Green Watch

The Global Warming Guys—and “Dark Money”—Behind “Science Moms”


Global warming is real—professional activists say so. Just don’t look at the “dark money” behind the curtain.

Science Moms is one of the Left’s many pressure groups known for dumping lots of science-y words into ads meant to grift suburban women into voting for Democrats. You might know them for the ads on streaming services and YouTube bearing the same message of doom-and-gloom fanaticism: “Climate change (aka global warming) is real, and our kids’ future is at risk,” while “real climate science is not up for debate.” The only thing left unsettled, we’re informed, is how many people global warming will kill.

The clear message is that mothers must elect politicians who support the Left’s extreme climate agenda—or else. It’s dirty, deceitful politics at its worst, and there’s much more going on behind the curtain than the group lets on.

Science Moms, which is supposedly run entirely by women, is really a front for the Potential Energy Coalition, an activist group founded by two men: John Marshall and Daniel Schrag.

Marshall’s background is in brand design and advertising, not climate science. Schrag—a professor of geology and environmental science at Harvard—supports the abolition of coal and total electrification of all vehicles in the United States. He also served on President Obama’s (heavily politicized) science advisory council from 2009–2017.

A Sea of Hidden Cash

Potential Energy Coalition is itself closely tied—and possibly run by—the Windward Fund, one of the nonprofits in Arabella Advisors’ $1.7 billion “dark money” empire. Arabella groups specialize in “popping up” new advocacy groups that look like independent nonprofits but are in fact nothing more than websites run from Arabella’s posh headquarters in Washington, DC. It’s a way for ultra-wealthy foundations on the Left to quietly fund politics without the scrutiny of publicly dirtying their hands.

Their exact relationship is unclear. In 2019 Windward Fund reported paying the group $1 million for “consulting services,” the details of which are unknown.

Source: Windward Fund, IRS Form 990, 2020.

That same year, however, the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation paid Windward Fund $1.5 million “for the Potential Energy Coalition project,” and Windward received another $75,000 “to support the Potential Energy Coalition” from the McKnight Foundation. Both are regular donors to the Arabella network and liberal political causes. And in 2021, the KR Foundation—which makes grants to address “the root causes of climate change” and shut down “misinformation”—gave Windward Fund $822,456 for the “Potential Energy Coalition pilot phase.”

Yet Potential Energy Coalition reported revenues of just $100,100 in 2018 and less than $50,000 in 2019, the last year that it filed a Form 990 disclosure with the IRS. Where did the rest of the money go?

Flexibly Opaque

In all likelihood, Potential Energy Coalition was subsumed into Windward Fund in 2019—taking all measure of accountability and transparency with it. Job listings misleadingly present the coalition as “a small, flexible nonprofit” yet note it’s a project of the decidedly not-so-small Windward Fund (2020 revenues: $158 million).

Although the coalition’s privacy policy calls the group a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, its address is a multi-million-dollar private home in the tony Boston suburb of Newton, Massachusetts (median household income: $151,068).

Potential Energy Coalition couldn’t be reached for comment on its affiliation with Windward Fund or questions about how its staff and leadership are compensated.

As ever with the Left, politics trumps transparency.

Hayden Ludwig

Hayden Ludwig is a Senior Investigative Researcher at Capital Research Center. He is also a columnist at the Washington Free Beacon and writes regularly for the American Conservative. Ludwig is…
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