Who's Behind The Right's Latest Anti-Environment Video?

Fox News and other conservative media have promoted a video that suggests environmental regulations will cause “America to fail.” But the video, created by a conservative group with a history of ethical problems, makes many misleading claims including denying global warming.

Video Created By Conservative Group With History Of Campaign Finance Violations

Free Market America Is A Joint Project Of Americans For Limited Government And Citizens For Lower Taxes. According to the website behind the video, Free Market America is a “project of Americans for Limited Government and Citizens For Lower Taxes And A Stronger Economy.” The narrator of the video, Ryan Houck, headed Citizens for Lower Taxes and a Stronger Economy. [FreeMarketAmerica.org, accessed 4/26/12] [The Hill, 4/25/12]

Americans For Limited Government Launched Video To Counter “The Radical Environmentalist Agenda.” Bill Wilson, the President of Americans for Limited Government, wrote a column for Investor's Business Daily in advance of Earth Day comparing carbon regulations to bombing Pearl Harbor and claiming that “people will die” if carbon emissions are restricted too strictly. Wilson also falsely claimed that “Climategate” “revealed that global temperature data were manipulated and exaggerated by climatologists” and called for the EPA's endangerment finding for carbon to be rescinded. The column ended by promoting the website where the “If I wanted America to fail” video was launched: “Americans for Limited Government is launching FreeMarketAmerica.org on the 42nd anniversary of Earth Day to combat this and other incursions by the radical environmentalist agenda.” [Investor's Business Daily, 4/19/12]

CPI: ALG Chairman “Skirted” Campaign Finance Limits. The Center for Public Integrity reported:

In South Carolina, corporations and individuals can donate only $1,000 to local House and Senate races or $3,500 to statewide seats. But multi-millionaire Howard Rich skirted the limits by funneling contributions through separate LLCs. He also made the contributions during a “blackout period” -- two weeks right before the election when candidates can hold off making donations public until after the election. [Center for Public Integrity, 3/19/12]

ALG Chairman Creates Several Front Groups To Hide His Involvement. PBS reported:

But here's where it gets really interesting: if you look at what's happening in other states, a clear money trail leads right back to Howard Rich and his groups. In Oklahoma, Americans for limited government gave a hundred thousand dollars to a group called “Oklahomans in action” who were pushing two initiatives -- one a spending-cap, the other targeting eminent domain. Same thing in Missouri -- Howard Rich's groups gave over two million dollars to a group called “Missourians in charge” -- they too supported a spending cap and eminent domain initiative. And in Arizona -- a group backing an eminent domain initiative -- got over a million dollars, traceable straight to Howard Rich. In these three states, Rich's groups are responsible for almost 99% of the reported contributions. All told, there are at least 11 states across the country where Howard Rich seems to be involved. In each case, there's always a local group out front, but in most cases, when you follow the money, its Rich's groups who pay the bills. [PBS, 9/22/06] [Missoulian State Bureau, 11/17/10]

ALG Was Forced Out Of Illinois For Failing To File Financial Statements. The Center for Public Integrity reported:

Americans for Limited Government, the Chicago-based tax-exempt organization that bankrolled a series of controversial ballot initiatives this year, has apparently been forced to move out of Illinois because it could not comply with the state's charity laws, the Center for Public Integrity has learned.


In all, Americans for Limited Government spent at least $8 million in 2006 pushing takings initiatives and other ballot measures. The organization has repeatedly refused to disclose the sources of its funds.

Although charitable organizations that operate in Illinois are required to furnish state regulators with annual financial statements audited by a certified public accountant, Americans for Limited Government never did so, the Center has learned.


The Center previously reported that both organizations [Americans for Limited Government and its affiliate the Americans for Limited Government Foundation] ran afoul of a different state law last year by continuing to operate in Illinois even after Secretary of State Jesse White had revoked their authority to do business there.

