Donors Trust Exposed as Billionaire Puppet Show to Create State Climate-Denial Astroturf
Posted by Charles II on February 19, 2013
[Posted in different form at DK]
Conservatives used a pair of secretive trusts to fund a media campaign against windfarms and solar projects, and to block state agencies from planning for future sea-level rise, the Guardian has learned.
The trusts, Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund, served as the bankers of the conservative movement over the past decade. Promising anonymity to their conservative billionaire patrons, the trusts between them channelled nearly $120m to contrarian thinktanks and activists, wrecking the chances of getting Congress to act on climate change.
Now the Guardian can reveal the latest project of the secretive funding network: a campaign to stop state governments moving towards renewable energy.
From Paul Abowd at Center for Public Integrity, a useful graphic
As Suzanne Goldenberg said, what distinguishes the recipients of these trusts from left-wing or centrist foundations that similarly collect money from donors to distribute to projects is that the function of Donors Trust is to promulgate lies and distortions. In some cases at least, they are the primary donor to state-level puppets. Here’s an example of the kind of in-your-face lying that they engage in (from Abowd):
One report from a New Mexico affiliate [New Mexico Watchdog run by the Rio Grande Foundation, which gets most of its money from Donors Capital Fund, a partner of Donors Trust] housed at a free-market think tank also funded by Donors Trust garnered national attention when it reported that millions of dollars in federal stimulus money had been allocated to non-existent congressional districts.
The government database on stimulus spending had indeed listed non-existent districts as receiving funds, but the Associated Press reported that the problem was due to data errors and that “’phantom congressional districts’ are being used as a phantom issue to suggest that stimulus money has been misspent.”
When asked to comment on the criticism, Franklin Center spokesman Moroney said: “Franklin Center adheres to the highest degree of journalistic integrity and we stand by our Watchdog.org reporting 100 percent. In this case, the Associated Press had it wrong.”
FOX Noise turned it into a big pseudo-scandal. Other news organizations looked at it and found that the money was spent appropriately. The “phantom districts” were just mislabeled.
Now, in a sense, this is an old story. We’ve known that there are state-level foundations like Heartland that are being run by billionaire money. But John Mashey of DeSmog has a full list. In Minnesota, they funded the Minnesota Freedom Fund and the Minnesota Family Institute. And the fact that this is a coordinated effort and that it specializes in political hit jobs suggests to me that Donors Trust and Donors Capital are not 501(c)3s but money laundering fronts for lobbying organizations.
Anyone know a lawyer who could sort that out for us?
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