CFACT

How Donors Trust distributed millions to anti-climate groups

The secretive funding network distributed $118m to 102 groups including some of the best-known thinktanks on the right

exhibitors promote their oil and gas related businesses : funding climate change deniers

Dozens of exhibitors promote their oil and gas related businesses. By 2010, Donors Trust had distributed $118m to 102 thinktanks or action groups. Photograph: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

(editors note:  VLTP has previously noted Donor’s Trust, the American Enterprise Institute, Amerians for Prosperity, and the Heartland Institute as members of the Koch/ALEC Cabal, which we now know is international in scope.)
The secretive funding channel known as the Donors Trust patronised a host of conservative causes.

But climate was at the top of the list. By 2010, Donors Trust had distributed $118m to 102 thinktanks or action groups which have a record of denying the existence of a human factor in climate change, or opposing environmental regulations.

Recipients included some of the best-known thinktanks on the right. The American Enterprise Institute, which is closely connected to the Republican party establishment and has a large staff of scholars, received more than $17m in untraceable donations over the years, the record show.

But relatively obscure organisations did not go overlooked. The Heartland Institute, virtually unknown outside the small world of climate politics, received $13.5m from the Donors Trust.

Americans for Prosperity, the Tea Party group seen as the strike force of the conservative oil billionaire Koch Brothers, received $11m since 2002.

Levi Russell, spokesman for Americans for Prosperity, declined to comment on the importance of that support to the organisation. “We’re very grateful for each of the millions of activists and donors that make what we do possible,” he said in an email.

The secretive funding network also funded individuals, such as Jo Kwong, an official at the Philanthropy Roundtable who was awarded $200,000 in 2010. And there was strong interest in funding media projects.

Some of the groups on the Donors Trust list would have struggled to exist without being bankrolled by anonymous donors.

The support helped the Committee 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, Morano put out a point by point rebuttal to the section on climate change.

The gregarious Morano is a former aide to the Republican senator Jim Inhofe notorious for declaring climate change the greatest hoax on mankind.

According to Cfact’s tax filings, Morano, listed as communications director, was the most highly paid member of the organisation.

However, Craig Rucker, the group’s executive director, insisted the funding was not critical to their work. “It is not crucial in the least. Climate Depot’s continued operation is not linked to funding from any particular source,” he said.

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This article is written by Suzanne Goldenberg and was posted at The Guardian, Thursday 14 February 2013
the guardian

Conservative plans to oppose wind power – Using the Conservative Template for PR/Propaganda

This strategy document calls for a national PR campaign aimed at causing ‘subversion … so that it effectively becomes so bad that no one wants to admit in public they are for it’.

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UPDATED

…been thinking a lot about this post from earlier today. So much that I’ve changed the title with this update…This is such valuable information for environmentalists and other who believe in the need for renewable, “green” energy…but…deja vu all over again

VLTP has covered the conservative echo chamber and the way that the radical right uses it to sell their ideas to people who believe easy talking points and as easily-digested an explanation as possible.  But I’ve never seen the template, the modus operandus (part of the ALEC DNA)  spelled out this concisely before by a conservative source.

Amazingly, this strategy has worked for so long – and it still works.  It Still Works.  When will the media realize that they are being used to manipulate the American people?

Oops.  Forgot.  The myth of the “liberal” media.

Take a look at the list of ALEC’s Corporate Members from CMD’s SourceWatch (click here to refresh your memory).  Major networks.  Major newspapers.  Major publishers.  Major advertisers.

Catch the ads from ALEC’s Corporate Members all over the prime time on t MSNBC, as well as on the MSNBC web site.  What happened to Current TV?  Could it have been their advertising stance?

Aaron Sorkin got it right-on when he wrote this into his fictional HBO series, Newsroom. Click here to watch a key scene about how economic pressure could be used to quiet the way the medium is used to convey the message (apologies to Marshall McLuhan).

To get back on point, tonight’s evening news was airing a report on the NRA’s ongoing fight against gun control.  All I could think was how simple it would be to substitute the NRA, gun control, and Wayne LaPierre for those who oppose green energy in the article below.

In Australia they are currently fighting the Tobacco War, much as we did here years ago.  ALEC is there with their local members – including Sen. Cory Bernardi –using the playbook developed here.  A key part of their strategy is a PR campaign based on the same template that produced the National Campaign Strategy in the article below.

You can easily see the PR/Propaganda Template below in this report from The Guardian, U.K.

