The Conservative Energy Network (CEN) may call itself a “grassroots coalition of deeply conservative families,” but new reporting reveals that nearly 100 percent of its funding comes from very liberal foundations.
The Funding Sources
In 2018, the Michigan-based group reported donations totaling $3.1 million. The IRS does not require 501(c)(3) nonprofits such as CEN to disclose their donors, but we tracked down almost $3 million of that total, all of which came from left-wing foundations:
- Energy Foundation: $1,753,900
- MacArthur Foundation: $1,000,000
- Turner Foundation: $100,000
- Rockefeller Brothers Fund: $100,000
- Sophiagrace Foundation: $30,000
- Violet World: $5,000
Shockingly, over half of CEN’s funding in 2018 came from the Energy Foundation, a major pass-through group formed by the Rockefeller Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, and Pew Charitable Trusts to bundle sums from left-wing donors in the guise of philanthropy.
The $1 million grant from the MacArthur Foundation—which also funds the Environmental Defense Fund and Union of Concerned Scientists, to name a few—means that roughly 88 percent of CEN’s funding in 2018 came from two of the largest grantmakers on the environmental Left.
CEN’s Place in the Eco-Right
CEN is vague about its goals beyond the usual “clean energy” platitudes, but it has commissioned a number of polls testing favorability with Republicans, which admit that carbon taxes are a campaign-killer with voters in both parties: “Solutions that are labeled or perceived to be a ‘tax’ are strongly opposed—especially by Republicans.”
CEN is part of the eco-Right, a group of right-leaning groups that support the Left’s position on catastrophic manmade global warming, often with huge grants from liberal mega-donors. Eco-Right activists universally espouse conservative principles—limited government, free markets, and individual responsibility—but in practice support destructive, crony-capitalist policies including carbon taxes and endless federal subsidies of renewables.
Many on the eco-Right have been duped into believing they can compromise with environmental leftists on climate change in order to “save” the planet, failing to realize that environmentalism is—and always has been—the Left’s bid to destroy America as we know it. There’s no meeting in the middle with an enemy bent on your destruction.
With few exceptions, the eco-Right is heavily funded by left-wing mega-donors, including George Soros and the Hewlett Foundation. With that in mind, we also traced $950,000 of the $1.1 million CEN reported in 2017 donations to a handful of liberal funders:
- Energy Foundation: $460,766
- McKinney Family Foundation: $200,000
- McKnight Foundation: $200,000
- Rockefeller Brothers Fund: $89,000
The Indiana-based McKinney Family Foundation is the personal philanthropy of Robert H. McKinney, a former Indiana University board of trustees president who served as Federal Home Loan Bank Board under President Jimmy Carter. (The Indiana University McKinney School of Law is named for him; Vice President Mike Pence is an alumnus.)
The foundation describes its goal as “creating renewable energy jobs and meaningful policy changes to ensure the transition to a sustainable energy economy.” In 2018, it gave $500,000 to the Energy Foundation, its third-largest grant ever paid. It is a donor to the Sierra Club and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and a member of the Environmental Grantmakers Association, an affinity group for environmentalist donors overwhelmingly composed of left-wing foundations.
CEN’s Leftist Donor Base
CEN may call itself conservative, yet its donors are anything but. As Daily Signal reporter Kevin Mooney wrote of the group last July:
Take a hard look at what these foundations advocate and it becomes clear they are devoted to undermining cheap, affordable energy sources while expanding the size and influence of government.
Why would an organization that markets itself as conservative receive the backing of so many liberal foundations?
Here’s one reason: Conservatives aren’t fooled by the eco-Right. They know global warming is a cover for leftist policies—however it’s branded—so there’s no conservative donor base to support these eco-cons.