WSJ’s Strassel Touches on Key Climate Industry Players: Public records elaborate further - Climate Litigation Watch

WSJ’s Strassel Touches on Key Climate Industry Players: Public records elaborate further

Last Friday, Wall Street Journal columnist Kim Strassel wrote about “The Left’s Lucrative Nonprofits”. This included was a brief exploration of Arabella Advisors. Strassel wrote:

Dark, powerful money? The left has a monopoly here, too, via the creation of a new “sponsor” model. Take Arabella Advisers, also the subject of a Capital Research Center report. Arabella is a for-profit, privately held entity. It manages four generously funded liberal nonprofits, which according to tax filings between 2013 and 2017 received $1.6 billion in donations. Those four entities in turn collectively “sponsor” dozens of political outfits. The beauty of this arrangement, for the left, is that the “projects” don’t have to disclose any information—salaries, vendors, original funders, boards, nothing. They are black holes.

Capital Research Center produced an in-depth look at Arabella this past Spring.

This study by the Capital Research Center documents a shadowy web into which nearly $600 million flowed in 2017, the most recent year for which tax returns are available. Operating under the aegis of “philanthropy,” this network is housed in and staffed by a for-profit, privately held consultancy called Arabella Advisors, LLC. Arabella manages four nonprofit entities—the New Venture Fund, Sixteen Thirty Fund, Windward Fund, and Hopewell Fund—each of which shares an address and interlocking officers with Arabella.

Interestingly, both Arabella and Windward Fund are key players in the climate litigation industry. 

Thanks to public records, including those obtained by the transparency groups Energy Policy Advocates (EPA) and Government Accountability & Oversight (GAO), we know several things. First is that Chuck Savitt, Director of Strategic Client Relationships for the climate-nuisance plaintiffs’ firm Sher Edling, has taken the lead pitching numerous Florida cities to sue energy companies as part of the climate litigation industry, including Miami and Miami Beach.

His target city Ft. Lauderdale publicly insisted it will not join the litigation scheme, after EPA and GAO open records productions laid bare the recruiting effort in great detail.

Savitt is also the founder and senior counselor of Island Press, a nonprofit media company where Sher Edling’s Vic Sher previously was a board member. Savitt is also Treasurer of the Windward Fund. Windward’s Board is led by Lee Bodner, president of the New Venture Fund and former managing director at Arabella Advisors. Bruce Boyd is a Director and works for Arabella Advisors, while also serving on the board of the Rockefeller Family Fund’s (RFF) Environmental Grantmakers Association. Director Aileen Lee previously served as the latter’s chair. The Rockefeller Foundation gave Windward a $1.5 million grant in 2016.

Windward has a Climate Resilience Fund and states that one of its services is fiscal sponsorship. “Windward offers comprehensive fiscal sponsorship to projects that already exist as a legal entity but do not have tax-exempt status. While you run your operations, finances, and programs, Windward accepts donations into a restricted fund and grants them to organizations that support your mission.”

In other words, serving as a pass-through, Windward accepts funding via grants and donations from wealthy foundations and then gives the money to other groups specifically to support the mission of businesses that cannot receive tax-exempt grants and donations. It is unclear whether Chuck Savitt is able to direct money from the Rockefellers and other pro-litigation/anti-energy funders through Windward Foundation and give it to non-profit groups (including non-profit PR firms) offering support to Sher Edling’s campaign.

Windward paid Arabella Advisors $740,180 in 2016 for consulting services. That’s a pittance compared with what others paid Arabella to run campaigns.

These campaigns — both actual and attempted — are very interesting, as revealed in some eye-opening records obtained numerous by Government Accountability & Oversight’s Chris Horner but not previously made public. 

With the Climate Industry’s big week approaching later this month, these activities and records warrant detailed exploration and will be the subject of future posts.