Billionaire crony corporatist schemes

Financing “green” companies and pressure groups, to get richer off taxpayers and consumers

Guest essay by Paul Driessen

Shady cash from Vladimir Putin’s Russian energy oligarchs and other rich donors is being laundered through Bermuda-based lawyers and middlemen to “green” pressure groups, lobbyists and spinmeisters – to promote “green energy” schemes that bring billions of dollars from government agencies (and thus from us taxpayers and consumers) to a cabal of billionaires and crony companies. At the epicenter are hedge fund millionaire Nathaniel Simons, his wife Laura and their secretive Sea Change Foundation.

“Investors” become even wealthier, as billions of dollars are transferred annually to environmentalists, scientists, politicians, bureaucrats and crony-corporatists in Renewable Energy & Climate Crisis, Inc. The alleged “urgency” of replacing fossil fuels with “eco-friendly renewable energy” (to prevent catastrophic manmade climate change) drives and excuses operations that define or barely skirt “corrupt practices.”

The arrangements are too convoluted to explain in one article. Even the US Senate’s “Billionaires’ Club” report, Environmental Policy Alliance’s “From Russia with Love” study, and articles by investigative journalists like Ron Arnold and Lachlan Markay (here, here and here) barely scratch the surface.

Washington is out of control. The IRS targeting conservative groups, Clinton Foundation and national security scandals, FBI pseudo-investigations and whitewashing, bureaucrats imposing $1.9 trillion in economy-crushing regulations that ruin families and communities – with virtually no perpetrators ever held accountable.

Here we are talking about radically and fundamentally dismantling the energy system that powers the American free enterprise, transportation, communication and healthcare systems … replacing it with expensive, subsidized, unreliable, land-hungry wind, solar and biofuel energy – and using vindictive government power to bankrupt and impoverish disfavored factions, while enriching favored allies.

Imagine the trillions of dollars required for the USA to accept the wind industry’s “vision” of 4,000,000 megawatts of electricity from 500,000 to 1,250,000 mega turbines in our Great Lakes and along our Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf of Mexico coasts. Picture the multi trillions required to achieve 50% renewable energy by 2027 and a “100% carbon-free economy” by 2050. Envision the potential billionaire profits!

As the investigators reveal, the billionaires’ green network transfers millions of dollars from individual, corporate and “charitable foundation” donors … through tax-exempt “educational” nonprofits that do not have to disclose donor names … to activist and pressure groups that work to influence elections, legislation, regulations, legal actions and public perceptions on energy and environmental issues. A lot of money originates with Russian and other foreign interests that want to protect their monopoly revenues.

Many wealthy donors and foundations that bankroll these operations also have venture capital firms that invest in “green” energy companies which benefit from the laws, policies, regulations and lawsuits – and from government contracts, grants, guaranteed loans, subsidies, feed-in tariffs, and mandates for energy systems, ethanol blends or wind and solar electricity. In turn, US money can end up in the coffers of radical Australian groups that block coal exports to India, thereby keeping its people mired in poverty.

Coal billionaire/climate activist Tom Steyer and other club members invest in for-profit prisons where inmates make ultra-low-cost solar panels. Warren Buffett funneled millions through his family foundation to the secretive Tides Foundation to pressure groups campaigning against the Keystone and Sandpiper Pipelines, thereby benefitting his railroad and tank car companies that haul oil. Others support North Dakota pipeline protesters who destroyed equipment, mutilated cattle and harassed local residents.

One of the most clandestine, devious arrangements involves firms owned or controlled by Nathaniel Simons and Laura Baxter-Simons. Tax records reveal that their Sea Change Foundation gives tens of millions a year to the Natural Resources Defense Council, Food and Water Watch, US Climate Action Network, League of Conservation Voters, Center for American Progress, White House counselor John Podesta’s Progressive Policy Institute – and Sierra Club, which received millions from Sea Change for its “Beyond Natural Gas” campaign, to battle drilling, fracking, pipelines and hydrocarbon use.

The Simons regularly give millions to Sea Change. Other donors include the Gates Foundation, eBay’s Omidyar Network Fund, David Rockefeller’s personal foundation and the Walmart Foundation. Sea Change also gets money from hedge funds incorporated in Bermuda and headed by Simons’ father Jim, a major Democratic donor whose net worth is over $12 billion.

