New Report – Government for Rent: Governors Edition

This week media, activists, major environmental donors, and government officials will descend on San Francisco for the Global Climate Action Summit hosted by California Gov. Jerry Brown and co-chaired by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, United Nations representatives, and others. According to a new report by Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) Senior Fellow Chris Horner, the summit is part of a larger scheme, in which governors’ offices are coordinating with activists and donors, who in turn are underwriting a massive, off-the-books campaign to provide staff and other resources to elected officials.

In the report, “Government for Rent: How Special Interests Finance Governors to Pursue Their Climate Policy Agenda,” Horner uses public documents to demonstrate how donors are funneling tens of millions of dollars to privately fund staff—public relations professionals, consultants, and what aides call “necessary support functions”—for advocacy work at governors’ disposal. The documents, obtained through open records requests, show non-profit groups acting as well-compensated pass-through entities for donors to fund climate change work, directly hiring staff and providing other assets, in governors’ offices in California, New York, and Washington.

“Public records reveal a sprawling dark money enterprise to underwrite governors’ political advocacy for implementing the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement and the climate change agenda more broadly, because as some staffers said, ‘it can’t always be us staff’,” said Horner. “This unprecedented scheme of activist donors bankrolling governors committed to advancing their climate agenda is very concerning. It raises serious questions about the use of public offices to serve private interests, transparency and the reporting of these dollars, compliance with gift laws applying to elected officials, and restrictions on private financing of official activities.”

Read the report here.