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Conservative plans to oppose wind power – memo

(This) Strategy document calls for a national PR campaign aimed at causing ‘subversion … so that it effectively becomes so bad that no one wants to admit in public they are for it’.

alecfossilfuelfunders

(here is the downloaded text file of campaign plans.  Emphasis added by me)

1: NATIONAL PR CAMPAIGN PROPOSAL
Draft from Rich Porter: 4/25/11.  Edited by John Droz: 1/23/12
— CONFIDENTIAL —

PR Audiences:

Policy/Political,
Local-State-Federal,
Landowner/Lease Grantor,
General Public (including non-rural population),
Tax Payer,
Utility Rate Payer,
Business Owner,
Media Academics,
Students

PR Strategy:

Create a national professional Public Relations (PR) campaign to effectively communicate with the selected audiences using targeted messages.   Have a consistent, positive, national message.  Be FOR something (e.g. Science), not AGAINST something (e.g. wind energy). Be proactive vs reactive. 

The minimum national PR campaign goal is to constructively influence national and state wind energy policies. A broader possible goal is to constructively influence national and state energy and environmental policies. Resolve: are our interests just wind energy, or broader?

The goal will be realized by coordination of a focused message along many channels and with multiple voices. The intent is to target the identified audiences with consistent messaging to create positive change.  Public opinion must begin to change among citizens at large. Create a grass-roots ground swell from which the clamor for change will reach the elected officials and policy-makers.

The message will be determined from a variety of analysis techniques including inputs from local groups and others who have an interest in spreading the message. The message will be tested for resonance with the audiences, and the dynamic of the audience shall be periodically assessed.

In addition to have the appropriate message, it needs to be communicated optimally.

We need to study and apply good communication skills.

Decide whether or not a national organization is advisable as well
(Part 2).


Goals of the PR Campaign

A) Cause the targeted audience to change its opinion and action based on the messages.

B) Provide credible counter message to the (wind) industry.

C) Disrupt industry message with countermeasures.

D) Cause subversion in message of industry so that it effectively becomes so bad no one wants to admit in public they are for it (much like wind has done to coal, by turning green to black and clean to dirty).

Ultimate Goal: Change policy direction based on the message. 


Some PR Tactics:

Most of this could be done by volunteers without having a formal
national organization.  Discuss how this would work and who would have
what responsibilities.

Consider joining forces w some already established organization where there is substantial commonality and commitment (e.g. ATI, Heartland, IER, CEI, Marshall, Brookings, Cato, Manhattan, AFP, FW, CFACT, ALEC, NA-PAW, etc.).

Provide training to local leaders regarding PR.

Provide local groups support materials, like PowerPoint templates to put on local education seminars, document templates for them to file with their state utility commission, etc.

Have a high-quality professional brochure available as a handout,
which summarizes the situation with wind energy (e.g. Rasmussen).

Encourage critical thinking from members and the public.

Develop a list of experts for testimony to government agencies, etc.

Identify key topics (e.g. health) and get volunteers to act as a clearing house for information and posting timely information for activists on a website.

Assign key people to be media interfaces (those who are knowledgeable can think on their feet, camera friendly, etc.)

Coordinate messages to address local, state and federal levels of
lawmakers.

Create some catch phrases of wind energy — e.g. puff power, breeze energy.

Setup a volunteer lobbying effort to reach key lawmakers. 

Identify and connect with like-minded groups such as tax, tea party, true environmentalists, business organizations, property rights advocates, etc.

 

2: NATIONAL ORGANIZATION PROPOSAL
Some Considerations Regarding a National Organization:

 [Note: This is optional. All of the above PR would be done as well, but having a funded national organization would allow for a more comprehensive PR effort.]

Decide on the purpose of a national organization, and how it would interface with local groups.  (E.g. local websites would primarily have info pertaining to the local issues. Education re wind energy would be handled nationally.)

Decide on the structure of a national organization, and where the funds would come from to support it.

Create a “think-tank” subgroup to produce and disseminate white paper reports and scientific quotes and papers that back-up the message. 

Timely gathering of information as it appears in media outlets on this subject.

Media Outreach & Response (communications) Committee will create and coordinate media contact campaigns. Use PR Newswire as the wind industry does currently.

Create advertising campaign for radio, TV, and alternative media. Coordinate with signage, tee-shirts, hats, bumper stickers etc.

Employ a well-known spokesman with star credibility. (Find one to volunteer?)

Develop corporate partnerships where the message goes onto bags, signs, tents and other outlets. Start a “get people talking” campaign. Use controversy to spark ideas.

Youth Outreach will create program for public school coordination as well as college coordination. This will include community activity and participation with sponsorships for science fairs, school activity etc. with preset parameters that cause students to steer away from wind because they discover it doesn’t meet the criteria we set up (poster contest, essays etc).

Setup a dummy business that will go into communities considering wind development, proposing to build 400 foot billboards.

Social Media Outreach director/create coordination for message on web and in Twitter-type outreach, YouTube, etc.

