Fox News has obtained emails allegedly showing Leonardo DiCaprio’s non-profit foundation awarded grants to a dark money group that funded a law firm filing climate nuisance lawsuits nationwide.
The 2017 emails are between Dan Emmett, a philanthropist, and Ann Carlson, who is a University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) climate professor. Both individuals seem to have had a working relationship with a law firm named Sher Edling. They raised money to sue oil companies over alleged climate change deception on behalf of state and local governments, according to the watchdog group, Government Accountability & Oversight (GAO), which shared them with Fox News Digital.
Emmett and Carlson discuss Chuck Savitt, Sher Edling’s director of strategic client relationships, and his efforts to garner Emmett’s support in regard to their climate change activities. Terry Tamminen, who was the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation’s CEO, a title he held between 2016 and 2019, had already pledged support for the law firm’s actions.
During the period when the emails were sent back and forth, Carlson was the co-director of the UCLA Emmett Institute on Climate Change & the Environment. She still chairs that advisory board and is also the General Counsel of the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) with the Biden administration.
When Leonardo DiCaprio is the loudest voice singing your praises, you know that your administration and party is more interested in appealing Hollywood woke ideologies than helping working class Americans.
— Blair Brandt (@BlairBrandt) August 15, 2022
“Chuck Savitt who is heading this new organization behind the lawsuits has been seeking our support,” Emmett reportedly emailed Carlson on July 22, 2017. “Terry Tamminen in his new role with the DiCaprio Foundation has been a key supporter.”
Three days earlier, Savitt sent Emmett an email, asking for his support. In that email, Savitt noted that Sher Edling’s initial lawsuits were filed with the support of the Collective Action Fund for Accountability, Resilience, and Adaptation, which was a fund managed by the dark money group, Resources Legacy Fund (RLF).
“Wanted to let you know that we filed the first three lawsuits supported by the Collective Action Fund on Monday,” Savitt stated in an email to Emmett. “These precedent setting cases call on 37 of the world’s leading fossil fuel companies to take responsibility for the devastating damage sea level rise – caused by their greenhouse gas emissions – is having on coastal communities.”
– Lecturing us on climate change
– With his mega yacht 🛥️ emitting more carbon in a single trip than your car in your entire lifetime! 🤡 pic.twitter.com/bmBC5TrB4l
— Jehan Hameed (@jehan_hameed) August 6, 2022
The email exchange occurred two months before the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation announced it would contribute $20 million in grants to various climate and conservation causes. The group’s now-deleted announcement included a grant to the RLF “to support precedent-setting legal actions to hold major corporations in the fossil fuel industry liable.”
“These grantees are active on the ground, protecting our oceans, forests and endangered species for future generations – and tackling the urgent, existential challenges of climate change,” DiCaprio proclaimed.
In February 2018, Emmett told Carlson that she could promote to other prospective donors that he and the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation were now “serious supporters” of Sher Edling’s ongoing litigation.
Mr. Elitist and Caron Violator, @LeoDiCaprio is targeting minorities and poor by supporting climate nuisance lawsuits that is driving inflation.
— Na cho friend (@traik01) August 15, 2022
“You can tell him Terry’s organization and I are both serious supporters, that you are an advisor, that the science is there, that it could do more for the environment than just about anything going on if it succeeds,” Emmett told Carlson in the email.
Other contributors to the Collective Action Fund include the MacArthur Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the JPB Foundation according to Fox News Digital.
“Obviously, the donors created — including DiCaprio — several purported arms’ lengths,” Chris Horner, who is an attorney that represented GAO in the case involving the emails, told the media outlet. “This model used a couple of pass-throughs, by which DiCaprio and, it appears, Dan Emmett and others could run things, including DiCaprio’s foundation and Resources Legacy Fund, and they’re not seen as financing the assault.”
Congress passed the biggest #ClimateAction in U.S. history. It’s a major step forward, propelling us into the work that remains to address the unjust burden on communities of color. Thank you to @NRDC_Action for its continuous work to build a healthy future for all. pic.twitter.com/SG78Kh6gAn
— Leonardo DiCaprio (@LeoDiCaprio) August 13, 2022
Thank you to the @SenateDems for passing the Inflation Reduction Act. This bill, the largest climate investment in US history, is a major step forward in securing the country’s commitment to effective #ClimateAction. https://t.co/Ss6Kmr3c9r
— Leonardo DiCaprio (@LeoDiCaprio) August 9, 2022
According to tax filings, the RLF gave more than $5.2 million to Sher Edling between 2017 and 2020.
“From 2017 to 2020, Sher Edling received grants from RLF to pursue charitable activities to hold fossil fuel companies accountable for the accuracy of information they had disseminated to consumers and the public about the role their products played in causing climate change,” RLF spokesperson Mark Kleinman told Fox News Digital via an email.
“RLF receives support from many funding entities, and its board of directors and staff make all decisions as to where the funding goes,” the spokesperson added.
So Leonardo DiCaprio is going to lecture me on climate change while lying on a private yatch he arrived at after flying on a private jet. Leo maybe you should have gone down on the Titanic.
— Mark Lawrence (@MarkLaw27495501) August 15, 2022
“Can a non-profit funnel donations to a for-profit law firm that has already determined a different form of compensation?” Michael Krauss, a law professor emeritus at George Mason University, wrote in a 2020 Forbes article. “May a law firm, which could be fabulously enriched on a contingent basis, ethically accept funding that is paid whether or not the client prevails?”
“If legislation through litigation is bad, what to make of legislation through litigation subsidized by taxpayers through charitable donations? We don’t have all the answers to these questions yet,” he asserted. “I think we deserve them.”
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