David Vitter's Green "Billionaire's Club" Report on Environmental Funding
"The Chain of Environmental Command: How a Club of Billionaires and their Foundations Control the Environmental Movement and Obama's EPA" is a report released in July of 2014 by the the US Senate Commitee on Environmental and Public Works (EPW) republican minority. The "Billionaire's Club" funding report contains information about donations from large environmental foundations to various environmental groups.
The green "Billionaire's Club" report was released by the minority republican staff of the Environment and Public Works committee, chaired by David Vitter. The report's only listed author is Kristina Moore, a staff member of EPW.
The report goes into detail about the flow of grants between non-profits and foundations engaged in environmentally focused work. It does not find any conflicts of interest in the environmental community, such as corporate donations funnelled to groups who advocate positions that benifit those corporations. In fact, the report is silent about corporate funding of groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a non-profit that accepts corprate funding to lobby against environmental regulations. ALEC has been repeatedly accused of violating their non-profit status by lobbying state and federal officials without disclosure.
During an interview regarding the Billionaire's Club report, David Vitter was asked why the environmental funding report only focused on groups supporting environmental regulation. Specifically he was asked "did you look on the other side?" Senator Vitter responded "we didn't see any multi layered system [on the anti-environmental side] like this to completely defeat transparency." This quote shows the partisan nature of the report, given the widespread reporting of shadow funding and dark money groups used by large corporate interests like the Koch Brothers. ProPublica exposed a very complex scheme used by the Kochs to funnel money used for political purposes through non-profits.
Ties to Cause of Action
Meta data and other information included in the report indicates that it may be tied to the advocacy group Cause of Action. Cause of Action uses the legal system to fight "government overreach" like the Department of Energy's energy efficiency standards.
The Executive Director of Cause of Action is Dan Epstein, former legal council for Charles G. Koch Charitable Institute. The Koch Brothers have recieved significant criticism for using their multi-billion dollar oil fortune to fund controversial political causes, like opposing solutions to global warming and species loss.
Much of the data for the report was obtained throught Freedom of Information Act requests, filed by Cause of Action employee Adam Butschek in 2013.
Furthermore, Cause of Action interviewed David Vitter about the Billionaire's Club environmental funding report on the same day that meta data reveals the report was being edited, implying a close working relationship between Vitter's EPW staff and Cause of Action.
David Vitter's Financial Ties
Senator Vitter has publicly supported the billionaire Koch Brothers on camera saying: "I think the Koch Brothers are two of the most patriotic Americans in the history of the Earth… I’ll be honest with you, God bless the Koch brothers." According to ThinkProgress, the Koch brothers have supported Senator Vitter with politcal donations. A review of campaign contributions finds that he and his leadership PAC have received at least $57,500 from the Koch brothers’ corporate political action committee - the same PAC that has been repeatedly accused of breaking elections laws surrounding money contributions. Besides the Koch brothers, Senator Vitter's largest political contributors are billionaire oil and gas interests.
Top fossil fuel contributors to David Vitter's campaign:
Edison Chouest Offshore
Offshore Warriors Inc
Alpha Natural Resources
Fossil Fuel Investment
David Vitter is a member of the congresssional "Millionaire's Club." He also has significant personal investment in fossil fuels, including tens of thousands of dollars in stocks of the electric utility Wisconsin Energy Corporation (We Energies), which owns major coal-fired power plants in both Oak Creek and Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin. As Desmog blog's Steve Horn points out,
"We Energies says it stands to lose economically if the proposed Obama EPA carbon rules are implemented, citing the potential risks related to legislation and regulation in its most recent U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Form 10-Q."
Financial disclosure forms obtained by DeSmogBlog also show Sen. Vitter owns stock in other polluting companies that stand to benefit from lax environmental standards such as: Chevron, ExxonMobil, Emerson Electric, General Electric, and NextEra Energy, which owns Florida Light & Power.
Sources for David Vitter's "Billionaire's Club" environmental funding report