That Big Oil (or whatever fossil fuel industry) funds free-market, limited government organizations and candidates (who also tend to fit into the global warming realism camp) is a familiar attempt to discredit them by watermelon groups and by the formerly mainstream media. Meanwhile those very same green socialist groups escape scrutiny of their own lobbying and relationships, because their bedmates give them no reason to suspect anything!
However, those of us who are curious have been poking around. Today the Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives published a report I wrote that examines the hypocritical and possibly illegal behavior of Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future (known better as PennFuture). Among the findings:
- While the organization condemns the natural gas industry for its lobbying against increased and selective taxation of its investments, PennFuture has received nearly $1 million during the last five years from alternative energy companies. These companies benefited from PennFuture's lobbying for corporate tax breaks and taxpayer-funded "economic development" funds for wind and solar projects in Pennsylvania. This practice has also allowed PennFuture to serve as a de facto lobbyist for those alternative energy companies, enabling them to skirt disclosure under state lobbying laws.
- Even as PennFuture solicited volunteer and member assistance to pressure legislators to pass or oppose specific pieces of legislation, the group reported to the Internal Revenue Service that it spent no money on grassroots lobbying on four of its past five tax returns.
- PennFuture's lobbying of state officials is also funded by the taxpayers. Since 2002, the group has lobbied for and received over $1 million in taxpayer money, which is then used to lobby elected and appointed officials for additional taxpayer money.
PennFuture doesn't seem happy with the report. President Jan Jarrett said in a press release:
We have forthrightly answered every request for information and every reporter’s questions. If there are errors in our accounting or reporting, we will correct them immediately.
“How can any of our activities be considered ‘secret’ when the primary sources for the Commonwealth Foundation’s ‘report’ are PennFuture’s own public documents, websites, and reports, and other public websites? PennFuture is committed to transparency. Unable to prove any malevolence, the author is reduced to launching a classic smear attack.
Hey Jan -- your activities are "secret" when you tell the IRS you have spent ZERO dollars on grassroots lobbying when the evidence clearly shows PennFuture engaged in such activities. ZERO dollars does not look like an error; it looks like deception.
How many other watermelon groups behave this way? I welcome tips.