Financial statements filed with Illinois authorities say that Americans for Limited Government Foundation shares “common management” with more than a half-dozen of Rich's organizations, including ALG; Legislative Education Action Drive (LEAD); Parents In Charge Foundation (formerly LEAD Foundation); U.S. Term Limits; U.S. Term Limits Foundation; Social Security Choice.org (SSC.org), and SSC.org Foundation.

Although Rich's two new organizations, the Sam Adams Alliance and the Sam Adams Foundation, solicit contributions on their shared Internet site (which was set up by Americans for Limited Government), neither has registered with the Illinois Charitable Trust Bureau, as is required by Illinois law. [Center for Public Integrity, 12/18/06]

ALG Affiliate Faced Fine For Delayed Disclosure Of Donors. Anchorage Daily News reported:

A group that poured tens of thousands of dollars into a ballot measure that aims to be against government corruption faces penalties topping $300,000 for failing to publicly report its contributions and donors for months.

If the fine proposed for Alaskans for Open Government holds, it would be the largest penalty for a campaign money violation in Alaska.


So where does Alaskans for Open Government get its money? From two groups, according to its recent disclosures to APOC: Americans for Limited Government and the Legislative Education Action Drive, both at the same Fairfax, Va., address. Most of the money came from Americans for Limited Government. [Anchorage Daily News, 8/17/10]

Ballot Measure Promoted By ALG Was Pulled For “Massive Fraud.” From an op-ed by Harold Andersen in The Omaha World-Herald:

Howard Rich's efforts to leave his imprint on the Nebraska Constitution is only part of the Howard Rich story. His agenda becomes all the more alarming the more one learns about the efforts of Rich and his associates across the nation to promote their ultra-conservative philosophy in at least 10 states this year alone.

In five of the states, efforts financed by Rich and his associates through a front named Americans for Limited Government have been kept off the ballot by a variety of court rulings -- for example, the finding of massive fraud by signature gatherers in Montana and the illegal use of out-of-state petition circulators in Oklahoma.

Nebraska is one of the three states (Oregon and Maine are the others) in which Rich and some local supporters have succeeded in buying their way onto the November ballot through use of paid petition circulators. [Omaha World-Herald, 10/1/06, via Nexis]

ALG Compared Americorps To Hitler Youth. The New York Times reported:

[American for Limited Government President Bill Wilson] sat out the 2008 presidential election -- while he strongly opposed Mr. Obama, he loathed the campaign finance law of which Senator John McCain was a co-author.

Now, however, with Mr. Obama in the White House, Mr. Wilson has a fully satisfying target. ''We face,'' he wrote shortly after Mr. Obama took office, ''what I personally believe is the greatest threat ever to individual freedom and democratic rule.''

Since then, Americans for Limited Government has slammed the president, his programs, his aides, his allies and his nominees without restraint. After getting lessons from his Web-savvy son and daughter in 2007, Mr. Wilson has worked to build the group's presence on the Internet.

Today, the group says, its daily barrage of e-mail messages go to more than 90,000 conservative advocates and appear on its main site, GetLiberty.org. Its NetRightNation.com site allows handy access to thousands of local conservative blogs, sorted by state and issue. Together, they feed a ferociously negative view of the administration to talk radio hosts, Web pundits, Congressional aides and small-town newspaper columnists.

Americans for Limited Government does not specialize in nuance. A recent e-mail message labeled Mr. Obama ''the biggest liar of all,'' and a piece on Mr. Obama's enthusiasm for the national volunteer service agency AmeriCorps suggested a parallel with Hitler Youth. [New York Times, 9/25/09]

ALG Allegedly Fabricated An Email To Smear NBC Employee. Politico reported:

NBC News president Steve Capus fired back at Americans for Limited Government Friday, after the conservative group published an email allegedly from NBC producer Jane Stone to its director of media outreach Alex Rosenwald, with one line: “Bite me Jew Boy.”

“I'm still in shock, and outraged that this reckless organization would go out with such a defamatory, irresponsible statement,” Capus told POLITICO. “We have done a complete email analysis, all of our IT, all of our records.”

