A Florida environmental group founded by a hedge fund billionaire who contributed tens of thousands of dollars to Joe Biden's presidential campaign is now lobbying the Biden administration to commit $2.9 billion toward its cause.
The Everglades Foundation, founded by billionaire investor Paul Tudor Jones, launched a campaign this week pressuring the Biden administration to commit $725 million in each of the next four years toward restoring the Florida national park, according to a Thursday report by E&E News. The lofty demand comes just months after Jones forked over $50,000 to the Biden Victory Fund, the joint fundraising committee supporting the Biden campaign and the Democratic Party.
"It's Washington's turn to help, with $725 million a year in matching dollars for Everglades restoration," the foundation says in a national ad that began airing this week. "President Biden, let's finish the job."
The Everglades Foundation is well positioned for success with the Biden administration—Shannon Estenoz, the foundation's former chief operating officer and vice president of policy, is now at Biden's Interior Department overseeing policy for national parks. The foundation's CEO Eric Eikenberg said he was "thrilled" to see her join the administration.
Tyler Cherry, a spokesman for the department who previously worked for the Biden campaign, declined to comment on Estenoz's appointment and whether it was related to the political contributions. Neither the White House nor the Everglades Foundation responded to a request for comment on the appointment.
Jones himself has been the target of criticism—he was ostracized during the height of the #MeToo movement in 2017 for his close relationship with and support for Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.
Jones, who was on the board at the Weinstein Company, sent Weinstein an email just after allegations of sexual assault were revealed plotting a way forward for his longtime friend. "I love you," Jones wrote in the October 2017 email, published by the New York Times. "Focus on the future as America loves a great comeback story…. The good news is, this will go away sooner than you think and it will be forgotten!"
Jones has since said he was unaware of Weinstein's conduct and has apologized for the email. "What I know now is that Harvey was a friend I believed too long and defended too long," he said.
While Biden managed to avoid criticism for the previously unreported $50,000 contribution from Jones, other Democrats this cycle weren't as lucky. On the same day Jones cut his check to Biden in September, Arizona Democrat Mark Kelly was pushed to issue a statement excusing a 2017 paid speech he gave to the Everglades Foundation due to its association with Jones.
"Mark does not know this individual and of course disagrees with his comments," Kelly's campaign told the Arizona Republic.
Jones went on CNBC in the final days of the election to argue that a Biden victory would bring a "big boost to the economy." He did not disclose his financial support for Biden's campaign.
Attempts to contact Jones through the Everglades Foundation were not successful.
The Everglades Foundation plans to promote its push for further White House funding on major programs in the coming weeks, including during NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday, according to the E&E News report.
Eikenberg told the outlet he views the campaign as an "opportunity to get quick wins on the board" in the new administration.