Profile: League of Conservation Voters

League of Conservation Voters
League of Conservation Voters

A national group promoting pro-environment policy and candidates, the League of Conservation Voters was founded in 1969 by famed environmentalist David Brower, who also once led the Sierra Club.

The League, which has many state chapters, tracks the voting record of members of Congress and issues a scorecard based on environmental policy votes. It boasts of having helped defeat 23 out of 37 candidates it deemed anti-environment since 1996.

In 2004, the League's 527 organization funded "door-to-door and phone canvassing activities that expressly advocated the election of Senator Kerry and the defeat of President Bush," thereby violating election laws, according to the Federal Election Commission. The League was fined $180,000 and did not use its 527 for federal elections since then.

This year, environmental groups including the League of Conservation Voters, Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund, Sierra Club, and Clean Water Action announced a joint effort to elect Democrats to the Senate for New Mexico, Colorado and New Hampshire. The League also helped one of its former board members, Donna Edwards, defeat incumbent Rep. Albert Wynn (D-MD) in a primary last February.

The League of Conservation Voters is a 501(c)(4) organization that claims special status as a "qualified nonprofit corporation," which now allows it to expressly advocate for the defeat of a candidate as long as it doesn't take union or corporate money. LCV Education Fund is a 501(c)(3) and LCV Action Fund is a political action committee.

Funders: In 2008, League of Conservation Voters' non-federal 527 received $275,000 from Alida Messinger; $200,000 from Lynde B. Uihlein; $150,000 from John R. Hunting and $150,000 from John A. Harris IV. In 2007, it received $218,000 from John R. Hunting and $100,000 from Alida Messinger.

In 2008, the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund received $300,000 from the Turner Foundation in Georgia and $100,000 from the Bauman Foundation. In 2006, it received $300,000 from the Wilburforce Foundation; $300,000 from the Turner Foundation; $200,000 from the Wyss Foundation; and $100,000 from the Surdna Foundation.

Leadership: Gene Karpinski, Bill Roberts, Rodger Schlickeisen, John H. Adams, Rampa R. Hormel, Everett (Brownie) Carson, John Podesta, Donald K. Ross, John A. (Jay) Harris, Lana Pollack, Marcia Aronoff, Wade Greene, Scott Nathan, Larry Rockefeller, Theodore Roosevelt IV, Peggy Shepard, Donna F. Edwards, Susan Smartt, Paul Austin, Brent Blackwelder, Carol Browner, Marcia Bystryn, Sherwood Boehlert, Carrie Clark, George T. Frampton, Lisa Guthrie, John Hunting, William H. Meadows III, Jorge Mursuli, Jonathan Poisner, Lynde B. Uihlein, Tony Massaro, Barbara Gonzalez-McIntosh, Patrick Collins, Terri Shuck, Ed Zuckerman. Read more about these leaders in The Secret Money Project's Who's Who Directory of Key Leaders of Independent Groups.

Will Evans is a reporter for the Center for Investigative Reporting, NPR's partner for the Secret Money Project.

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