Here's what both sides agree on: Stone responded Thursday to a mass email from ALG.

But Stone's response email--provided to POLITICO--did not have any anti-Semitic comment. In fact, it had just one line: “Take me off this list!”

“Somebody, on the other end, I'm assuming, took the return stamp from the email and then put in this hateful message,” Capus said. “I don't know who did it. It's outrageous to suspect that somebody from NBC News would do it.”

Capus said he contacted the group and asked them to rescind the press release that accompanied publication of the email. He said that ALG would not agree, and the instead responded with a “politically-fueled rant against NBC, and a completely irresponsible diatribe.” [Politico, 9/25/09]

In 2010, ALG Spent Nearly One Million Dollars Against Democrats. Through October 2010, Americans for Limited Government spent a total of $988,170 on independent campaigning, 100% of which benefitted Republican candidates. Its largest expenditure was $131,233 it spent against Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), chair of the Environment and Public Works committee and the Select Committee on Ethics, in the week before the election. [The Washington Post, accessed 4/26/12]

Conservative Media Promoted Misleading Video

Fox's Bolling: Video “Sums Up What I've Been Saying For Years.” Fox News' The Five opened its show on Monday with the “If I wanted America to fail” video. Comparing the video to “the conservative manifesto,” Eric Bolling said it “sums up what I've been saying for years.” The panel then discussed the video for eleven minutes and closed with Kimberly Guilfoyle promoting FreeMarketAmerica.org. [Fox News, The Five, 4/23/12]

  • Limbaugh And Other Conservative Media Promoted Misleading Video. Rush Limbaugh said the video was “brilliant” and Jim Hoft declared “you must watch this video.” [Hot Air, 4/22/12][Michelle Malkin, 4/23/12] [Eric Bolling Twitter Feed, 4/23/12] [Gateway Pundit, 4/24/12] [Drudge Report Twitter Feed, 4/25/12] [Sarah Palin's Twitter Feed, 4/25/12] [Fox News, America Live, 4/25/12] [Premiere Radio Network, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 4/25/12]

Video Claims Listening To Scientists Will Cause “America To Fail”

Video Claims Schools Used To Teach Children That Factories And Cars “Will Cause A New Ice Age.” The video's narrator, Ryan Houck, said: “If I wanted America to fail, I'd use their schools to teach one generation of Americans that their factories and their cars will cause a new ice age. And I'd muster a straight face so I could teach the next generation that they're causing global warming. When it's cold out, I'd call it climate change instead.” [YouTube video uploaded by FreeMarketAmerica, 4/20/12]

REALITY: There Was No Consensus Among Climate Scientists On Global Cooling In The 1970s. A September 2008 article in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, a peer-reviewed publication, investigated the “pervasive myth” that “there was a consensus among climate scientists of the 1970s that either global cooling or a full-fledged ice age was imminent.” The article found:

A review of the climate science literature from 1965 to 1979 shows this myth to be false. The myth's basis lies in a selective misreading of the texts both by some members of the media at the time and by some observers today. In fact, emphasis on greenhouse warming dominated the scientific literature even then. [Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, September 2008]

Surveys Show Vast Majority Of Climate Scientists Agree Humans Are Changing The Climate. Recent surveys of scientists have found that 84 percent of members of the American Meteorological Society and the American Geophysical Union say they “personally believe human-induced warming is occurring” and that over 97% of scientists who specialize in climate science said human activity is contributing to rising global temperatures. Several scientific bodies have also issued statements recognizing the strong body of evidence supporting anthropogenic climate change, including the National Academy of Sciences. [Media Matters, 7/7/11]

Video Distorts Obama's Energy Record

Video Calls Environmental Regulations An “Economic Suicide Pact.” While showing video of an oil rig, the video's narrator, Houck, said: “If I wanted America to fail, I would transform the environmental agenda from a document of conservation into an economic suicide pact. I would concede entire industries to our economic rivals by imposing regulations that cost trillions.” [YouTube video uploaded by FreeMarketAmerica, 4/20/12]

