Green Activists and Democratic Allies Call for More Money in Politics

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UPDATE 2:48 P.M.: A previous version of this article referenced the Natural Resources Defense Council. The group involved is the NRDC Action Fund. The story has been updated to reflect the correction.

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Democrats who claim to revile money in politics are throwing their weight behind a new effort by a pair of leading environmentalist groups to pour special interest money into federal elections.

The Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund and the League of Conservation Voters announced a new effort called LeadingGreen on Monday.

The effort "will steer donations to federal candidates and enlist the help of major donors in lobbying elected officials," the Washington Post reported.

Among the effort’s backers is Sen. Ed Markey (D., Mass.) who was elected last year on a platform that included staunch opposition to money in politics, despite extensive support for Markey among dark money groups.

"The polluters are sparing no expense to defeat supporters of clean energy, climate change, and environmental protection," Markey told the Post. "There’s no way to compete against these polluted dollars without significant help from environmentalists."

LCV president Gene Karpinski said that high-dollar political donors need to pour more money into federal elections, as long as those donors have the correct political views.

"It underscores the fact we need more environmental money in politics, and we need more environmental donors doing advocacy to make sure politicians understand they feel strongly about these issues, and that's what the new alliance is all about," Karpinski said in an interview.

LCV raised and contributed $2 million to candidates during the last election cycle; NRDC Action Fund primarily operated by encouraging its donors to donate directly to candidates or environmental advocacy groups, and it established a political action committee just last year. The new initiative aims to raise and spend $5 million this year, according to officials.

That sum is more modest than what many conservative groups will spend on the election, as well as below the $100 million that billionaire and climate activist Tom Steyer has pledged to mobilize between now and 2016. NRDC Action Fund President Frances Beinecke described the two ventures—both of which will highlight climate change—as "parallel efforts."

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