So where is all the money coming from?
In one of the worst non-profit fundraising environments in decades, how is that the so-called “Friends of Science” (FoS) who only months ago seemed to be begging for donations to keep the doors open are suddenly rolling out a national radio campaign and flashy new website likely worth more than a quarter of a million dollars?
Informed sources tell us that the FoS nation-wide radio “blitz” would cost on the order of $60,000 per week. It also seems they recently revamped their once bare bones website to a Cadillac version at a ballpark cost of around $30,000 or more.
The source of the massive infusion of mystery money remains unknown but rest assured, Desmog Blog will not rest until we get to the bottom of this.
It is also strange that an organization that is spending so much cash on paid media advertising, seems so reluctant to discuss their point of view, or supporters with the actual reporters.
We have had numerous reports of media outlets trying unsuccessfully to have FoS fess up on their curious funding windfall, or even answer the phone.
The other big-ticket item on the recent FoS media blitz has been to bankroll a national speaking tour of Christopher Walter Monckton, 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley – a front-line spokesperson of the denier industry. For the record, “Lord” Monckton is neither a member of the House of Lords, or a scientist.
I had an opportunity to attend his hilariously inaccurate presentation at the Fraser Institute last month and documented some of many glaring inconsistencies in his talk.
That said, the public impact of all this highly irresponsible messaging is undeniable. Why? Because if it wasn’t working, the capable and well funded interests bankrolling such tactics might be less inclined to pay for it.
As detailed in the recent book, Climate Cover Up by DeSmog founder James Hoggan, the fossil fuel-funded PR campaign to confuse the public on climate change now dwarfs anything that Big Tobacco rolled out to muddy public debate on the well-know links between cigarettes and cancer.
While Mr. Hogan is not a scientist, his understanding of the PR business comes from more than thirty years of working in industry. The polling, focus groups and paid ads that typically comprise such a sophisticated Astroturf campaign all cost big money. So where might FoS have gotten theirs?
FoS were originally outed as a fossil fuel front group in 2006 by Desmog Blog. However, they managed to conceal oil industry funding for years through creative accounting funneled through the University of Calgary.
An internal university audit revealed highly questionable practices that allowed oily donors to not only cover their tracks, but also pocket a charitable tax receipt for shoveling money at the FoS, which is obviously not a charity.
While no criminal charges were laid, another investigation was launched by Elections Canada into whether FoS violated the Elections Act by skirting restrictions on third party political advertising in the 2006 federal election.
There seems a stinking link as well between FoS and the oil-friendly federal Conservative Party of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. A political insider with close ties to Harper’s Conservatives was revealed in 2008 to be acting as a both spokesperson for the Conservative Party and the FoS - at the same time.
While their dodgy funding scam through University of Calgary has since unraveled, the question remains: is the FoS taking oil money again? We pledge to you that we will keep digging until we unearth the truth.
And if anyone out there has some confidential information to share, we are all ears…