Reading the Congressional campaign website for former San Diego City Council member Carl DeMaio (R), it sure sounds like he’s an environmentalist. On a page entirely focused on his green views, he touts his support for “strong environmental protection initiatives,” “energy resources through the development of wind, solar, biomass, biofuels and other alternative energy sources,” and “reducing the ‘carbon footprint’ of businesses and homes.”
But while he has been running for office as a climate hawk, he has also been receiving tens of thousands of dollars to consult for his former employers, the climate-denying Reason Foundation.
In announcing his candidacy for Congress last May, DeMaio termed himself a “new generation Republican.” As he did in his unsuccessful 2012 mayoral campaign, he has highlighted his commitment to renewable and sustainable energy, urging the federal government to “speed up the development of these resources by leading the way in research and development – much of which is conducted here in San Diego,” and promising to “fight to cut the red tape that too often undermines these alternative energy sources from reaching critical mass in our economy.” He also brags about his 2009 Clean Energy PACE proposal to “allow residents and businesses to more easily finance renewable energy and energy conservation projects.”
But while his campaign biography includes his term on the city council and his creation of “two successful businesses before the age of thirty,” it does not mention his extensive work for the anti-government Reason Foundation. From 1999 to 2003, DeMaio worked at the foundation, as a senior fellow and director of government redesign. Reason has received more than $2.8 million from the Koch Family Foundations and David Koch is a member of the organization’s board of trustees. Reason also received six-figure funding from Exxon Mobil. While a Reason Foundation spokesman attempted to minimize his role with the organization in 2012 (telling the Voice of San Diego that he had only received about $15,000 for his five-year tenure there), his personal financial disclosure filing reveals that he received an additional $37,500 for consulting for Reason between January 2012 and August 2013.
DeMaio’s campaign has already benefited from the Kochs as well. Their tax-exempt Americans for Prosperity has already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on television ads attacking DeMaio’s 2014 opponent, first-term Rep. Scott Peters (D).
Like most other Koch-connected entities, the Reason Foundation has taken a decidedly less green position than DeMaio now articulates. In the “climate change” section of the Reason website, stories include a November article warning that “Forecasts of cyclonic doom should be consumed with a heaped tablespoon of sea salt [and] policies should be framed accordingly,” one called “No More Energy Subsidies: The fear mongering and cronyism of climate change politics,” and another with the title “How the IPCC Reports Mislead the Public, Exaggerate the Negative Impacts of Climate Change and Ignore the Benefits of Economic Growth.” In addition to publishing a great deal of climate-change skepticism, Reason promotes “free market environmentalism” (rather than regulation) published a 2011 piece warning that the “Unseen Consequences of ‘Green Jobs’” would include harm to the U.S. economy from clean energy.
Perhaps more telling that DeMaio’s words or those of his former employers is his history. According to the League of Conservation Voters San Diego, DeMaio had a “terrible record on environmental issues” during his tenure on the city council and earned ratings of “F,” “F,” “D+,” and “F” on the group’s environmental quality report cards.