Cape Wind’s big money opponents like to change up the names of their front groups and the names of their spokespeople pretty regularly. By refusing to admit funding sources, they can usually sucker a few news outlets into taking the front seriously, at least for a little while.
The latest calls itself the “New England Ratepayers Association” is run by a New Hampshire resident and former “Freedomworks” corporate front group staffer named Marc Brown and recently flooded the Cape with an expensive mailing operation targeting Cape Wind. As Jack Sullivan reports for Commonwealth Magazine, Brown refuses to tell anyone where he’s getting his money or marching orders:
A new group trying to rally opposition to Cape Wind is being run by the owner of an ice cream shop located on a quiet back road in Kingston, N.H., several towns over from the Massachusetts border. [...]
A spokesman for Cape Wind said he suspects Brown’s group is merely a front for organized business interests that have continually tried to obstruct the project for more than a decade. “New Hampshire ratepayers aren’t buying any Cape Wind power,” said Mark Rodgers. “I think it’s just the latest example of a growing trend, which is secretive corporate interests hiding behind shells and front men and trying to have an outsized influence on public policy.”
Brown declined to disclose his sources of funding for the New England Ratepayers Association or reveal what salary he is being paid for running the group. Brown said he has asked the IRS to give the association tax exempt status as a social welfare group, which would allow the organization to raise funds for political advocacy without revealing the names of its donors.
Is it really this hard to find good front group help these days? By now, everyone knows the “Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound” is really the Bill Koch Employees to Protect Bill Koch’s Estate View. The “Massachusetts Competitive Partnership” is really Wealthy Cape Estate Owners Who Care About Their View, Not Your Kids. Now their top anti-Cape Wind spokesman is … a New Hampshire scoop shop owner?
So who’s funding Brown? It could be the usual big money – heavy industrial polluters and wealthy Cape landowners – but there’s another possibility, too. He’s written several opinion pieces shilling for new electric transmission lines and new natural gas pipelines. Is Brown being funded by out-of-state energy providers hoping Massachusetts won’t take a big step towards a cleaner, more self-sufficient future with Cape Wind? Brown won’t say and no reporters have successfully dug into his funding, so these are only guesses.
It’s a remarkable contrast to Cape Wind’s supporters. Cape Wind’s conservation, public health and labor allies are so transparent they put all their names on one website.