Create counter-intelligence branch (responsible for communicating current industry tactics and strategies as feedback to this organization)

A team investigates links to any organization supporting wind in order to expose that support.

Provide alternative solutions for public consumption as well as re-branding of the current wind industry?

Write expose book on the industry, showing government waste, harm to communities and other negative impacts on people and the environment.

Meme (self-replicating messages) Response Coordinator (This will help slow the meme effect of the industry, for instance when a company places a seal  showing wind power was used to produce the product, we automatically assign a tax wasting  symbol to the product and recommend a boycott on the website.  When a company uses wind power as marketing tool, or illustration such as a toy manufacturer showing turbines on the box, we automatically contact them to tell them we will list them on the web as actively participating in disinformation by favorably showing wind turbines).

Legal Department for contract review and guidance on communication efforts, and also taking developers (etc.) to court on various issues to cause media exposure. Maintain a comprehensive  collection of court cases on this subject. Also to provide legal voice for those who have none in this issue.  Develop legal strategies that can be copied in other areasTake zoning boards to court to rezone as industrial land to create chilling effect on signing contracts.  Also sue for property value loss to small land holders, and use all legal cases to create media poster child effect. Sue states regarding RPS. Sue state utility commissioners who don’t do their job. Etc.

Proposed Structure of a National Organization  

A paid, full time director will report to a board on which the director has a voting seat.  The director shall have one paid executive assistant.  The organization shall rely on a network of volunteer state committee chairpeople who are to coordinate efforts to disseminate the message in the state.  The chairperson shall make contacts and maintain them with various ad hoc groups throughout the state that would benefit from the coordinated message.

The director shall make use of information gathering technology to stay abreast of developments in the media and industry and then coordinate appropriate messages accordingly.   This technology shall include a subscription to Nexus.

The director shall also develop and maintain contacts and coordinate their actions in regards to the message.

The organization shall maintain 501c3 and PAC status and shall coordinate lobby efforts at the congressional and state levels.

The director will make use of scientific research which is designed to gauge the response to the message and allow for the adjustment of the message from time to time.  The same research is also to determine the weaknesses in opposition messages for the purpose of exploiting them to the end goal of the campaign.

National Organization: Details and Narrative. 

The purpose of a national organization would be to do a better, quicker job at constructively influencing national and state wind energy policies. A broader possible goal might be to constructively influence national and state energy and environmental policies.

The goal will be realized by coordination of a focused message along many channels and with multiple voices. The intent is to target three audiences with consistent messaging to create the change.  Public opinion must begin to change in what should appear as a “groundswell” among grass roots.   The message will be determined from a variety of analysis techniques including interviews with local groups and others who have an interest in spreading the message.  Those who hold opposing views must also be assessed.  The analysis will include scientific polls as well as focus groups to be used on a continuing basis from time to time to direct and focus the campaign on messages that are useful to the end goal.  As perceptions change over time, a barometer must be used to determine those changes and make dynamic adjustments in the  message and campaign.

The amount of time and energy the campaign will consume will necessarily require a minimum of two paid positions with consideration for the addition of other paid positions as the campaign grows and is able to garner more funding.  A director will be appointed by a board, on which the director shall make material contributions to the direction the board takes in its approach.   The director should have at least one administrative assistant paid to help with work loads.  The work load of the director will likely exceed 60 hours per week and more if travel is included.  A travel budget should also be planned to allow the director to meet with key persons in the various states where the campaign will become active.

The director position assumes that volunteers are ready and willing to begin serving in various committee positions as soon as possible.  The beginning committees can be constituted by a board vote and should include the following for immediate activation:

Media
Science
Regional State Coordinators
Networking
Political / Lobby
Group Policy.

The group policy committee will decide the key messages and focus and will use data from analysis and research to make its decisions.  The decisions from this committee will be used to guide the efforts of the organization in communicating with the prospective audiences.  This committee is responsible for analyzing and responding to the dynamics of the audiences over time, and is key to successfully implementing the strategy by identifying the correct arguments and tone for resonance among the audiences.

The media committee is responsible for implementing the message in a variety of media resources including traditional media, new media, social media and networking.  This committee will also be responsible for using analysis to determine the most appropriate packaging of the message for the various outlets.  It should consider what channels and voices to use in each instance.  This committee will have the responsibility of message integrity, that is, the continuity of message.  The committee will need resources for message positioning as well as utilizing free message placement techniques.

The science committee will be responsible for assembling a directorate of scientists with the proper credentials to be accepted by main stream media.  Those credentials are also important in making the scientific material harder to target and more difficult to tear down by the opposition.  This committee will coordinate with the directorate to develop a highly respectable collection of scientific white papers and reports that are consistent in their approach to supporting the messages chosen as most likely to succeed.  This committee will provide well respected scientists for media and political symposiums to be conducted to further establish the messages.  They will coordinate their efforts with other committees whose duties will include dissemination of the science.

