Leonardo DiCaprio’s non-profit org. funneled grants to dark money group for climate suits, emails show

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.

“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.”

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.

“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.”

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.

“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.”

Get the latest BPR news delivered free to your inbox daily. SIGN UP HERE


Please help us! If you are fed up with letting radical big tech execs, phony fact-checkers, tyrannical liberals and a lying mainstream media have unprecedented power over your news please consider making a donation to BPR to help us fight them. Now is the time. Truth has never been more critical!

Success! Thank you for donating. Please share BPR content to help combat the lies.


We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, profanity, vulgarity, doxing, or discourteous behavior. If a comment is spam, instead of replying to it please click the ∨ icon below and to the right of that comment. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain fruitful conversation.

PLEASE JOIN OUR NEW COMMENT SYSTEM! We love hearing from our readers and invite you to join us for feedback and great conversation. If you've commented with us before, we'll need you to re-input your email address for this. The public will not see it and we do not share it.

Latest Articles