Kimberly P. Yow

Kimberly P. Yow

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Dark money group wired millions to law firm suing Big Oil with Dem states

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FIRST ON FOX: A major left-wing dark money nonprofit organization earmarked millions of dollars last year to a private law firm that’s spearheading climate litigation against the oil industry on behalf of Democrat-led cities and states, according to newly published tax filings.

New Venture Fund — which is managed by Arabella Advisors, a firm that oversees a liberal billion-dollar dark money network — wired grants worth a total of $2.5 million to the California-based Sher Edling in 2022 alone, per the tax filings reviewed by Fox News Digital. Across the country, Sher Edling has taken up novel climate litigation against major oil and gas producers, arguing the industry has misled the public about the threat posed by global warming.

“It smacks of a political operation,” Tom Pyle, the president of the Institute for Energy Research, told Fox News Digital in an interview. “You have this whole self-dealing scheme where progressive donors are hiding behind nonprofits and taking advantage of that from a tax perspective, then funding Democrat law firms, and also, Democrat politicians and elected officials are participating as well.”

“Across the board, it’s rotten,” Pyle continued. “This is further evidence that the green movement is no longer about protecting the environment. It’s about being a political, financial and organizational arm of the Democratic Party.”

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Since 2016, the year Sher Edling was founded, the firm has pursued aggressive climate-related litigation on behalf of Delaware, Minnesota, Rhode Island, New Jersey, New York City, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Baltimore, Honolulu and several local governments across the country. The first-of-their-kind lawsuits argue that oil companies are financially responsible for global warming and, therefore, weather events that impact people and communities.

On its website, the firm says its climate practice seeks to hold oil companies like Chevron, ExxonMobil and Shell accountable for their alleged “deception” about climate change. It says that the fossil fuel industry has known for decades that burning fossil fuels would cause global warming, thus making the industry responsible for mass human devastation caused by such human-induced climate change.

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While the entirety of Sher Edling’s funding structure is unknown, the firm has for years raised millions of dollars from nonprofits whose individual donors are obscured from public view, meaning anonymous individuals and groups are supporting its climate litigation. The arrangement, though, has attracted scrutiny from Senate Commerce Committee ranking member Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky.

“As I’ve warned, it’s clear radical, left-wing dark money groups are footing the bill for Sher Edling’s climate crusade with the goal of bankrupting American energy employers,” Cruz told Fox News Digital in a statement. “New Venture Fund and Sher Edling’s litigious gamble is nothing but an attempt at achieving a goal lacking majority support in Congress: the eradication of fossil fuels.”

“It’s no surprise that a dark money group is funding activist litigation that seeks to bankrupt American energy companies,” Comer added in a separate statement. “The House Oversight Committee raised concerns about this exact issue in our letter to Sher Edling that was sent in partnership with Ranking Member Cruz and the Senate Commerce Committee.”

The Oversight Committee chairman noted the panel recently held a hearing on Sept. 13 about left-wing litigation funding and said it will “continue to follow the facts wherever they may lead.”

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Shortly after that hearing, Cruz and Comer fired off their latest probe into Sher Edling’s finances, sparking a tense back-and-forth between the two sides, letters shared with Fox News Digital showed.

“Setting aside the namecalling, donations to Sher Edling do not finance any particular lawsuit; rather, such donations support only the firm’s general operations in this area,” counsel for Sher Edling wrote to Cruz and Comer in a letter on Oct. 6.

According to tax filings, between 2017 and 2020, the Collective Action Fund for Accountability, Resilience, and Adaptation (CAF), a secretive group fiscally sponsored by New Venture Fund, wired more than $5.2 million to Sher Edling. Then, in 2021 alone, CAF funneled another $3 million to the firm. CAF switched its fiscal sponsorship to New Venture Fund from a smaller dark money group in 2021.

Including the funding revealed this week in the 2022 tax forms, CAF has sent $10.7 million to Sher Edling since the small firm began suing oil companies.

Though CAF’s, and by extension Sher Edling’s, individual donors are unknown, a previous Fox News Digital review showed past funding has flowed through the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

And Fox News Digital previously reported that Ann Carlson — a senior Biden administration official serving as acting administrator of the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — secretly coordinated to raise money for CAF and Sher Edling. She further helped recruit at least one state, Hawaii, to hire Sher Edling.

Led by Cruz, Republicans succesfully killed Carlson’s nomination to permanently lead NHTSA, in part, due to her connection to Sher Edling.

Sher Edling and New Venture Fund didn’t respond to requests for comment.

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