- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 2, 2003

Environmental groups overwhelmingly backed Democratic candidates in the last election cycle, contributing more than 90 percent of their political contributions to them, financial reports show.

“That proves what everyone has known all along: These organizations are much more concerned with partisan politics than with the environment,” said Christine Iverson, spokesman for the Republican National Committee.

Green groups donated $2,894,409 to political campaigns during the 2001-02 election cycle, according to Federal Election Commission reports and numbers compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. Only 8 percent — $246,593 — went to Republicans while $2,647,816 was donated to Democrats through independent expenditures, political action committees and individual donations.

The top contributor, the League of Conservation Voters, spent $1,449,951 in independent expenditures targeting $1,313,041 for Democrats and $136,910 for Republicans.

The LCV’S political action committee gave $125,015 to individual candidates; $38,228 to 19 House Republicans and $86,787 to 66 Democrats running for the House and Senate.

Betsy Loyless, vice president for policy and lobbying for LCV, said her organization “does not take its cues” from either party.

“We make the determination and the decisions, and we base those on the best interest of environmental protection based on a number of factors,” she said.

The league calls itself the “national, nonpartisan political voice of the environmental community.”

Sean Conway disagrees.

Mr. Conway is the chief of staff to Sen. Wayne Allard, a Colorado Republican who was targeted in the last election by the LCV, which spent more than $400,000 trying to defeat Mr. Allard.

“I think there is a feeling these groups are not nonpartisan. They do work hand in glove with the Democratic National Committee and senatorial and congressional committees to target Republicans seats they feel they can win,” Mr. Conway said.

Miss Loyless said the LCV targets races based on many factors, including their annual scorecard on environmental votes and the vulnerability of an incumbent.

In only one instance did they give the full $10,000 allowed by law. It went to Mr. Allard’s opponent, Democrat Tom Strickland.

“I don’t think you’re going to find the LCV giving contributions to members who consistently vote against environmental positions, and we don’t play both sides against the fence,” Miss Loyless said.

Mr. Allard won re-election by 5 percentage points.

The Sierra Club spent $265,772 on independent expenditures, none of which went to Republicans. However, the environmental group targeted Democrat Rep. John D. Dingell of Michigan for defeat, spending $45,631 against him in a race against another Democrat.

In the U.S. Senate races, the Sierra Club gave $114,449 to 23 Democratic candidates and nothing to Republicans. However, a dozen Republican House candidates received $17,828 and 178 Democrats received $383,377.

The Sierra Club’s political liaison was unavailable to answer questions, said spokesman Allen Mattison.

Other environmental groups that were top contributors include Global Green USA, 21st Century PAC, Friends of the Earth, Natural Resources Defense Council, Washington Forest Law Center, Wild PAC, Environmental Defense Fund, Nature Conservancy, Trust for Public Land, Siskiyou Project and Save America’s Forests.

The LCV has started running ads in Los Angeles to coincide with a fund-raiser there for Mr. Bush, accusing him of dramatically rolling back environmental protections.

“These organizations use incomplete data and emotional manipulation to fund-raise for political agendas, not environmental causes,” said Rep. Richard W. Pombo, California Republican and chairman of the House Resources Committee.

Miss Iverson at the Republican Committee said it’s clear the only politicians targeted are Republicans.

“Unfortunately, the Sierra Club and the LCV are more interested in protecting Democratic presidential candidates than they are in protecting the environment,” she said.

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