A new investigation reveals charitable and environmental
organizations claiming to be nonpartisan may be using
donations to funnel money to Democratic Party
Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla.,
ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works
an updated report from an investigation into financial
and political activities of such groups. He referred to
several charitable and environmental organizations as
"wolves dressed in sheep's clothing."
"Campaigns to 'save the cuddly animals' or 'protect the
ancient forests' are really disguised efforts to raise
money for Democratic political campaigns," Inhofe said
while speaking on the Senate floor Saturday.
"Environmental organizations have become experts at
duplicitous activity, skirting laws up to the edge of
illegality, and burying their political activities under
the guise of nonprofit environmental improvement.
Inhofe referenced a League of
Conservation Voters, or LCV,
advertisement displayed on its website. The ad seeks
donations for the nonprofit organization.
"LCV takes these donations, given to 'save the
environment' and uses them to fund ads for Democratic
Candidates such as Ben Lujan from New Mexico," Inhofe
revealed. "LCV, similar to other groups I'll highlight
later, disguises itself as an environmental group
dedicated to saving the environment, yet, as shown by this
political ad, it is simply an extension of the Democratic
Inhofe accused the environmental groups of "fleecing
the American public's pockets," by using scare tactics to
obtain donations for Democrats in an election year.
"We also find exhausting litigation, instigation of
false claims, misleading
science, and scare tactics to fool
Americans into believing disastrous environmental
scenarios that are untrue," Inhofe said. "Especially in
this election year, the American voter should see these
groups and their many affiliate organizations as they are:
the newest insidious conspiracy of political action
committees and perhaps the newest multi-million dollar
manipulation of federal election laws."
The Wall Street Journal reported on the difficulty of
tracking political activity of 501(c) organizations,
stating the IRS does not require such organizations to
list spending records or distributors. The newspaper
conducted an investigation of 30 separate 501(c)
organizations that donated funds to elections from 2000 to
"The data show that the 30 organizations spent at least
$155 million on the 2006 elections, nearly twice what they
spent in 2000," the Journal reported.
While tax-exempt 501(c) nonprofit groups are allowed to
engage in political issues, they cannot participate in
specific political campaigns. Inhofe's report focused on
organizations such as Greenpeace, the
Defense Fund, the Natural Resources
Defense Council, the League of Conservation Voters, or
LCV, and the
The LCV releases a "Dirty Dozen" list of
environmentally unfriendly candidates
each election cycle, Inhofe said. Each year, the group
lists between 11 and 15 individuals, and every election
year since 1996 has included a minimum of 11 Republicans
and no more than one or two Democrats. Seventy-four of 83
names placed on the list since it began are Republicans.
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"By their bipartisan claims, it would be expected that
LCV's support would be split evenly; however, almost 90
percent of LCV's recommendations have been to remove
Republican candidates," Inhofe's report stated.
Additionally, he said the Sierra Club has a history of
endorsing candidates and has pledged its support to Sen.
Obama. It also announced support for 13
candidates for U.S. Senate – none are Republicans.
According to the report, 98 percent of Sierra Club
endorsements are for Democrats.
The investigation revealed Environmental Defense Fund
trustee Frank Loy is currently a top environmental adviser
for the Obama campaign. Another EDF trustee, Douglas
Shorenstein, donated $272,100 to Democrats, including
Hillary Clinton and Al Franken. Trustee Joanne Woodward
donated to the Clinton and Obama campaigns.
Inhofe revealed donors who contribute to environmental
causes may be unknowingly giving money to partisan
activities. He said the funds could have been used to
support conservation efforts.
"As an American citizen concerned about our environment
and our country, I'm dismayed and saddened by this
deception," he said. "If these groups actually used the
hundreds of millions of dollars they raise for actual
environmental improvement, just think how many whales and
forests we could save. These wolves should be seen for
what they really are: massive democratic political
machines, disguised as environmental causes."