Dirty Front Groups’ Secret Piggybank: Donors Trust & Donors Capital Fund

by Connor Gibson

February 14, 2013

For those familiar with the effort of ExxonMobil and the Koch brothers to bankroll a network of organizations denying basic climate science, a new article in the Guardian offers some revelatory information on the secret funding network that outweighs even top denier sugar daddies like Koch and Exxon. Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund, based out of the DC suburb of Alexandria, VA, have sent $118 million to the 'climate denial machine' from 2002-2010, according to a Greenpeace analysis featured in the Guardian. The graph above, from the article, illustrates the significance of this money as compared to giants like Koch and Exxon. Of course, the Koch brothers are part of the Donors Trust network, using the DONORS groups to hide their own giving to a variety of corporate front groups. Because of the obscurity provided by DONORS, we don't know exactly who is getting exactly how much of the Koch payments to Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund. An accompanying article by the Guardian shows how the DONORS groups provide large portions of organisations' entire budgets, such as the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow, which even among climate deniers is notably anti-scientific.
The support helped theCommittee for a Constructive Tomorrow(Cfact), expand from $600,000 to $3m annual operation. In 2010, Cfact received nearly half of its budget from those anonymous donors, the records show. The group's most visible product is the website,Climate Depot, a contrarian news source run by Marc Morano. Climate Depot sees itself as the rapid reaction force of the anti-climate cause. On the morning after Obama's state of the union address, Moranoput out a point by point rebuttal to the section on climate change.
CFACT is among over a dozen organizations that get 30%-70% of their total budgets from the two DONORS groups.As we reported on PolluterWatch last October using 2010 IRS tax filings:
  • Americans For Prosperity Foundationgot $7.6 million from DONORS groups in 2010,43% of its budget. AFP Foundation is chaired by David Koch and has received millions in direct funding from Koch foundations since the Koch brothers founded it.
  • Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow(CFACT) got $1.3 million from DONORS in 2010,45% of its budget.
  • Cornwall Alliance(through the James Partnership) got $339,500 from DONORS in 2010,75% of its budget.
  • Heartland Institutegot $1.6 million from DONORS in 2010,27% of it's budget, which came from Chicago billionaireBarre Seid(see p. 67).
  • State Policy Networkgot 36% of its 2010 budget ($4.8 million) from DONORS.SPNmembersinclude just about every climate-denying organization and every conservative think tank in the country,including AFP and Heartland.
Koch is clearly embarrassed by the negative publicity (see press roundup below). Koch "Facts," the company's PR website that lashes back at unfavorable reporting on Koch, attempted to respond to the flood of press on the DONORS groups without mentioning them by name. Similarly, Donors Trust president Whitney Ball has done her best to keep Donors Trust and Koch from being synonymous. To be clear--they are not, but the Kochs and their operatives are key players in the Donors network, with people like Arthur Brooks of the American Enterprise Institute and Steven Hayward of the Pacific Research Institute helping oversee DONORS operations, including millions in funding to their own organizations. Greenpeace has more coming on Donors Trust, Donors Capital Fund, Koch Industries and the ongoing misinformation pumping out of the climate denial machine. Stay tuned. Key articles on Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund:
Connor Gibson

By Connor Gibson

Connor Gibson does research for Greenpeace's Investigations team. He focuses on polluting industries, their front groups and PR operatives, particularly focusing on the Koch Brothers.

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