Among the most important stories not covered by the major media in 2014 was the scathing report by the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Environment and Public works Minority Staff Report concerning undue influence within the Environmental Protection Agency.
The executive summary of the report is reproduced here:
In his 2010 State of the Union Address, President Obama famously chided the Supreme
Court for its recent campaign finance decision by proclaiming, “With all due deference to the
separation of powers, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for
special interests – including foreign corporations – to spend without limit in our elections.”
In another speech he further lamented, “There aren’t a lot of functioning democracies around the
world that work this way where you can basically have millionaires and billionaires bankrolling
whoever they want, however they want, in some cases undisclosed. What it means is ordinary
Americans are shut out of the process.”
These statements are remarkable for their blatant hypocrisy and obfuscation of the fact
that the President and his cadre of wealthy liberal allies and donors embrace the very tactics he
publically scorned. In reality, an elite group of left wing millionaires and billionaires, which this
report refers to as the “Billionaire’s Club,” who directs and controls the far-left environmental
movement, which in turn controls major policy decisions and lobbies on behalf of the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Even more unsettling, a dominant organization in this
movement is Sea Change Foundation, a private California foundation, which relies on funding
from a foreign company with undisclosed donors. In turn, Sea Change funnels tens of millions
of dollars to other large but discreet foundations and prominent environmental activists who
strive to control both policy and politics.
This report examines in detail the mechanisms and methods of a far-left environmental
machine that has been erected around a small group of powerful and active millionaires and
billionaires who exert tremendous sway over a colossal effort. Although startling in its findings,
the report covers only a small fraction of the amount of money that is being secreted and moved
around. It would be virtually impossible to examine this system completely given the enormity
of this carefully coordinated effort and the lack of transparency surrounding it.
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.
The report attempts to decipher the patterns of “charitable giving.” Often the wealthiest
foundations donate large sums to intermediaries – sometimes a pass through and sometimes a
fiscal sponsor. The intermediary then funnels the money to other 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4)
organizations that the original foundation might also directly support. The report offers theories
that could explain this bizarre behavior, but at its core, the Billionaire’s Club is not, and
seemingly does not, want to be transparent about the groups they fund and how much they are
In advancing their cause, these wealthy liberals fully exploit the benefits of a generous
tax code meant to promote genuine philanthropy and charitable acts, amazingly with little
apparent Internal Revenue Service scrutiny. Instead of furthering a noble purpose, their tax
deductible contributions secretly flow to a select group of left wing activists who are complicit
and eager to participate in the fee-for-service arrangement to promote shared political goals.
Moreover, the financial arrangement provides significant insulation to these wealthy elite from
the incidental damage they do to the U.S. economy and average Americans.
Through these arrangements, the Billionaire’s Club gains access to a close knit network
of likeminded funders, environmental activists, and government bureaucrats who specialize in
manufacturing phony “grassroots” movements and in promoting bogus propaganda disguised as
science and news to spread an anti-fossil energy message to the unknowing public. Not only is
the system incredibly sophisticated, but the Club’s attorneys and accountants have mastered the
loopholes and gray areas in the tax code, which enable them to obtain a full tax benefit, even
when the recipient of the grant is not recognized as a public charity, and even if the money
indirectly and impermissibly funds political activities.
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.
The facilitators – both organizations and individuals who bring together the private
foundations and the activists – are a key component of the movement’s success. The report
identifies three organizations that serve prominent roles as facilitators: the Environmental
Grantmakers Association, the Democracy Alliance, and the Divest/Invest movement. There is
also a narrow set of individuals whose careers are part of the fabric of the far-left environmental
movement and who serve as coordinators and intermediaries between the Billionaire’s Club and
the activist groups.
The ultimate recipients of donations from the Billionaire’s Club work in tandem with
wealthy donors to maximize the value of their tax deductible donations and leverage their
combined resources to influence elections and policy outcomes. Often, they lobby on behalf of
the EPA and advance policy positions important to the agency, which is statutorily prohibited
from lobbying on its own behalf. But most importantly, they serve as the face of the
environmental movement and present themselves as non-partisan benevolent charities to a public
not aware of the secretive backroom deals and transfers.
The Billionaire’s Club achieves many of its successes through the “capture” of key
employees at EPA. These “successes” are often at the expense of farmers, miners, roughnecks,
small businesses, and families. This report proves that the Obama EPA has been deliberately
staffed at the highest levels with far-left environmental activists who have worked hand-in-glove
with their former colleagues. The green-revolving door at EPA has become a valuable asset for
the far-left and their wealthy donors. In addition to providing insider access to important policy
decisions, it appears activists now at EPA also funnel government money through grants to their
former employers and colleagues. The report tracks the amount of government aid doled out to
activist groups and details a troubling disregard for ethics by certain high powered officials.
