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Did Koch Brothers Influence Wind Energy Policy In Huron County Michigan?

Ed Note: This post was first published in 2015 and generated a lot of controversy.  In 2017, we took the post down as the information was becoming dated. However, we are still getting inquiries about the possibility of outside funding supporting anti-wind efforts. We decided to republish the story with updates as an historical interest.

In 2019 we found a source of Political Action Committee activity and included KochPAC contributions to Michigan candidates and parties.

Huron County Township’s Take Back Zoning to Block Wind Projects

Koch Brothers Wind Energy
Upper Thumb Wind Farm

It started as a simple question. Who donated $1,100 to Lincoln Township to set up a legal defense fund. The fund was being set up in case a legal challenge should arise because of sudden changes in zoning policy concerning wind project development.

Lincoln Township resident, Arlene Schipinski wanted to know what happened to cause this sudden formation of a legal fund for her Township. Her questions were met with criticism and hostility. The Township officials stonewalled her with each request resulting in $1,000s in township expense and no answer to who has funded this “legal slush fund.” Schipinski filed at least four FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests.

Huron County Townships Go Anti Wind

The Huron Daily Tribune reported that Lincoln Township is part of a “39,000-acre wind overlay district project currently proposed by DTE Energy that also includes parts of Dwight, Bloomfield, and Sigel townships. It includes 50 to 70 turbines.” It seems that in a dramatic turn of events, the Lincoln township board has turned cold on the idea of further wind development. Citing; “We feel that Huron County has done our part as far as Green Energy. We feel that no additional turbines should be allowed in Huron County.” Yet four of five Lincoln board members have easement agreements with DTE Energy for the new project. That includes Supervisor Melvin Drake, Clerk Irvin Kanaski, Treasurer Patricia Weber, and Trustee, John Wisneski. According to the Huron Daily Tribune. What caused this turn-around?

2016 Update: Since ThumbWind was made aware of this story, we were contacted by several residents and concerned citizens who what to “set us straight.” This sudden interest in our questions sent up the red flares, and our team has been reaching out in several areas. Now, the conservative group Mackinac Center for Public Policy has filed a story on this issue supporting the FOIA requests submitted by Arlene. ThumbWind was also contacted by other townships in the area on the “tone” of our posts. Asking questions can upset some Township officials. We appreciate their interest and encourage them to over-communicate to their residents.

The Interest of the IICC in the Thumb’s Wind Projects

ptc-image

The Interstate Informed Citizens Coalition, IICC, is supposedly a local anti-wind group based in Adrian, Michigan. Yet their moniker appears to comment and be involved for just about every wind project from the Mackinaw Bridge to southern Indiana. Suddenly the IICC group director, Kevon Martis, begins commenting in the Huron Daily Tribune on the FOIA requests. According to Michigan State University’s “State News,” IICC was able to have the resources and funding to bus protesters from Indiana, Ohio, Ontario, and Huron County into Lansing for an anti-wind project protest in Lansing in November 2013. The group’s director Kevon Martis has multiple connections to known fossil fuel-funded front groups. His group has cited the work of the Center of the American Experiment, an affiliate of the State Policy Network, a Koch Brothers-funded front group. In 2013 the IICC signed with the Koch Brothers front group Americans for Prosperity calling for the non-renewal of the wind Production Tax Credit tax credit given to the emerging wind industry.

The Koch brothers, who are notorious for attacking renewable energy — precisely because their fossil fuel interests are so threatened by wind and solar — the tactic is to fund local grassroots organizations to offer resource assistance for anti-wind efforts.

Martis’ criticized a ballot proposition that would have expanded Michigan’s renewable energy standard last fall in the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s Capitol Confidential blog. On the website of fossil fuel front group-backed MasterResource.org, and the Committee For a Constructive Tomorrow’s (CFACT)’s website. Groups have also cited his false and misleading claims of the costs of wind energy which has fallen dramatically in the past year. He has also attacked wind energy projects in op-eds in media outlets, most recently in the Huron Daily Tribune. It was reported that Kevon Martis was an attendee at a secret anti-wind meeting spearheaded by a fellow of the American Tradition Institute in 2013. The documents uncovered by the Energy & Policy Institute’s Gabe Elsner showed for the first time that local anti-wind groups were coordinating and working with national fossil fuel-funded advocacy groups to wreck the wind industry.


