Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
Part one of the DeSmogBlog investigation of FrackNation - a film made in response to Gasland 2 – honed in on the past track records and funding streams of co-directors Phelim McAller and Ann McElhinney.
We revealed that Donors Trust/Donors Capital - the “dark money ATM of the right” – partially funded their first two films, Mine Your Own Business and Not Evil, Just Wrong.
We also revealed that Not Evil, a climate change denial documentary, was utilized by a partner of Americans for Prosperity (AFP) to push the Balanced Education for Everyone (BEE) campaign.
That campaign calls for a “balanced” scientific teaching of the climate change “controversy” and parallels ones pushed for via an American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) model bill, by the Discovery Institute, and by the Heartland Institute.
Yet, what about FrackNation? Who bankrolled it and are the screenings and is the tour really a grassroots endeavor?
It might seem that way based on its marketing, but as Jean de La Fontaine once said, “Beware, so long as you live, of judging men by their outward appearance.”
Grassroots or Astroturf? Follow the Email List
Interested in where FrackNation and its film-making team are getting their funding from, I signed up for its email list. In so doing, I learned that Market Aces LLC runs it.
“From the start, Market Aces had a vision to offer low-cost website development solutions to small businesses and a niche market within the political and non-profit sector – but only those who are dedicated to protecting the American Dream and freedom,” its website reads.
According to LI’s website, it “teaches conservative Americans how to influence policy through direct participation, activism, and leadership.” Its website also explains that “since 1979, [it] has trained more than 119,000 conservative activists, leaders, and students.”
Playing by API’s Employee Advocacy Playbook?
Beyond getting email list building help from one of the key “feeder” nodes in the right-wing network, it’s also questionable how many of the funders of FrackNation were of the grassroots variety. As the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette explained,
[T]he roster of “executive producers” who have donated at least $1 includes scores of energy industry associates. The filmmakers said Thursday they plan to return any donations given by “senior” workers in the industry, which they define as executives.
Among those who donated money to the KickStarter campaign: ”the director of an Ohio-based oil and gas outreach program and the head of external affairs at Cabot Oil and Gas, the company that’s fought accusations of water contamination in Dimock, Pa., for the past several years,” according to the Post-Gazette.
Within four weeks of the Kickstarter fundraising campaign’s launch, FrackNation had already raised over $150,000, raising over $22,000 in the first two days of fundraising.
Perhaps FrackNation is playing by the American Petroleum Institute‘s employee advocates’ “corporate citizen” playbook.
In a presentation given at an industry PR conference attended by DeSmogBlog in Houston, TX titled, “Educating Employees On Key Issues To Encourage Brand Management Energy Nation: Empowering Employee Advocates,” API’s Director of External Mobilization Tara Anderson explained how – in essence – to create an armada of fracking advocates from within the employee base of oil and gas corporations.
“Employees are the best brand ambassador you can come by…The most important principle to remember is to create a culture of advocacy,” she said in Houston. “This is really a community that regularly communicates and engages in the political process. It gives them all the necessary tools and empowers them to get involved and make a difference.”
This may explain why the film not only raised money with such rapidity, but also has full industry backing for its nationwide tour
FrackNation Tour’s Americans for Prosperity Pitstops