations, according to Big Green Inc.’s data.
R Street, Niskanen and EEI are “on the vanguard of reminding conservatives what is actually conservative,” Inglis told TheDCNF.
Inglis is on R Street’s board of directors, and R Street President Eli Lehrer is on the Niskanen Center’s advisory board. The former lawmaker recently went on a national tour to promote a carbon tax among conservatives, NBC News reported.
However, Pyle said groups promoting a carbon tax are being fueled by liberal foundations. Pyle said liberal support for a carbon tax should raise suspicions among conservatives.
“The reality is there is nothing ‘conservative’ about groups pushing for liberal policies like a carbon tax,” Pyle said.
Most prominent conservative groups and Republican lawmakers oppose a carbon tax. A coalition of 21 groups signed a statement supporting an anti-carbon tax House resolution.
Louisiana Republican Rep. Steve Scalise’s anti-carbon tax resolution passed the House in July with all but six Republicans voting for it. When introducing the resolution, Scalise said a carbon tax “would raise costs on everything we buy from electricity and gasoline to food and everyday household products.”
“A 2014 Heritage Foundation report found that a $37 per ton carbon tax would lead to a loss of more than $2.5 trillion in aggregate gross domestic product by 2030,” reads the coalition’s statement on Scalise’s bill.
“That is more than $21,000 in income loss per family,” reads the letter. “In addition, a carbon tax would cost over 500,000 jobs in manufacturing and more than 1 million jobs by 2030. According to a 2013 CBO report, a carbon tax is highly regressive.”
The Energy Foundation did not respond to TheDCNF’s request for comment.
Targeting Social Conservatives
Despite describing itself as “one of the largest conservative grassroots political organizations in America,” the Christian Coalition got nearly$4.2 million from two wealthy liberal foundations, according to Big Green Inc. data.
A $100,000 grant from the Energy Foundation to the Coalition in 2012 is for “outreach to socially conservative audiences on energy reform policies.” Two Energy Foundation grants to the Coalition in 2013, totalling $255,000, went towards pushing “policy solutions for a stable climate.”
“To identify and educate supporters of renewable energy within the conservative community,” reads the description of one $100,000 grant the Energy Foundation gave the Coalition in 2012.
The Energy Foundation also gave the National Wildlife Federation a $125,000 grant in 2011 for the environmental group’s “partnership with the Christian Coalition and engage conservative leaders on energy issues.”
The Christian Coalition also took $1 million from the The William & Flora Hewlett Foundation between 2013 and 2016 to support an affiliate group called Young Conservatives for Energy Reform (YCER).
YCER is headed by Michele Combs, Roberta Combs’ daughter. (RELATED: A New Report Details How Nonprofits Are Funneling Millions To Democratic Governors To Further Their Global Warming Agenda)
The group’s mission is to identify and train “young conservative influential leaders” and represent their “point-of-view on energy reform before local councils, state legislatures, and Congress.”
The Hewlett Foundation’s grant says YCER “brings together young, professional, and socially conservative leaders in key states to support state and federal clean energy policies.”
The Hewlett Foundation’s environmental grants are meant to “protect people and places threatened by a warming planet by addressing climate change globally, expanding clean energy, and conserving the North American West,” according to its website.
The charitable group was one of 29 organizations that pledged $4 billion over the next five years to fight global warming. That amount included $600 million the Hewlett Foundation promised in December 2017 that it would spend on global warming activism.
Hewlett and others made the announcement at the Global Climate Action Summit in September in San Francisco. The summit was co-hosted by California Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat, and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a major environmental campaigner.
Neither the Hewlett Foundation nor Michele Combs responded to TheDCNF’s request for comment.
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