Group Leo DiCaprio funneled grants through to fund climate lawsuits moved to largest US dark money network
A shadowy group that Leonardo DiCaprio and several major progressive nonprofits have funneled cash to, and which has financed climate lawsuits, quietly moved to America’s largest liberal dark money network, grants show.
The Hollywood actor pushed cash to the Collective Action Fund for Accountability, Resilience and Adaptation, a fund that at the time of DiCaprio’s 2017 donation was managed by the Resources Legacy Fund (RLF), Fox News Digital previously reported. The Collective Action Fund, in turn, sent money to the law firm behind various climate-nuisance lawsuits across the country.
The Collective Action Fund, a secretive group that does not maintain a website, has since shifted its fiscal sponsorship to the New Venture Fund, a nonprofit incubator at a billion-dollar dark money network managed by Arabella Advisors consulting firm, Fox News Digital has discovered.
RLF spokesperson Mark Kleinman confirmed in an email to Fox News Digital that fiscal sponsorship of the fund has been moved to the New Venture Fund. A New Venture Fund spokesperson also confirmed the switch.
“New Venture Fund is an independent 501(c)(3) organization supporting a wide range of nonpartisan projects working on issues related to the climate crisis,” the New Venture Fund spokesperson told Fox News Digital.
“As a fiscal sponsor, NVF provides operational and administrative support, including compliance, financial, back office, legal, and HR operations so advocates can focus on their mission,” the spokesperson continued. “We are proud to support Collective Action Fund’s important work.”
The fund ultimately moved from a fiscal sponsor, the RLF, that collected a relatively meager $40 million in 2020, compared to New Venture Fund, which reported $965 million in anonymous donations that same year and has deep connections to big-dollar Democratic Party donors. Some of the nation’s most prominent left-wing donors use nonprofits in the Arabella Advisors-managed network as a conduit to quietly fund various causes and initiatives.
Both Kleinman and the New Venture Fund spokesperson didn’t say when the switch was initiated, and no public announcement was made, but the fund appears to have shifted over to New Venture Fund in 2020, according to a Fox News Digital review of liberal foundation grants.
For example, the MacArthur Foundation sent $3 million to the Collective Action Fund at the RLF in 2017, its tax forms show. In 2020, it sent two more grants to the group totaling $4 million, with one grant reporting the fund at the RLF and the other at the New Venture Fund.
Furthermore, in 2021, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation reported $150,000 in grants to the group and wrote that the Collective Action Fund was a project of the New Venture Fund.
The switch from RLF places the funding apparatus supporting major climate lawsuits across the country firmly in the hands of the nation’s largest dark money network. The lawsuits have been applauded by environmentalists but condemned by fossil fuel companies as a wasteful use of taxpayer dollars.
The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund and other left-wing groups have described their contributions to the Collective Action Fund as an effort to support “precedent-setting lawsuits to hold major corporations accountable for costs associated with the effects on climate of their pollutants.”
The fund appears to primarily fund California-based law firm Sher Edling’s litigation efforts on behalf of state and local governments. Between 2017 and 2020, the RLF wired more than $5.2 million to Sher Edling via the Collective Action Fund, according to tax filings.
“From 2017 to 2020, Sher Edling received grants from RLF to pursue charitable activities to hold fossil fuel companies accountable for the accuracy of information they had disseminated to consumers and the public about the role their products played in causing climate change,” Kleinman, RLF’s spokesperson, previously told Fox News Digital.
“RLF receives support from many funding entities, and its board of directors and staff make all decisions as to where the funding goes,” he added at the time.
Sher Edling — founded in 2017 to file “high-impact, high-value environmental cases” against oil companies on behalf of states, cities, public agencies and businesses — has taken up cases representing Delaware, Minnesota, Rhode Island, New York City, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Baltimore, Honolulu and several other local governments across the country.
The firm filed its latest lawsuit this week against ExxonMobil and Chevron on behalf of New Jersey. The legal challenges have alleged that Big Oil corporations and industry groups have deceived the public about the harms of climate change.
“Based on their own research, these companies understood decades ago that their products were causing climate change and would have devastating environmental impacts down the road,” New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin said in a statement Tuesday.
“They went to great lengths to hide the truth and mislead the people of New Jersey, and the world,” he added. “In short, these companies put their profits ahead of our safety.”
The attorney general’s announcement failed to mention that Sher Edling would represent the state in court, but noted that “other states have brought similar legal claims against the fossil-fuel industry.”