But much of Sea Change’s funding comes through Bermuda-based Klein, Ltd., whose sole purpose is to channel money covertly to Sea Change and thence to environmental advocacy and “educational” groups. Klein is a shell company that exists only on paper. Its only officers are employees of Bermuda law firm Wakefield Quin, its address is the same as WQ’s, and its registered business agents work for Wakefield.

A sizable portion of Klein’s funds come from the IPOC Group, an international growth fund owned by Russian minister of telecommunications and Putin friend Leonid Reiman; Spectrum Partners, a Moscow-based energy investment firm with major assets in Russian oil and gas; Rosneft, the Russian-government-owned oil and gas giant that is one of Wakefield’s largest clients; and other Russian companies.

Their motives are easy to discern. US fracking has battered Russia’s income, economy and ruble. One way to reverse this is to support groups that oppose drilling, fracking and pipelines – and support wind, solar and biofuel projects that Simons views as the foundation of a future “low-carbon US economy.”

That’s why Hillary Clinton told German bankers in 2013 that US energy development is “up against” Russian “oligarchs” who are funding “phony environmental groups.” She supports fracking, she claimed, while publicly saying her regulations won’t leave many places where the practice will be tolerated.

Nat Simons also runs venture capital firms Elan Management and its offshoot Prelude Ventures, which invest in “green energy” companies that benefit from policies that his Sea Change operations promote. At least seven companies in Prelude’s portfolio (including prison-labor solar company Suniva) have received bounteous federal funding from the Energy, Defense, Agriculture and Justice Departments, National Science Foundation and other agencies. Many WQ clients have ties to the Russian government.

Klein, Ltd. director and Wakefield Quin senior counsel Nicholas Hoskins is also a director in the IPOC Group and VP of a London-based investment firm whose president is a member of Putin’s inner circle and used to chair the board of Russia-owned oil company Rosneft. He also serves as director of a holding company with extensive shares in an oil company owned by Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev.

WQ senior counsel Roderick Forrest operates Medallion Investments and Meritage Investments, hedge funds owned by Nat Simons. Forrest and Hoskins are also tied closely to Spectrum Partners and Marcuard-Spectrum, Moscow-based firms with significant assets in Russian oil and gas.

All these subterranean networks and connections came to light thanks to tax records and the sources cited earlier in this article. It’s no wonder the Senate report called Sea Change “shadowy” and its operations “a deceitful way to hide the source of millions of dollars … attempting to effect political change.”

On the personal front, Simons commutes to work across San Francisco Bay on the “Elan,” a 54-ft, 1,550-HP, gas-guzzling yacht – and manages his household staff and 6,700-sq-ft home via Elan Household LLC. Ms. Baxter-Simons fired their 9-months-pregnant housekeeper after she requested maternity leave. But their planet-focused ethical star shines bright in environmentalist skies.

On this Halloween eve, it is truly frightening to grasp the extent to which America’s politicians, policies, laws, regulations, energy, economy, jobs and future are controlled by a cabal of stealthy billionaires – who receive billions from state and federal government agencies, and use those riches to become even wealthier, more powerful, and more in control of our lives, livelihoods, living standards and liberties.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org), and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death and other books on the environment.

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31 thoughts on “Billionaire crony corporatist schemes

  1. There are social democrats who want to fight against crony capitalism as they know well that in doing so they are preserving capitalism and keeping it safe from the revolutionaries who want to destroy it for socialism!

  2. How smart are China and India starting to look now?
    It will only be 2 or 3 decades before those two countries surpass the idiocracies of USA, Eurozone and Great Britain.
    And they’ll be laughing along with the Ruskies.

  3. Their motives are easy to discern. US fracking has battered Russia’s income, economy and ruble. One way to reverse this is to support groups that oppose drilling, fracking and pipelines – and support wind, solar and biofuel projects that Simons views as the foundation of a future “low-carbon US economy.

    What has supposedly battered Russian income is the oil price war Saudis under the benevolent eye of Obama’s warmongers have waged for the past years. That has dented the US shale play too as part of a tasty relationship between Riyadh and Washington. The Canadian oil patch has been decimated to the barely hidden pleasure of Alberta Premier Notley and Obama worshiper Trudeau, all carbon trading peddlers and front (wo)men.
    So the “blame Putin” game is wearing thin.
    Best to you Paul,

    Vlad.

