The secretive funders behind America’s conservative movement directed around $125m (£82m) over three years to groups spreading disinformation about climate science and committed to wrecking Barack Obama’s climate change plan, according to an analysis of tax records.
The amount is close to half of the anonymous funding disbursed to rightwing groups, underlining the importance of the climate issue to US conservatives.
The anonymous cash flow came from two secretive organisations – the Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund – that have been called the “Dark Money ATM” of the conservative movement.
The funds, which when channelled through the two organisations cannot be traced to individual donors, helped build a network of thinktanks and activist groups. These worked to defeat climate bills in Congress and are mobilising against Environmental Protection Agency rules to reduce carbon pollution from power plants which are due to be finalised this summer. In many cases, the anonymous cash makes up the vast majority of funding received by beneficiaries – more than comes openly from the fossil fuel industry.
“The conservative thinktanks are really the spearhead of the conservative assault on climate change,” said Riley Dunlap, a sociologist at the University of Oklahoma who studies environmental politics. “They write books, put out briefings and open editorials, bring in contrarian scientists … They are an immense megaphone that amplifies very, very minority voices.”
Organisations funded through the secretive donors operations are also working to roll back measures promoting wind and solar power and block planning for future sea-level rise in state capitals.
To trace how the money was spent, the Guardian obtained annual tax filings made to the US Internal Revenue Service by the Donor’s Trust and Donor’s Capital Fund and cross-checked grantees with organisations associated with the climate change counter-movement.
In 2011, 42% of funding, or $35.7m, went to groups promoting climate denial and opposed to environmental regulations, according to the tax filings.
In the last presidential elections in 2012, when Obama fended off a challenge from Mitt Romney, that figure jumped to 51% of the funds directed through Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund – a total of just over $49m.
In 2013, the last year for which tax records are available, 46% of anonymous funding to conservative groups through the two Donors channels, or just over $41 million was spent that way.
© Kunito Imai
(Source: flickr.com, via workman)
We must take Dorothy Cutter’s word for it that the wall seen in this image is part of a mosque, or that the man is proceeding to prayers. What we do know is he’s wearing a djellaba, which confirms Marrakesh is possible.