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Leonardo DiCaprio funneled grants through dark money group to fund climate nuisance lawsuits

Leonardo DiCaprio’s non-profit basis awarded grants to a darkish cash group which, in flip, funneled cash to a regulation agency spearheading local weather nuisance lawsuits nationwide, in line with emails reviewed by Fox Information Digital. 

Correspondence between Dan Emmett, a serious philanthropist, and Ann Carlson — a College of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) local weather professor — in 2017 revealed that the 2 labored with regulation agency Sher Edling to lift cash for its efforts to sue oil corporations over alleged climate change deception on behalf of state and native governments, in line with the emails obtained by watchdog group Authorities Accountability & Oversight (GAO) and shared with Fox Information Digital.

Of their emails, Emmett and Carlson focus on how Chuck Savitt, Sher Edling’s director of strategic shopper relationships, had sought Emmett’s help and had already acquired help from Terry Tamminen in his function because the Leonardo DiCaprio Basis’s CEO, a title he held between 2016 and 2019. When the emails had been exchanged, Carlson, who’s now a senior Biden administration official, served as co-director of the UCLA Emmett Institute on Local weather Change & the Surroundings, the advisory board which Emmett nonetheless chairs.

“Chuck Savitt who’s heading this new group behind the lawsuits has been in search of our help,” Emmett wrote to Carlson on July 22, 2017. “Terry Tamminen in his new function with the DiCaprio Basis has been a key supporter.”

Emmett additionally forwarded a message Savitt despatched him three days earlier on July 19, 2022 asking for his help, in line with the data. Savitt talked about in that e-mail that Sher Edling’s first lawsuits had been filed with the help of the Collective Motion Fund for Accountability, Resilience and Adaptation, a fund managed on the time by darkish cash group Sources Legacy Fund (RLF).

“Needed to let you already know that we filed the primary three lawsuits supported by the Collective Motion Fund on Monday,” Savitt had instructed Emmett. “These precedent setting circumstances name on 37 of the world’s main fossil gasoline corporations to take accountability for the devastating harm sea stage rise – attributable to their greenhouse fuel emissions – is having on coastal communities.”

Savitt additionally provided to arrange a gathering between Emmett and Vic Sher, a associate at Sher Edling. 

The e-mail correspondence passed off two months earlier than the Leonardo DiCaprio Basis publicly introduced it will contribute $20 million in grants to numerous local weather and conservation causes. The group’s announcement, which has since been deleted but remains archived, included a grant to the RLF “to help precedent-setting authorized actions to carry main companies within the fossil gasoline trade liable,” carefully mirroring Savitt’s language.

“These grantees are lively on the bottom, defending our oceans, forests and endangered species for future generations – and tackling the pressing, existential challenges of local weather change,” DiCaprio stated on the time.

Tamminen added that the group believed it wanted “to do as a lot as we are able to now, earlier than it’s too late.” The announcement didn’t point out Sher Edling.

In February 2018, months after the preliminary e-mail alternate, Emmett instructed Carlson that she might point out to different potential donors that he and the Leonardo DiCaprio Basis had been now “severe supporters” of Sher Edling’s ongoing litigation. The suggestion got here after Carlson requested whether or not she ought to ask New York philanthropist Andy Sabin to help the hassle.

“You’ll be able to inform him Terry’s group and I are each severe supporters, that you’re an advisor, that the science is there, that it might do extra for the atmosphere than absolutely anything occurring if it succeeds,” Emmett stated within the e-mail Carlson.

Along with the Leonardo DiCaprio Basis and the Emmett Basis, the MacArthur Basis, William and Flora Hewlett Basis, Rockefeller Brothers Fund and JPB Basis have contributed to the Collective Motion Fund since 2017.

Sher Edling’s web site states that the agency is specifically dedicated to representing “states, cities, public companies, and companies in high-impact, high-value environmental circumstances.” Since its preliminary circumstances in July 2017 — filed on behalf of a metropolis and two counties in California — Sher Edling has sued main oil corporations on behalf of Delaware, Minnesota, Rhode Island, New York Metropolis, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Baltimore, Honolulu and several local governments across the country, alleging the businesses have deceived the general public about local weather change.

Many of the circumstances are ongoing with two, involving San Francisco and Oakland, Calfornia, on enchantment earlier than a federal panel.

“Clearly, the donors created — together with DiCaprio — a number of purported arms’ lengths,” Chris Horner, a lawyer who represented GAO within the case involving the emails, instructed Fox Information Digital in an interview.

“This mannequin used a few pass-throughs, by which DiCaprio and, it seems, Dan Emmett and others might run issues, together with DiCaprio’s basis and Sources Legacy Fund, they usually’re not seen as financing the assault,” Horner added.

General, the RLF contributed greater than $5.2 million to Sher Edling between 2017 and 2020, in line with the group’s tax filings throughout that interval. The group doesn’t disclose its donors and declined to substantiate who it beforehand acquired cash from to fund Sher Edling’s litigation.

Leonardo DiCaprio
The actor is thought for making lively efforts bringing consciousness to local weather change.
Getty Photos for Turner

“From 2017 to 2020, Sher Edling acquired grants from RLF to pursue charitable actions to carry fossil gasoline corporations accountable for the accuracy of data that they had disseminated to shoppers and the general public in regards to the function their merchandise performed in inflicting local weather change,” an RLF spokesperson Mark Kleinman instructed Fox Information Digital in an e-mail.

“RLF receives help from many funding entities, and its board of administrators and workers make all selections as to the place the funding goes,” the spokesperson continued.

Specialists have beforehand raised considerations concerning the supply of Sher Edling’s funding for its local weather litigation. 

Michael Krauss, a regulation professor emeritus at George Mason College, famous in a 2020 Forbes article the association wherein Sher Edling receives a payout from localities it represents if its circumstances are profitable whereas, on the similar time, it receives funding from tax-exempt teams, thereby eradicating some threat concerned with taking over such circumstances.

“Can a non-profit funnel donations to a for-profit regulation agency that has already decided a unique type of compensation?” Kraus wrote. “Might a regulation agency, which could possibly be fabulously enriched on a contingent foundation, ethically settle for funding that’s paid whether or not or not the shopper prevails?” 

“If laws by litigation is unhealthy, what to make of laws by litigation sponsored by taxpayers by charitable donations? We don’t have all of the solutions to those questions but,” he continued. “I believe we deserve them.”

Emmett, Tamminen, Sabin and the Earth Alliance, a company that subsumed the Leonardo DiCaprio Basis in 2019, didn’t reply to requests for remark.

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