The Green in Greenpeace

By May 31, 2007Global Warming

Activists groups like Greenpeace make much of the financing that corporations provide to think tanks and foundations, claiming that the dollars determine outcomes. The truth of the matter is corporations give money for a variety of reasons — purely eleemosynary, to be a good corporate citizen, PR, or to promote political or cultural principles (or skills, etc.) consistent with their business philosophy. Or all of the above. All legitimate. And we’d say the same for the foundations and inviduals that support anti-business groups.

But the well-financed Greenpeace and their compadres never tire of claiming nefarious, dollar-driven connects. It’s tiresome, a way to avoid engaging the arguments.

Most recently, Greenpeace blasted the National Center for Public Policy Research, a free-market think tank, accusing the center of being a tool of big oil in its questioning of the science and politics involved in global warming. So the National Center shot back, challenging Greenpeace to be as transparent with its funding as the center is with its own money. (May 18th news release here.) Tell us your donations from last year in excess of $50,000.

No response, yet, so the NCPPR sent a follow-up letter from its vice president, David A. Ridenour, on Wednesday. (The full text is in the extended entry below.)

Perhaps you allow donations to influence your positions on public policy issues. We do not.

Since you’ve raised the issue of public disclosure of grants in a manner critical of others, we believe you should lead by example. That’s why I’m challenging you to a very high standard for transparency. If Greenpeace will publicly disclose its donations exceeding $50,000, we will do the same.

Ridenour notes that the Greenpeace Fund gave Greenpeace itself $3.6 million in 2006 — 23 percent of the group’s funding — in a non-transparent transfer.

Good and positive challenge, albeit with a few digs thrown it, but Ridenour still doesn’t imply base motives the way Greenpeace is quick to do. We’re sure Greenpeace will take the challenge in the spirit in which it is intended. Right?

UPDATE (4 p.m.): The National Center’s Amy Ridenour posts more on the topic here. She writes:

Greenpeace is spending tax-exempt dollars “exposing” the names of donors to groups with which Greenpeace disagrees, yet Greenpeace hides the identity of some of its major donors. Since Greenpeace apparently perceives itself as being “on the payroll” of its donors, and believes in “exposing” (although what Greenpeace “exposed” had already been voluntarily and publicly disclosed in multiple venues) the names of the donors to other organizations, shouldn’t it fullfill the disclosure standard it has set?


May 30, 2007

Mr. John Passacantando
Executive Director, Inc.
Greenpeace, Inc.
702 H Street, NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20001

Dear John:

Greenpeace recently made the outrageous and defamatory charge that my organization is “still on the payroll” of the ExxonMobil Corporation because it received a grant from the company in 2006 (http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/news/exxonsecrets-2007).

Perhaps you allow donations to influence your positions on public policy issues. We do not.

Since you’ve raised the issue of public disclosure of grants in a manner critical of others, we believe you should lead by example. That’s why I’m challenging you to a very high standard for transparency. If Greenpeace will publicly disclose its donations exceeding $50,000, we will do the same.

If $50,000 is too cumbersome for you, we can set the trigger at $100,000. If you think it’s too high, we can go down to $25,000.

Let me be clear on what I mean by transparency:

A complete list of donor names, gift amounts and purposes of all gifts (corporate, foundation and individual) received directly or indirectly and meeting the trigger criteria. Listing donors as “anonymous” is not acceptable as full disclosure.

All donations received by Greenpeace, Inc., the Greenpeace Fund, Inc., Greenpeace International, Greenpeace Vision Fund, Inc. and Greenpeace national offices worldwide. I note that in 2006, the Greenpeace Fund, for which you also work, contributed over $3.6 million to Greenpeace, Inc.– equal to about 23% of the group’s expenditures last year. Such transfers not only help obscure the true source and nature of contributions, but also the amount spent on fundraising, administration, and salaries, artificially raising the percentage of your budget spent on programs. This transfer alone would have raised your program spending by over 6% through smoke and mirrors. Not exactly trying to clear the high bar on public disclosure, are we, John?

All indirect donations. For example, Greenpeace, Inc. and the Greenpeace Fund, Inc. received a total of $343,000 through the Tides Center (an appropriately named institution as its principal function appears to be to launder money to hide the true source of funds).

As you know, information about ExxonMobil’s grants have been publicly available from multiple sources: the corporation’s annual World Giving Report, the ExxonMobil Foundation’s 990, and from disclosures from groups such as ours (for just one example, see http://www.nationalcenter.org/PRExxonMobilRockefellerSnowe1006.html) revealing such funding.

Greenpeace, so far, has not met this standard of transparency.

Please let me know by close of business June 4 whether you accept our challenge. At that time we can discuss specific timelines, triggers, and other details.

This is an opportunity for you to show whether Greenpeace is green…

…or just yellow.

Thank you for your prompt reply.

Sincerely,

David A. Ridenour
Vice President