Kevon Martis
Kevon Martis

2017 Update: We directly asked Kevon Martis if the IICC or any affiliated group donated funds to the Lincoln Township defense fund and he responded that they had not. Kevon also indicated that the IICC had not received any funding from the Koch Brothers. The IICC utilizes a web service in which to obtain donations. Kevon asserts that the attention ThumbWind is giving IICC is a “hatchet job” We have Kevon’s remarks in the comments area below.

2019 Update: Martis has moved up in the world of anti-wind lobbying. Kevon Martis, now reports to be a senior policy fellow at the Energy and Environment Legal Institute in Washington, D.C. The Energy & Environment Legal Institute (aka. E&E Legal) was former the American Tradition Institute (ATI). ATI was involved in all sorts of anti-wind activity including a national PR campaign aimed at causing “subversion in message of [wind] industry so that it effectively becomes so bad that no one wants to admit in public they are for it.” All the grimy details on ATI can be found at Sourcewatch.org

Has Outside Funding Influenced Huron County Voters?

As predicted, it’s clear that Huron County was front-line action concerning renewable wind energy policy in the Great Lakes region. However, a question that comes into play is the number of resources, and outside pressure will play in the further wind project development of Huron, Sanilac, and Tuscola counties. There is a real concern if Huron County is being “used” as a firewall effort by powerful outsiders like the Koch Brothers and other oil and gas interests as part of their more significant effort of stopping the progress of wind energy in the Great Lakes Region.

Update: We are still looking into the source of the Lincoln Township $1,100 defense fund donation.

Koch Money is Still Backing Anti-Wind

KochPac Logo

Harry Brown, Republican Majority Leader in the North Carolina Senate, wanted to ban new wind farms in eastern North Carolina. Brown received thousands of dollars in campaign money from Koch Industries and other fossil fuel interests. Brown received a $4,000 contribution for his reelection campaign from the Koch Industries Political Action Committee (KochPAC).

In Texas, State Senator Donna Campbell sponsored a 2017 bill that would have made wind farms located near military airfields ineligible for North Carolina property tax exemptions. The bill passed and was signed into law by Governor Gregg Abbott.

Senator Campbell received $5,000 in campaign cash from the KochPAC in 2017-18. Governor Abbott received $50,000 from the KochPAC during that same period.

