A political advocacy group started by Iraq war veterans received nearly $4 million from environmental groups around the same time it began running political ads attacking members of Congress who did not support a disputed climate bill.
VoteVets Action Fund, a nonprofit organization that is not required by law to reveal its donors, received $670,000 from the Sierra Club and another $500,000 from the NRDC Action Fund, according to a report authored by the Center for Responsive Politics. The largest donations—around $3.78 million—were made by former Vice President Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate.
"Until 2010, the organization had not been involved in environmental causes and instead focused on opposing the troop surge in Iraq under President George W. Bush, supporting a new G.I. bill to fund education for military veterans and similar issues," according to the report, titled, "The Shadowy Money Trail."
The report adds:
The Alliance for Climate Protection gave money to VoteVets in three separate grants, the dates of which are not listed on the IRS forms. The reason for the contributions is, however: "To support the purchase of airtime for an educational television advertisement about the national security benefits and benefits to American soldiers of clean energy," reads one description. The other two are also for airtime purchases, but the ads are explained as being "about the benefits to the American people of more clean American-made power" and "about the costs to American soldier's of America's dependence on foreign oil."
The grants reflect one of the key strategies for supporters of climate legislation, which was to link U.S. dependence on imported oil with the Iraq War.
The ads sponsored by VoteVets that mentioned the climate bill ran in early 2010, urging passage of a "clean energy climate plan" to cut the nation's need for foreign oil. The Senate Democratic leadership pulled the plug on the climate bill in July of that year, and it has not been a legislative priority since then.
Earlier this month, the group launched a $2 million ad campaign aimed at promoting a "clean energy economy."