  4. Zealots are bad enough. Rent-seeking only makes the situation worse, and one candidate for US President is rather suspected of influence peddling, as well a pandering to the green blob.

  5. Ah! So this time it’s all the fault of the evil Russian billionaires.
    Well, it fits the current demonization of Russia narrative, and it makes a change from all the ranting about Marxists and “liberals”.

    • The point the article is trying to make is that, although these people would still be trying to destroy the world’s economy, they would be voiceless and hence powerless without millions of dollars to buy influence in the media and the various parliaments of the world.

      • “The point the article is trying to make is that . . .”

        Then don’t open the article, and frame the contention, in a flagrant McCarthyesque “The Russians Are Coming!” motif. I’m done with this sort of fear-based click-bait.

  6. Does anyone think that these sorts of ‘games’ are new? The interesting part of these revelations is that they are made at all. We have moved to a stage when it is very difficult to keep secrets secret. The Panama Papers shed a large spotlight on the destination of the Russian billions. Tracing the money, which is really seed money for future profits, has become easy enough that amateurs, self-taught investigators, can perform independent investigations into what is taking place in the world around us. Very revealing.

    The USA, which has had one of the most corrupt forms of administration in history, revels in its unique and aspirational vision of a land dominated by neither kings nor clerics. The fact remains that both royalty and religion remain very popular in the world. Religion, in the broadest sense, can even include a religion of irreligion like big C communism or big G Green. We can’t be too surprised when C and G join hands for a while, each secretly plotting to eliminate the other stooge when ‘victory’ is near. Everyone is busy being ‘clever’.

    Is anyone surprised that money buys elections in the US of A? Seriously? Actual surprise, or relief that it has finally been brought so blatantly into the open that it cannot be ignored?

    The Clinton Foundation does good works, spending 5.6 or 5.7% of its income on humanitarian activities. That is commendable. As to what happens to the other 94.3% I am not sure. That is quite an overhead. Let’s look closer.

    Reading this morning over at michaelsmithnews.com I see that Concerned Citizen has put up a chart showing the linkages between significant people on the Demo side of the aisle and some pretty odd characters in the Middle East. Does the Repub version of that chart exist? How is on it? Definitely the Bush family.

    Italy had its ‘Clean Hands’ investigation that brought down many major mafia figures. The FBI, if they are up to it, should have a ‘Sticky Fingers’ investigation of Wiener’s activities to see who is touching what parts of the democratic process.

    There is a cot behind the Altar of Democracy where the Vestal Virgins have been generating a little cash on the side. Looked at another way, the homefires are still burning but there are a couple of car tires on it and the smoke has become hard to ignore.

    Go Comey.

  7. The Green mafia, always on the take and their useful starry eyed tools. All on the public dime. Imagine if all this climate hustle money went into real conservation projects worldwide like protecting the wildlife, oceans and lands that are being destroyed and killed off by massive out of control poaching/fishing, green madness and overpopulation.
    Now that’s something that most people, all shades and politics could get behind. And everyone rich and poor would benefit.
    Sign me up!

    • I think Gary Johnson said nearly half of the prisoners are in there on some sort of pot charges.
      He must be having trouble getting prison guard support.

  8. “Imagine the trillions of dollars required for the USA to accept the wind industry’s “vision” of 4,000,000 megawatts of electricity from 500,000 to 1,250,000 mega turbines in our Great Lakes and along our Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf of Mexico coasts.”

    Imagine all the wildlife these windmills will kill. Millions of them. Annually.

    It’s time to stop this madness and oppose building any more windmills, nationally and worldwide. Nuclear powerplants can be substituted to accomplish the same goals as windmills, without the drawbacks of windmills.

    Windmills are not the solution. They will only create more problems. And they are not necessary to reduce CO2. The Greens needs to wake up and stop advocating the killing of millions of birds.

    Reasonable people should speak up for the Mother Nature the Greens seem to have so little regard for, when it comes to alternative energy. There are ways to accomplish the goal without sacrificing millions of birds.

