American Conservative Union Foundation (ACUF) and CPAC
The American Conservative Union Foundation (ACUF) is the 501c3 nonprofit arm of the American Conservative Union (ACU), a 501c4 nonprofit that coordinates and rallies conservative politicians, activists, pundits and consultants.
The ACU is best known for hosting the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, in Washington, DC.
The CEO of the American Conservative Union is Matthew Schlapp, who sits on the boards of both the ACU and ACUF. Schlapp was previously a lobbyist for Koch Industries as a partner at Cove Strategies. Schlapp is from Wichita, Kansas and grew up knowing the Koch family, though the relationship has allegedly been strained. Schlapp worked for five years as Chief of Staff for Kansas' former Representative, Todd Tiahrt, among the top recipients of Koch Industries funding during his time in Congress.
The ACU board includes Fred L. Smith, Jr, founder of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), and Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR). Both Norquist and Smith have played prominent roles in attacking climate and clean energy policies at the state and national levels, at organizations financed by Koch Industries and its affiliated nonprofit foundations.
The ACUF board includes Amy Noon Frederick, president of the 60 Plus Association, who is also on the ACU board. 60 Plus is heavily financed by nodes of the Koch network and has engaged senior citizens in rejecting the scientific basis of climate change.
Niger Innis of the Congress for Racial Equality (CORE) is on the board of ACUF. CORE was a prominent civil rights organization that later digressed into corporate consulting, most notably for ExxonMobil, at the behest of Roy Innis--Niger's father. Niger Innis has advocated on behalf of coal and gas electric utility companies, promoting fear over increased poverty in Black communities if solar panels are installed.
Joe Bast of The Heartland Institute is a former member of the ACU board, according to comments he made at a 2014 speech.
ANTI-CLIMATE LOBBY at cpac events
CPAC has heavily promoted unscientific viewpoints on climate change and numerous other environmental issues that imply a need for government regulation over polluting industries. Rather than hosting actively-publishing scientists who represent the 97% to 99% majority view of climate change experts, CPAC hosts industry-funded lobbyists and think tank personnel who have routinely dismissed the findings of scientists.
CPAC hosted two panels moderated by Joe Bast of The Heartland Institute in 2016, according to People for the American Way (PFAW).
In a keynote speech reported by the New Republic, former Texas Governor Rick Perry insinuated that carbon emissions are not "real" by touting his efforts to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions from coal plants. Perry claimed he "decreased our nitrogen oxide levels, which by the way is real. It’s a real emission."
A smaller breakout session led by Texas Congressman Bill Flores, also reported by the New Republic, demonized President Barack Obama's attempts to reduce carbon emissions as a ploy on behalf of former hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer.
CPAC hosted a panel titled "What's the Deal with Global Warming?" featuring several people who have made careers denying climate science and blocking climate policy. Panelists included:
- Joseph Bast of The Heartland Institute,
- Steve Milloy of JunkScience.com, at the time a lobbyist for Murray Energy Corporation
- Marc Morano of the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT)
- Marlo Lewis of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI)
- George Landrith of Frontiers of Freedom
As republished by People for the American Way (PFAW), panelist Marlo Lewis referred to state clean energy incentives as "Stalin-era five year plan," a "Soviet-style" plan. Steve Milloy claimed that climate change is a global conspiracy fabricated for "expanding government power over every aspect of our lives," including limiting what color cars consumers are allowed to drive. Marc Morano was consistent with his inflammatory style, referring to science as "modern witchcraft."
Mother Jones reported that Walter Cunningham made a presentation, using discredited arguments, accusing climate scientists of failing to measure climate trends. Cunningham is a former astronaut and longtime climate change denier affiliated with The Heartland Institute.
An informal video survey by Mike Stark, using the simple prompt, "climate change," indicated the extent to which many young conservatives at CPAC either don't understand or outright deny the 97% to 99% consensus among scientists that global warming is primarily caused by human use of fossil fuels. Debunked, longstanding talking points reflect what industry-funded think tanks have advertised since 1998: "Al Gore..." ,"There are scientists on both sides," "it's cold outside," and "climate has always changed."