The report further describes what the Billionaire’s Club is purchasing with their fortunes.
It reveals that activists are skilled at creating and pushing out propaganda disguised as science
and news. For example, both the Park Foundation and the Schmidt Family Foundation have
financed questionable scientists to produce anti-fracking research, which the Huffington Post,
Mother Jones, and Climate Desk – all grant recipients themselves – eagerly report on.
The Billionaire’s Club has also perfected the craft of assembling and funding fake
grassroots movements to assist in ballot measures and other state initiatives. The efforts in New
York and Colorado to ban fracking are prime examples. The report explains how these faux
grassroots efforts are actually funded by foundations outside the states they seek to influence.
All these groups are similarly utilizing their platform to attack jobs, economic development, and
infrastructure projects across the country.
The Energy Foundation is a quintessential example of a pass through frequently
employed by the Billionaire’s Club. Energy Foundation receives money from several key
foundations and redirects it to activists. In doing so, they are providing two services: distance
between the donor and the activist, and enhancing the clout of the donors as their individual
influence is maximized by pooling resources. One of the major funders of the Energy
Foundation is Sea Change, which has gone to great lengths to hide the source of its money. This
is especially concerning in light of recent revelations that environmental activists do not appear
to be morally conflicted over where their money comes from – so long as it supports their goals.
The Billionaire’s Club is also adept at converting charitable donations into political
outcomes by taking advantage of loopholes in the tax code. Numerous examples raise questions
as to whether the charitable donations are indirectly supporting political activity. For example,
in many cases they fund a 501(c)(3), like the Energy Foundation or the League of Conservation
Voters, which then transfers large sums to an affiliated 501(c)(4), which can engage in political
activity. The affiliated groups often share office space, staff, and even board members. In the
case of the 501(c)(4) Green Tech Action Fund, which received donations from the Energy
Foundation, and in turn, donated funds to 501(c)(4) far-left environmental activist organizations.
The evidence provided in this report highlights the lengths the far-left environmental
movement goes to hide sources of funding and to disguise their actions – bought and paid for by
millionaires and billionaires – as charitable acts in service of their fellow man. This report
outlines a sampling of the individuals, foundations, and practices that are active in our political
system today, shedding light on just a fraction of the activities of the far-left environmental
machine that undermines American free enterprise and resource security.
- The “Billionaire’s Club,” an exclusive group of wealthy individuals, directs the far-left
environmental movement. The members of this elite liberal club funnel their fortunes
through private foundations to execute their personal political agenda, which is centered
around restricting the use of fossil fuels in the United States.
- The Billionaire’s Club has established a dozen prominent private foundations with huge
sums of money at their disposal to spend on environmental causes.
- Members of the Billionaire’s Club also donate directly to 501(c)(3) public charities.
Generally, the public charity is considered the preferred status under the tax code, based
on the greater tax benefits and protections on donor disclosures.
- Public charities attempt to provide the maximum amount of control to their donors
through fiscal sponsorships, which are a legally suspect innovation unique to the left,
whereby the charity actually sells its nonprofit status to a group for a fee.
- Nearly all of the public charities discussed in this report have an affiliated 501(c)(4) that
engages in activities designed to influence elections and have no restrictions on their
lobbying efforts. The funding of a 501(c)(4) by a 501(c)(3) affiliates is provocative in
light of the legal restrictions on public charities from participating in political
campaigning, either directly or indirectly, while permitting a 501(c)(4) to significantly
engage in campaign activities.
- Members of the Billionaire’s Club put a premium on access to the complex
environmental infrastructure that has evolved to leverage substantial assets towards
achieving defined policy outcomes.
- Environmental Grantmakers Association (EGA) is a place where wealthy donors meet
and coordinate the distribution of grants to advance the environmental movement. EGA
encourages the use of prescriptive grantmaking. It is a secretive organization, refusing to
disclose their membership list to Congress.
- Democracy Alliance (DA), a facilitator for wealthy donors seeking to advance a broader
far-left agenda, does not disclose the details of any transaction it facilitates, and its
members and donor-recipients cannot speak publically about the organization. (Pg. 18)
- Environmental activist groups are well aligned with the greater far-left agenda. One of
DA’s acclaimed successes in the last year includes President Obama’s executive actions
on climate change. (Pg. 20)
- Many far-left environmental foundations and groups have pledged to divest in fossil fuels
and invest in renewable projects as well as “philanthropy.” (Pg. 22)
iv• There is a narrow set of individuals whose careers are part of the fabric of the far-left
environmental movement. These individuals exercise outsized influence regarding the
distribution of funds. (Pg. 23)
- Public charity activist groups propagate the false notion that they are independent,
citizen-funded groups working altruistically. In reality, they work in tandem with
wealthy donors to maximize the value of the donors’ tax deductible donations and
leverage their combined resources to influence elections and policy outcomes, with a
focus on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
- 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 Obama Administration has installed an audacious green-revolving door among
senior officials at EPA, which has become a valuable asset for the environmental
movement and its wealthy donors.