    • Re: Lakes Erie & Ontario

      National Resources Canada

      ‘Earthquake Zones In Eastern Canada’

      This an earthquake cluster map of Eastern Canada and a few U.S. states.

      A pilot IWT project is in progress located offshore from Cleveland which is a known earthquake zone.

      http://www.earthquakescanada.nrcan.gc.ca/zones/eastcan-en.php

      This same information is also available from U.S. government sources.

      Also note recorded quake locations around Lakes Erie & Ontario.

      Thought to be part of the St.Lawrence Fault Zone.

  9. Posted: October 30, 2016 at 12:00 am

    The fact remains that both royalty and religion remain very popular in the world.

    Yup, and the “movers n’ shakers” and most all in-control members of said “Royalty and Religious Groups” know damn well that iffen they can keep the lowly citizenry “barefoot, hungry and utterly ignorant (stupid)” then said citizens will “follow them anywhere and do whatever they are told to do”.

  10. Lots of players in a multi dimensional chess game. Sometimes interests align and strange bedfellows wind up sharing the sheets. The late not great Aubrey McClendon financed the Sierra Club war on coal in a short sighted natural gas play. Weird but true and somewhat effective.

    BP one of the world’s premier oil companies helped finance numerous green groups in an unsuccessful attempt to buy protection. We could go on all day with examples of this heaven help the hindmost self dealing of this
    sort. Disorganization in the enemies ranks is probably the chief factor in the growth of the environmental movement. What we need to see is law enforcement brought to bear and justice done.

  11. Yet another muddle headed commentary by Paul Driessen, an author with little credibility.
    Perhaps Mr. Driessen could furnish something more concrete than a bunch of half baked allegations leveled by other people. The Sea Change Foundation 990 report for 2013 shows the donations to the various green groups, but *all* contributions listed are from the Simons: http://990s.foundationcenter.org/990pf_pdf_archive/204/204952986/204952986_201307_990PF.pdf?_ga=1.268369034.501021468.1416875309
    It is pretty sad when the tactics used by Mrs. Clinton are the same as Mr. Driessen – or is that the other way around?
    How much exactly did the Klein funds contribute vs. the $25.5M contributed by various Simons-named organizations in 2013? And vs. the Sea Change funds $18M+ in “capital gain net income”? And vs. the $118M or so in investment equity held?

    • If you don’t like what Mr. Driessen says, then do some searching yourself. Networks and money trails indeed!

      • Apparently you don’t read – since I did exactly that and challenged Mr. Driessen to show his work.
        I also find it interesting to see one NGO think tanker attacking other NGO think tanks:
        http://www.thefullwiki.org/Paul_Driessen_%28lobbyist%29
        Driessen is currently a senior policy advisor for the Congress of Racial Equality and a senior fellow with the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise and the Atlas Economic Research Foundation.
        CFACT shows donations from Donor’s Trust, which in turn has a board member from the AEI as well as other well known libertarian groups and receives cash from Koch, among others.
        So what we have here is a lobbyist on one side telling lobbyists from the other side that their butts are dirty.

      • Of course Ticket, you heard the answer to the question “Who watches the watchers?” The watchers watch themselves. n this seemingly endless game of dirty pool, it ends up being the players themselves who do the most damage.

  12. The tectonic plates of world finance don’t shift of their own accord, do they? Nice post Paul, regardless of the coming election results, we need more of this clarification. Don’t stop.

  13. Once upon a time, on this very blog, I made a comment with regards to the worlds problems and how most of them can be traced back to the legal trade- Lawyers!

    I’ll go as step further and add some others to that list. The big 3 (as I call it)

    1.Lawyers
    2.Accountants
    3.Real Estate Agents

    No one comes together like these scumbags. Its strange really, nobody really knows how useless these 3 are.
    Don’t take this info for granted, because I’ve had enough experience and info thrown in my direction that would make your knees buckle. Agenda 21 anyone……

  14. Splendid writing by Paul (again).

    This stuff is jaw-dropping, utterly shameful and is criminal to the power of Mann-squared.

    Paul,
    Would you kindly send your excellent report to Mr. Trump and suggest he puts a stop to it as soon as he possibly can. Thank you.

    Regards,
    WL

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