REALITY: Oil And Gas Production Has Risen Significantly Since Obama Took Office. The Council on Foreign Relations' Michael Levi wrote:

After falling every year from 1991 through 2008, U.S. oil production has climbed for three years in a row. U.S. oil imports started to drop in 2005 under President George W. Bush, but Obama's policies haven't stopped the trend. Last March, Obama announced a target of cutting oil imports by a third by 2020; less than a year later, the United States is already more than halfway there. Natural gas production is also surging. The United States hit rock bottom in 2006, at which point the shale gas revolution began to re-energize the sector. That boom has continued since Obama took office. It's tough, in other words, to square claims that Obama is destroying American oil and gas with the record production numbers that the industry is posting year after year.


Last year, Obama had his energy secretary appoint a group of industry experts and environmental authorities to advise him on shale. The team, which included prominent shale enthusiasts like Daniel Yergin and John Deutch, produced a string of recommendations that were widely seen as constructive rather than adversarial. Fuel Fix, a news service run by the Houston Chronicle, described them as an "olive branch to industry." [Council on Foreign Relations, 3/1/12]

EPA Has Relaxed, Delayed, Or Canceled Several Rules. The EPA has relaxed, delayed or canceled at least nine rules. In many of these cases, the agency opted to adjust standards after extensive consultation with the regulated industry. The energy industry recently praised EPA's standards for fracking. [Media Matters, 10/27/11] [Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil And Gas Association, 4/19/12]

Experts Say Regulations Have A “Negligible” Impact On Overall Employment Rates. ProPublica reported:

But is the claim that regulation kills jobs true?

We asked experts, and most told us that while there is relatively little scholarship on the issue, the evidence so far is that the overall effect on jobs is minimal. Regulations do destroy some jobs, but they also create others. Mostly, they just shift jobs within the economy.

“The effects on jobs are negligible. They're not job-creating or job-destroying on average,” said Richard Morgenstern, who served in the EPA from the Reagan to Clinton years and is now at Resources for the Future, a nonpartisan think tank. [ProPublica, 9/21/11]

Video Promotes Debunked “Drill, Baby, Drill” Solution For Energy Prices

Video Suggests More Domestic Drilling Would Lower Gas Prices. The video's narrator, Houck, states: “I would ridicule as flat-earthers, those who urge them to lower energy costs by increasing supply. And when the evangelists of common sense try to remind people about the laws of supply and demand, I would enlist a sympathetic media to drown them out.” [YouTube video uploaded by FreeMarketAmerica, 4/20/12]

REALITY: Experts Across Ideological Spectrum Agree Drilling Won't Lower Gas Prices. At least 20 economists and energy experts from across the ideological spectrum have explained that increasing U.S. oil production will not prevent gas price spikes because oil is priced on a global market, which is influenced by much larger factors like growing demand from Asia and geopolitical conflicts. Ken Green of the conservative American Enterprise Institute said that “If the U.S. produced more of its own oil, it would probably reduce imports, but it's not likely that it would reduce prices.” And Peter Van Doren and Jerry Taylor of the Cato Institute said that increasing domestic production would result in “more profit for domestic crude producers rather than significantly lower gasoline prices for Americans (not that there's anything wrong with that).” [Media Matters, 3/22/12]

Survey Of Economists Confirms That U.S. Policy Doesn't Dictate Gasoline Prices. In a survey of economists by the Chicago Booth School of Business, not one disagreed with the statement that “Changes in U.S. gasoline prices over the past 10 years have predominantly been due to market factors rather than U.S. federal economic or energy policies.” [Chicago Booth School of Business, 3/19/11]

Statistical Analysis Shows No Correlation Between Gasoline Prices And U.S. Oil Production. An Associated Press analysis of 36 years of data “shows no statistical correlation between how much oil comes out of U.S. wells and the price at the pump,” underscoring the fact that any impact on price from changes in U.S. oil production is swamped by the more dominant factors influencing the oil market. [Associated Press, 3/21/12]