by Michael Bastach
California Governor Jerry Brown’s upcoming global warming activist summit is part of an effort to funnels millions of dollars from nonprofits to state politicians to advance a liberal climate agenda, according to a new report.
Brown’s so-called “Global Climate Action Summit” begins on Wednesday, and is sure to garner media attention. Its list of speakers includes former Vice President Al Gore, actor Alec Baldwin and former Secretary of State John Kerry. Indeed, the whole point of the summit is to give politicians and activists a platform on global warming ahead of the November elections.
However, Competitive Enterprise senior fellow Chris Horner wants people to remember one thing about the summit: “this is what activist government for hire looks like, and how it is brought about.”
“Open record productions reveal that this summit is part of a major climate industry that funnels donor money through nonprofit organizations to staff up politicians’ offices,” Horner wrote in a new report published Tuesday.
And what an industry it is, Horner’s report reveals. Democratic state governors hope to mobilize $50 million by 2020 from nonprofits towards promoting liberal climate policies, including meeting the goals of the Paris climate accord.
This is Horner’s second major report on the deep financial ties between wealthy liberal foundations and Democratic state officials in the wake of the 2016 election. In August, Horner released a report detailing how former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s personal foundation funded attorneys at Democratic state attorneys general offices.
Those findings, based on more than two years of government records requests, backed initial reporting by TheDCNF on Bloomberg’s funding of state attorneys to advance “progressive clean energy, climate change, and environmental legal positions.”
According to Horner, accepting private funds to advance their policy goals bring up serious legal questions as well, including on transparency and gift-giving. It also could upset the checks lawmakers are supposed to have over state executives.
Brown’s summit is just one example of the coordination between Democratic governors and liberal foundations. The summit “is just one component of a sprawling enterprise that underwrites ‘support functions’ for politicians to advocate the parties’ aligned policy agenda,” reads Horner’s report.
Horner noted that global warming activists not only bankrolled the $10 million summit, but also provided a “handful of senior, full-time, and off-the-books staff members to Governor Brown,” according to a copy of his report obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
President Donald Trump’s 2016 election forced environmentalists and monied liberal donors out of the realm of federal policy, so they took their money to the states where Democratic politicians railed against the new administration’s rolling back of Obama-era policies.
In one instance, the Hewlett Foundation hired former Obama administration climate change envoy Jonathan Pershing to “place climate and energy policy staff members in governors’ offices, where they would be running the money and at least in one instance the hiring process through the World Resources Institute (WRI),” according to emails obtained by Horner.
However, Brown is not the only governor to take advantage of private funding of his climate agenda, Horner noted. The report cites many emails between officials in the offices of Governors Jay Inslee of Washington and Andrew Cuomo of New York as well.
Gov. Inslee’s office, for example, described one former Obama State Department staffer “as our refugee from Kerry’s office at State” that “Pershing at Hewlett is paying … to work in our shop for 12 months.”
Horner points also points to Democratic governors’ use of a “secretariat” model to “to run a politician’s climate-policy campaign.” In the case of Democratic governors, the “secretariat” was the United Nations Foundation (UNF), which was founded by media mogul Ted Turner in the 1990s.
UNF houses the U.S. Climate Alliance (USCA) that Brown, Cuomo and Inslee are a part of along with other state governors. While USCA is not a legal entity, it’s being used to advance the goals of the Paris climate accord that President Donald Trump has pledged to withdraw from in the next couple years. USCA is also supported by the Hewlett Foundation, Energy Foundation and Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
Horner said Democratic governors’ offices “spent hundreds of hours of taxpayer time interviewing and negotiating with representatives of 501(c)3 nonprofits that could serve as pass-through entities for placing “staff” in the governors’ offices, recruiting and liaising with donors, and developing the proposals to present to donors to fund the scheme.”
Nonprofits competed with one another to get the approval from Gov. Brown and others to house USCA. One top aide to Brown wrote in an email “that the nonprofit that wins the contract was to act purely as a vendor of ‘back-office host support functions’ to the officeholders.”
“A key function of the Secretariat was to hire staff members for the governors.” Horner wrote, noting that former Obama administration officials were a favorite. “This practice represents having outside parties hire staff members selected by governors for whom their legislatures have not authorized or have appropriated funds. They use their offices in service of the donors and of the advocacy groups’ and politicians’ aligned agenda.”
UNF also helped Brown’s office hire executives for the upcoming climate summit. Their jobs ad said the employees would work for UNF and be “seconded to the office of the Governor of California.”
“The Brown-led Summit is a major effort by elected officials to effectively move the politicking and media spectacle up in the calendar and to run an expensive PR/political campaign (using state offices) to make climate an issue for the 2018 mid-term U.S. elections, by hosting what is—by all appearances—a governmental conference,” Horner wrote.
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