Megaloads of Money

By Beacon Staff

By now, everyone is getting pretty sick and tired of the megaloads of hypocrisy spilled in the battle over the so-called “megaloads” that the oil folks are trying to haul from the Port of Lewiston in Idaho to the Kearl oil sands patch in Alberta.

Because National Wildlife Federation (NWF) is leading the lawsuit to stop the modules, NWF affiliate Montana Wildlife Federation (MWF) has been feeling a little heat. Called on the guilt-by-association carpet by the evil capitalist Montana Contractors Association, in early May MWF issued a “We’re Not Them” press release, at least the second time MWF has done so: In 2008, NWF won a lawsuit against the relaxation of federal rules on haying and grazing on 24 million acres of privately-owned, good-huntin’ Conservation Reserve Program lands, which of course annoyed plenty of Montana landowners.

Is MWF NWF’s kept girl or not? If not, whose girl might MWF really be?

As a federal 501(c)3 tax-exempt nonprofit, MWF’s IRS reports (Form 990) are public. Their most-recent 990s are posted to Guidestar’s website (registration is free).

In 2009, MWF’s total revenue was $486,000, with $115,000 coming from member dues, $26,000 from fundraiser events after expenses, and $338,000 from “contributions, gifts, grants.” Expenses totaled $462,000, including $187,000 in salaries and $201,000 in “other expenses.” The other $60,000 or so went to rent, consultants, and printing costs.

Where did the gifts and grants come from? That’s the fun part – charities rarely willingly reveal their donors – yay for Google.

MWF has shared in grant funding such as $904,000 granted in 2005 to NWF by the climate-cultist Doris Duke Foundation for “implementing Wildlife Action Plans” in five states, including Montana.

Furthermore, in 2008 according to National’s Form 990s, MWF got $29,000 from NWF for “conservation and education grants,” and in 2009, $39,215 from NWF for “conservation advocacy.”

Therefore, while NWF doesn’t “own” MWF, MWF seems perfectly OK with swallowing its pride and NWF’s money.

Who might really own MWF? Way down deep in the Web sewer, I found a clue: In 2003, MWF got $236,000 from the Wyss Foundation. A backcheck of MWF’s record shows that single grant was fully 55 percent of MWF’s $425,000 grant haul for the year, more money than the $170,000 MWF members paid.

Never heard of the Wyss Foundation? It’s the tax-exempt, eco-slush-fund of Swiss citizen and billionaire Hansjoerg Wyss. He owns 40 percent of Synthes, which makes joint implants (your new knee) and other medical devices.

Wyss also owns a pretty good hunk of the environmental “movement” – and its agenda. In 2009 alone, he doled out over $13 million to Greens – a megaload of money “dedicated to conserving land in the American West” – with tax breaks on every penny.

There’s also the Hansjoerg Wyss Foundation, renamed HJW Foundation in 2009. HJW has $98 million in assets, after Wyss stripped off $58.3 million to start the Wyss Peace Foundation. What does HJW support? The Center for American Progress ($400,000), Center for Budget and Policy Priorities ($600,000), ACLU ($1,000,000) and the Tides Foundation ($1,000,000). No political agenda there, no sir … these are “public charities!”

Does Wyss matter? To MWF he sure does. MWF has collected $95,000 from Wyss in 2009, again in 2008, and $102,000 in 2007, roughly 20 percent of its income.

What about other Montana environmental groups? Wyss recipients in Montana in 2009 included Greater Yellowstone Coalition ($152,800); Montana Conservation Voters Education Fund ($50,000 for a “public charity”); Montana Wilderness Association ($50,000); and Western Organization of Resource Councils “Education Project” ($110,000). Besides the state-group money, Wyss gave $3.8 million to the Nature Conservancy – and this spring, gave $35 million in order to bail TNC out from under its atrocious Montana Legacy Project “deal” with Plum Creek.

Clearly, Wyss’s megaloads of money have an enormous, even distortive, influence on both the strength of the Green political machine and its agenda – and there’s more on the way. On April 27, it was announced that Johnson and Johnson was buying Synthes for $21.3 billion. If the deal flies, the 75-year old Wyss will become Switzerland’s second-richest man – with gigaloads of money.

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