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The Environmental Law and Policy Center of the Midwest (ELCP), a left-leaning lobbying and litigating organization, fêted the regulatory victories of colleagues in the Obama administration with its “2016 Dinner and Celebration” at the Chicago Hilton on April 29, 2016. The group hosted two influential Democrat headliners, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois). After the speakers left the dais and the dinner party had adjourned for chit-chat around the open bar, the celebration’s point had become crystal clear: “Regulatory statutes are the cornerstone of the progressive agenda.”
There were plenty of corporate listeners with survival at stake: The colorful logo-festooned event announcement in Crain’s Chicago Business weekly newspaper listed some of the host’s funders – nearly 40 wind and solar energy companies, a bank, a private foundation, a giant medical supply firm, three “clean energy” trade associations, and a railroad heavily invested in hauling coal.
ELPC’s top funder shown on Crain’s announcement is Baxter, a controversial conglomerate including Baxter Healthcare Corporation (BHC), a subsidiary of Deerfield, Illinois-based Baxter International, Inc. BHC was an early joiner in the “green and greedy” movement to lessen environmental impacts of manufacturing in order to save the company money – and expert at sucking up taxpayer money.
Baxter has so far pocketed $119.4 million in federal contracts, according to the government’s USASpending database. Baxter International has been under fire since 1990 by the U.S. Justice Department for a catalog of trade and Medicare kickback violations, being placed on the “Arab blacklist,” joining a boycott of Israel to enter Arab markets with Nestle and other questionable practices, according to a Bloomberg report titled, The Case Against Baxter International.
Crain’s gave equal billing to BMO Harris Bank – which may be a funder because ELPC’s treasurer and secretary, Cameron S. Avery, is the former chairman of Harris Bank Winnetka. Avery is now General Counsel of pharmaceutical firm PathoGenesis Corporation. Crain’s identified itself as a second-rank funder without further comment.
Among the third rank of funders, Crain’s listed Daniel Levin, real estate developer of more than 20,000 rental and condominium units in 80 locations across six states with more than $2 billion in assets under management. Crain’s did not identify Levin, who is also vice chairman of the board of ELPC.
The cash cows among the subsidy set included SolarReserve ($2,357,159 in Energy Department grants); Kyocera ($714,440 in federal contracts); E-ON (European-based electricity supplier and natural gas producer worth $133 billion dollars); Hecate Energy (large all-renewables firm; partner David Wilhelm was Democratic National Committee Chairman from 1993 to 1994); GE Transportation (Chicago-based General Electric Division building railroad locomotives, marine engines, mining equipment and, of interest, wind turbines); Union Pacific Railroad (America’s largest freight hauling railroad, has a coal hauling division serving coal-fired power plants nationwide).
How much did they give?
ELPC is a “public charity” under section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Tax Code – organizations that are usually supported substantially by foundation grants. However, ELPC’s IRS Form 990 report for 2014 listed $6.5 million in contributions and grants, yet the Foundation Search databank shows only $1.2 million of that amount came from foundation grants. It appears that corporations and individuals provided $5.2 million, or 80 percent of ELPC’s total contributions for 2014. Why would corporations support their radical agenda? Fear? Greed? True belief?
The lawyer elite that runs ELPC (it commonly drops the “Midwest” from its registered name) gives corporations incentive to support its radical agenda by waging “lawfare” against natural resource development, manufacturing and industrial infrastructure. ELPC’s insider power to expand regulation is formidable but unadvertised. Its smiling goal “to improve environmental quality and protect our natural heritage” cloaks a double edged “join or die” warning, one to firms that need to keep Washington off of their backs, the other to firms that need to keep their hands in the taxpayers’ pockets for more government contracts and grants.
ELPC’s founder, incorporator, president & assistant treasurer, Howard A. Learner, was not only a senior energy and environmental adviser to the 2008 Obama for President Campaign, but is also now vice chair of the National Advisory Council on Environmental Policy and Technology for U.S. Environmental Protection Agency head Gina McCarthy. Learner is noted for blog posts such as Why Peabody Energy, the world’s largest coal company, just went bankrupt, seemingly to gloat over the collapse of many coal companies he helped Obama’s EPA destroy.
Other board members have comparable legal and partisan qualifications to front for a radical agenda while wielding regulatory power over vulnerable funders, particularly co-founder Robert L Graham, Chair of ELPC’s Nominating Committee, who was cited in the lawyer-ranking publication, Chambers USA, as “a master of relating to the regulatory authorities.”
In sum, the truth about ELPC provokes the old question, “With friends like these … “. Corporate funders need to wake up to the other half of that question before they read their own gloating obituary by one of their friends.
Learn more about radical green groups and their supporters at LeftExposed.org.