Memo Reveals Role of Climate Industry Players: Arabella Advisors and New Venture Fund - Climate Litigation Watch

Memo Reveals Role of Climate Industry Players: Arabella Advisors and New Venture Fund

Previously, CLW noted the involvement of Arabella Advisors and its various constituent parts and clients in the climate industry, including the lavishly financed New Venture Fund (NVF). Both entities turned up in the public-record correspondence laying out the “United States Climate Alliance’s” creation [sic; the group doesn’t appear to exist].

That informal association of activist governors somehow provides off-books staff and consultants for elected officials, running the money through Ted Turner’s United Nations Foundation and which army of consultants then run the elected officials’ climate campaigning behind the scenes.

The office of Arabella-Advisors, San Francisco, CA

Chris Horner’s September 2018 paper for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, “Government for Rent”, identified campaign and gift questions raised by this arrangement. That paper did not go into what the same record productions laid out about Arabella and NVF.

In short, the duo approached the governors’ offices (Jay Inslee and Jerry Brown, both working with Andrew Cuomo’s office) offering to connect them with funders and run their planned climate ‘organization’ about which word had apparently spread.

Reviewing the two groups’ websites and NVF’s Form 990s, this appears to be an offer to fund the “USCA” campaign, which Arabella would be paid by NVF to manage and presumably with other groups receiving grants from NVF.

We say this because NVF’s 990 forms, which show it distributes millions each year to 501c3s to run “Environmental Programs”, state that it also pays Arabella many millions of dollars each year for its part of these services (e.g., $13.17 million (FY 2016), $13.1 million (FY 2015), $8.2 million (FY 2014)).

Arabella also advises for other 501c3s prominent in this effort, including Climate Nexus (which appears throughout USCA-related emails, as having been provided by Hewlett Foundation; although the group is a 501c3, GuideStar shows no 990s) and Rockefeller philanthropies.

The attached Arabella memo and correspondence were obtained under state-level open records requests. In it, Arabella helpfully sets forth what it does, in asking the offices of Governors Brown, Cuomo & Inslee to let it do the same in support of their climate activism.

Whatever this duo’s role in directly supporting the climate litigation industry, CLW is confident they’re heavily involved in the coming Climate Week spectacle September 23-27, yet again featuring several governors touting their use of elected office in pursuit of this aligned agenda. As “Government for Rent” and many other records not yet published confirm, much of the governors’ official activism is being paid for by donors.

Notable points from the Arabella pitch memo:

  • Lee Bodner, President of New Venture Fund (NVF) sent a memo to Chris Davis (Inslee), “attaching a memo which outlines ways that the New Venture Fund and Arabella Advisors might support you and the other governors’ offices with the US Climate Alliance.”
  • The offer is “to help you quickly secure and deploy resources for the Alliance”, “to help the governors form a secretariat, recruit additional partners, and secure fundraising and communications support for the Alliance”.
  • “Arabella is working with several climate funders”, they “manage grants”. “We can tap into these relationships and initiatives to help the governors”.
  • NVF can serve as a platform to hire dedicated staff and manage any contractors needed to advance the work.”
  • “We will draw on NVF and Arabella’s expansive networks with climate funders, corporate leaders, and investors to identify critical partners for the Alliance”.
  • “NVF can quickly contract with trusted fundraising and communications specialists to support” the infrastructure they create to execute the Alliance/campaign.
  • “NVF can secure and deploy Alliance resources” — note, with USCA not actually existing in any corporate form, “Alliance resources” is something of a euphemism — “rapidly contract with needed experts as needed [sic], and meet all financial reporting and compliance needs”.
  • The memo is not express about whether the duo is offering its services for free or for fee.
  • Arabella Advisors’ website suggests this memo is an offer of financing.
  • NVF’s IRS Form 990s strongly support this analysis/model.
  • Chris Davis, described it in circulating the offer to Brown, Cuomo and Inslee aides as “Another support offer”.
  • NVF’s website states “We collaborate with individuals and institutions to provide fiscal sponsorship and project hosting support that enable them to reach their philanthropic goals.”
  • NVF’s website suggests it is offering to manage and finance the campaign. “[W]e partner with our donors through each stage of the project’s lifecycle to ensure that we are meeting joint goals. Our donors rely on our expert ability to manage the complex challenges that come with new and innovative projects, freeing them to focus on the ideas and programmatic insights at the heart of their charitable mission.”
  • “NVF and Arabella manage dozens of climate and energy initiatives”, including:
  • Franciscan Sisters of Mary Advancing state-level clean energy policy in the United States: Arabella currently manages a $3M per year grant-making portfolio for a new funder based in the Midwest dedicated to empowering the voices of grassroots and marginalized populations to demand a clean energy future for their communities”
  • We Mean Business Reducing carbon emissions through corporate leadership We Mean Business is a coalition of leading business networks that share a commitment to spur momentum on climate action. NVF has hosted the multimillion-dollar collaborative since its inception in 2014, helping it to encourage greater low-carbon ambition and leadership in the corporate world and send a message to policy makers. NVF manages contracts, executes a high number of grants, reports complex financials, and manages multi-currency accounts payable.”


Arabella Govs docs (PDF)