- In one example, senior EPA officials planned to use Michelle DePass’s position on the
Board of Directors of EGA, her eminent employment at EPA, and her relationship with
former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, to enhance her influence with EGA.
- Former far-left environmentalists working at EPA funnel government money through
grants to their former employers and colleagues, often contributing to the bottom line of
environmental activist groups.
- Under President Obama, EPA has given more than $27 million in taxpayer-funded grants
to major environmental groups. Notably, the Natural Resources Defense Council and
Environmental Defense Fund – two key activists groups with significant ties to senior
EPA officials – have collected more than $1 million in funding each.
- EPA Region 2 Administrator Judith Enck appears to be inappropriately and personally
involved in the allocation of EPA grants to favored groups. Enck is also the subject of an
inquiry led by the EPA Office of Inspector General.
- EPA also gives grants to lesser-known extreme groups. For example, the Louisiana
Bucket Brigade received hundreds of thousands of grants under former Administrator
Lisa Jackson despite challenges by state regulators over the use of such grants.
- Some of the most valued services 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 questionable foreign funding.
- Foundations finance research to justify desired predetermined policy outcome. The
research is then reported on by a news outlet, oftentimes one that is also supported by the
same foundation, in an effort to increase visibility. In one example, a story reporting on a
Park Foundation-supported anti-fracking study was reproduced by a Park-funded news
organization through a Park-funded media collaboration where it was then further
disseminated on Twitter by the maker of Park-backed anti-fracking movies.
- Another service provided to the Billionaire’s Club is the manufacturing of an artificial
grassroots movement where it is not the citizen’s interest that drives the movement;
rather, it is part of a well-funded national strategy.
- In New York and Colorado, a pseudo grassroots effort to attack hydraulic fracturing has
germinated from massive amounts of funding by the NY-based Park Foundation, as well
as CA-based Schmidt Family Foundation and Tides Foundation
- The same California and New York-based foundations behind the New York antifracking
efforts have shifted to Colorado through two coalitions – Local Control
Colorado and Frack Free Colorado.
- Bold Nebraska is another example of faux grassroots where a purportedly local
organization is, in fact, an arm of the Billionaire’s Club. It is nothing more than a shield
for wealthy and distant non-Nebraskan interests who seek to advance a political agenda
without drawing attention to the fact that they, too, are outsiders with little connection to
- The Energy Foundation is a pass through public charity utilized by the most powerful
EGA members to create the appearance of a more diversified base of support, to shield
them from accountability, and to leverage limited resources by hiring dedicated
energy/environment staff to handle strategic giving.
- The Energy Foundation is the largest recipient of grants from the foreign-funded Sea
Change Foundation; yet, it appears the Energy Foundation attempts to hide donations
from Sea Change, as it is not listed as one of Energy Foundation’s partners.
- The circumstances surrounding the flow of money from 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) groups,
and the likelihood of lax oversight, raises questions as to whether 501(c)(3) nonprofit
foundations and charities are indirectly funding political activities.
- 501(c)(4) Green Tech Action Fund receives millions of dollars from green 501(c)(3)
organizations, then distributes the funds to other 501(c)(4) groups that donate to political
- Many of the large environmental organizations form both 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4)
nonprofits that are publically advertised as separate and independent entities. In reality,
they are closely associated groups that transfer money from the Billionaire’s Club to
nonprofits, and eventually into political campaigns.
vi• Between 2010 and 2012, Tides Foundation gave over $10 million to Tides Center, and
Tides Center gave over $39 million to Tides Foundation. It is unclear what purpose the
transfer of funds between these two organizations serves, other than obscuring the money
- Tides Center is a fiscal sponsor to over 200 groups, which are subject to Tides Center’s
oversight and direction in important aspects that include forming a governing board,
managing payroll, and monitoring risk.
- The New York-based Sustainable Markets Foundation is also a significant fiscal sponsor
and receives vast sums from the Billionaire’s Club. It only exists on paper and has zero
public presence – no website, no Facebook page, no Twitter account, nothing.
- The Billionaire’s Club knowingly collaborates with questionable offshore funders to
maximize support for the far-left environmental movement.
- The little information available on Sea Change is limited to a review of its IRS Form-990
for 2010 and 2011 as its 2012 form is not public, and a sparsely worded website – listing
solely the logo and a three-sentence mission statement.
- Klein Ltd., an overseas company contributing tens of millions to organizations dedicated
to abolishing the use of affordable fossil fuels through a U.S. private foundation is highly
problematic. This is only compounded by the fact that it is deliberately and completely
lacking in transparency – having no website and withholding its funders.