Fighting Cape Wind $1 million at a time
One donor puts up half of money
The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound put out a press release last month suggesting that its strong fundraising was “another sign of growing opposition to Cape Wind.” The Alliance pointed out that it had raised nearly $2.1 million in 2012 and 82 percent of the donations came from small donors in amounts less than $500.
The group released its 2012 tax return this month, and it tells a very different story.
While it may technically be true that 82 percent of the Alliance’s donations came from small donors, most of the money came from a few big donors. The tax return indicates one unnamed donor, presumably Bill Koch, provided $1 million, nearly half of the Alliance’s fundraising total. The top six donors provided two-thirds of the organization’s funds.
Audra Parker, executive director of the Alliance, said she was not permitted by her donors to release their names. But it’s a good bet the big donor is Koch, a Floridian who summers in Osterville on the Cape. Koch runs Oxbow Corp., a major energy conglomerate, and is worth $4 billion. In an interview with CommonWealth earlier this year, he said he had donated more than $5 million to the organization as part of a strategy to keep delaying Cape Wind in the courts and in the court of public opinion until the proposed wind farm’s owner, Jim Gordon, calls it quits.
Loss of the tax credit and the investor would be big blows, but not necessarily fatal ones. The contracts that Gordon signed with the two leading electric utilities in Massachusetts allow him to raise the price he charges for power if he fails to secure the tax credit.
The Cape Wind project is facing a handful of legal challenges in Washington that have raised uncertainty about the wind farm and made it difficult to bring in investors. The Alliance, which is spearheading the legal challenges, spent $1.1 million on legal fees in 2012, according to its tax return.The tax return shows no payments to the town of Barnstable, even though the Alliance pays the town’s legal bills for fighting Cape Wind. In the past, Parker has said the payments to Barnstable are just lumped in with the organization’s other legal fees. Of the $1.1 million the Alliance spent on legal fees in 2012, all but $161,000 went to its own two law firms. Presumably, all or some portion of the remaining $161,000 the organization paid out in legal fees went to the town of Barnstable to pay for its legal fight against Cape Wind.
The Alliance’s tax return indicates the organization ended the year with a deficit of nearly $662,000, which is less than the previous year’s deficit of $914,000.