The state and regional coordinators will be volunteers appointed to regional positions to remain in contact with the state leaders in their area.  They will ascertain the needs of the state and also local campaigns and be responsible for regularly reporting those needs to the organization so they can be addressed.  They will also be responsible for coordinating the flow of information in two directions between the organization and the state.  They should hold a monthly meeting where round -robin information sharing assures the flow of information up into the organization.  The coordinators will also individually be responsible for reaching out weekly to their state contacts to maintain a current picture of the situation on the ground, and should communicate any urgent state needs directly up to the director who should then coordinate the appropriate response.

The networking committee will be responsible for coordinating the response of networked groups with like-mind on our message. These will include the tea party, anti-tax leagues and utility rate groups as well as government watch-dog, anti-waste groups.  This committee will help spread our message to the network groups and then gather feed-back as to their interests and needs for further information from the organization.

Political and lobby committee is the coordinating arm for the message going to elected officials and contact with them in the capacity of lobby efforts.  This group ideally will be able to present a ground swell of public opinion in addition to facts that support the message.  The lobby efforts will include targeted opposition to current bills that continue the policy this organization opposes.   A coordination with the science committee is important to provide facts for lawmakers in a format they can understand easily.

Funding for a National Organization

The organization will need funding and a recommendation of $750,000 for seed and startup is probably a realistic number.  Printed materials, mailing, and the creation of a media packet, plus phone and computer links and information services.  Travel will be necessary as well.  The director should receive a salary of not less than $80,000 per year with an assistant receiving $35,000 per year.  The director should have experience in PR and media with the appropriate understanding of marketing techniques.  High level of creativity in developing media strategies, with emphasis on writing and communications.  This person must think outside the box and be willing to use the latest understanding of PR to counteract the opposing message and strategy across a broad range of audiences.

This is a recommendation to hire a professional fundraiser responsible for coordinating  donations to both the 501c3 and Pac.  The fundraising efforts should be separated from the duties of the director so as not to interfere with the day to day activities needed to keep the campaign moving forward.

  Example Scenario (for a National Organization)

In this example, the group policy committee has identified that a particular bill providing funding for the opposition has been advanced to committee for a hearing.  Policy committee has asked for a coordinated effort to stop the progress of the funding measure.

First, the lobby committee uses their contacts to begin a campaign from the inside against the bill with phone calls and private meetings.  They meet with several staffers who suggest that the bill is being supported because it has been moved as green legislation and several committee members are afraid to oppose it on that basis.  The lobby committee reports this to media and science for further action.

The media committee decides to use a full page advertisement in the Washington Post as a method of communicating the ‘not so green truth’ to congress, and at the same time coordinates a special interview and story from a scientific point of view that illustrates the dirty side of the industry.  At this same time, the science committee holds a press conference to announce that the industry is using dishonesty and “greenwashing” as a cover for what amounts to corporate welfare.  

The message is also repeated in Wash Times, WSJ, Fox and other sources.

State regional coordinators are tapped at this time to provide a letter writing campaign from the grass roots asking the key legislators to back away from the funding measure.  This campaign is also echoed in various directorate groups coordinated from the organization including tea party, anti-tax leagues, etc.

The coordinated effort stretches across multi-channels and multi-voices, and appears to come from as many as a dozen separate sources, but the message is the same and stays on point.  The created barrage of voices provides enough cover that the elected officials have a way to vote no because they can clearly see they have support for our position.

CONCLUSION

A more consistent professional PR campaign is an absolute imperative. With well over a hundred US local groups fighting the same issue, it is clearly advisable that these people be on the same page. What sense does it make for each of these groups to be reinventing the wheel, and duplicating efforts?

There are several options as to how this can be implemented, ranging from the informal to the very structured.

The low cost alternative is to continue to rely on volunteers, and not to have a national organization. That can work, to a degree, but there still is a critical need for the numerous local groups across the country to work more closely together. Exactly how that can be best done is what needs to be resolved.

The more high-end approach would insure the widest distribution of the best message — but will require considerable time effort and funding. A national organization can not be accomplished without full-time people working to coordinate local efforts. Are we prepared to commit to that option at this point?  

Establishing a national organization (if that is the chosen route) should be viewed as a long term project.  A three year plan should be developed that can offer some time table for expected results. Due to the size of this undertaking, this plan should include a roll-out period where a test of the organization can be made in a single state or region of states first, before going to a national format.

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This article was published by The Guardian, and can be found at http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/interactive/2012/may/09/wind-power-memo
the guardian