Actor Leonardo DiCaprio reportedly used his non-profit to award funds to dark money groups, which then funneled the money to a law firm that files nuisance climate-related lawsuits.
Communications between philanthropist Dan Emmett and University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) climate professor Ann Carlson revealed that they worked with law firm Sher Edling to raise money to sue oil companies over alleged climate change deception, according to Fox News Digital. Emmett told Carlson in 2018 that she could tell prospective donors that the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation had become “serious supporters” of Sher Edling’s ongoing litigation, Fox continued.
The lawsuits filed by Sher Edling were said to be supported by the Collective Action Fund for Accountability, Resilience, and Adaptation at the time, Fox News reported noted. This fund was managed by the Resources Legacy Fund (RLF), a dark money group, according to Fox News.
Emmett and Carlson reportedly discussed how Sher Edling’s director of strategic client relationships, Chuck Savitt, had sought support from the philanthropist, noting that they had received such financial support from DiCaprio’s foundation CEO, Terry Tamminen, between 2016 and 2019, the outlet continued.
“Chuck Savitt who is heading this new organization behind the lawsuits has been seeking our support,” Emmett reportedly wrote in an email to Carlson on July 22, 2017. “Terry Tamminen in his new role with the DiCaprio Foundation has been a key supporter.”
The emails were sent roughly two months prior to the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation’s announcement of $20 million in grants for various climate and conservation efforts, Fox News reported. The announcement was subsequently deleted, but archives shared by Fox News show that the RLF received funding “to support precedent-setting legal actions to hold major corporations in the fossil fuel industry liable.”
Sher Edling received more than $5.2 million from RLF between 2017 and 2020, Fox News continued. The firm predominantly filed suits on behalf of cities and states, including California, Delaware, Minnesota, Rhode Island, New York City, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Baltimore, and Honolulu against major oil companies.
“Wanted to let you know that we filed the first three lawsuits supported by the Collective Action Fund on Monday,” Savitt told Emmett in one of the emails reviewed by Fox News.