(Washington, D.C.) – A new story in the Washington Post is highlighting right-wing activist Leonard Leo’s close ties to the anti-ESG “watchdog” Consumers’ Research. The long-dormant group was recently revived with funding from Leo-tied DonorsTrust, and has since been engaged in an aggressive campaign targeting corporations for making climate-friendly investments.
Leo, “a good friend and adviser to Consumers’ Research,” said it was time for corporations to “pay a price for their standing up for woke special interest.”
After former President Donald Trump rolled back climate pledges and commitments, many private sector firms committed to pro-climate practices including emissions reduction. Big financial institutions including Vanguard, BlackRock, and State Street moved to modestly reduce emissions in their portfolios by reorienting investments to take climate into account. But even these lukewarm efforts to deal with climate change conflict with Leo’s allies and financial interests in the fossil fuel industry. In fact, Consumer’s Research is a client of Leo’s for-profit consulting firm CRC Advisors, which also represents the fossil fuel giant Chevron.
“Blocking climate action is at the heart of this highly coordinated anti-ESG effort,” said Kyle Herrig, President of Accountable.US. “Leo is using his network of nonprofits to shill for the oil and gas industry.”
The anti-ESG campaign was funded by millions of dollars from donors with connections to Leo. According to the Washington Post, “Nearly $6 million [of Consumers’ Research funding] came from DonorsTrust.” DonorsTrust received $41 million from the Leo-run organization Marble Trust Freedom in 2020. In fact, Consumers’ Research launched the campaign just two months after Marble Freedom Trust came into a $1.6 billion windfall from right-wing billionaire Barre Seid.
Accountable.US recently launched Monitoring Influence to arm Americans with information about Leo, Seid, and the constellation of right-wing groups working to block climate action and undermine our democracy.