This activity was reported by the Energy & Policy Institute

KochPAC Contributions For Michigan Candidates

2019 KochPAC Michigan Contributions

2017-2018 KochPAC Michigan Contributions

  • LENA FOR CONGRESS MI 2018 GENERAL 09/24/2018 $5,000.00
  • HUIZENGA FOR CONGRESS MI 2018 GENERAL 09/24/2018 $5,000.00
  • FRIENDS OF PAUL MITCHELL MI 2018 GENERAL 09/24/2018 $3,000.00
  • UPTON FOR ALL OF US MI 2018 GENERAL 08/01/2018 $5,000.00
  • MICHIGAN REPUBLICAN PARTY MI 2018 JFC SPLIT TO WIN IN 2018 06/25/2018 $5,000.00
  • LENA FOR CONGRESS MI 2018 PRIMARY 06/25/2018 $5,000.00
  • JUSTIN AMASH FOR CONGRESS MI 2018 PRIMARY 06/25/2018 $5,000.00
  • BERGMANFORCONGRESS MI 2018 PRIMARY 03/22/2018 $3,000.00
  • MIKE BISHOP FOR CONGRESS MI 2018 PRIMARY 03/19/2018 $5,000.00
  • WALBERG FOR CONGRESS MI 2018 PRIMARY 03/13/2018 $1,500.00
  • WALBERG FOR CONGRESS MI 2018 GENERAL 03/13/2018 $5,000.00
  • HUIZENGA FOR CONGRESS MI 2018 PRIMARY 03/08/2018 $1,000.00
  • WALBERG FOR CONGRESS MI 2018 PRIMARY 10/30/2017 $1,000.00
  • FRIENDS OF PAUL MITCHELL MI 2018 PRIMARY 10/13/2017 $1,000.00
  • UPTON FOR ALL OF US MI 2018 PRIMARY 09/14/2017 $1,500.00
  • TROTT FOR CONGRESS, INC. MI VOIDED 6/5/17 DISBURSEMENT 07/27/2017 -$1,000.00
  • HUIZENGA FOR CONGRESS MI 2018 PRIMARY 06/23/2017 $3,500.00
  • TROTT FOR CONGRESS, INC. MI 2018 PRIMARY 06/05/2017 $1,000.00
  • TROTT FOR CONGRESS, INC. MI 2018 PRIMARY 06/05/2017 $2,500.00
  • UPTON FOR ALL OF US MI 2018 PRIMARY 03/28/2017 $2,500.00
  • WALBERG FOR CONGRESS MI 2018 PRIMARY 03/22/2017 $2,500.00
  • FRIENDS OF PAUL MITCHELL MI 2018 PRIMARY 03/22/2017 $1,000.00
  • BERGMANFORCONGRESS MI 2018 PRIMARY 03/22/2017 $1,000.00
  • BERGMANFORCONGRESS MI 2018 PRIMARY 03/22/2017 $1,000.00
  • UPTON FOR ALL OF US MI 2018 PRIMARY 03/15/2017 $1,000.00

2016-2017 KochPAC Michigan Contributions

  • BERGMANFORCONGRESS MI 2016 GENERAL 09/27/2016 $5,000.00
  • JUSTIN AMASH FOR CONGRESS MI 2016 GENERAL 09/19/2016 $5,000.00
  • HUIZENGA FOR CONGRESS MI 2016 GENERAL 09/19/2016 $1,000.00
  • FRIENDS OF PAUL MITCHELL MI 2016 GENERAL 09/14/2016 $2,500.00
  • HUIZENGA FOR CONGRESS MI 2016 GENERAL 06/24/2016 $1,000.00
  • MOOLENAAR FOR CONGRESS MI 2016 PRIMARY 06/15/2016 $500.00
  • MIKE BISHOP FOR CONGRESS MI 2016 PRIMARY 06/15/2016 $1,000.00
  • MICHIGAN REPUBLICAN PARTY MI 2016 CONTRIBUTION 06/15/2016 $5,000.00
  • HUIZENGA FOR CONGRESS MI 2016 GENERAL 05/10/2016 $2,000.00
  • TROTT FOR CONGRESS, INC. MI 2016 PRIMARY 03/23/2016 $1,500.00
  • HUIZENGA FOR CONGRESS MI 2016 PRIMARY 03/23/2016 $2,500.00
  • HUIZENGA FOR CONGRESS MI 2016 GENERAL 03/23/2016 $1,000.00
  • HUIZENGA FOR CONGRESS MI 2016 PRIMARY 12/07/2015 $2,500.00
  • JUSTIN AMASH FOR CONGRESS MI 2016 PRIMARY 11/16/2015 $5,000.00
  • UPTON FOR ALL OF US MI 2016 GENERAL 10/23/2015 $5,000.00
  • UPTON FOR ALL OF US MI 2016 PRIMARY 10/23/2015 $1,000.00
  • MICHIGAN REPUBLICAN PARTY MI 2015 CONTRIBUTION 10/23/2015 $5,000.00
  • UPTON FOR ALL OF US MI 2016 PRIMARY 09/17/2015 $2,500.00
  • TROTT FOR CONGRESS, INC. MI 2016 PRIMARY 07/13/2015 $1,000.00
  • WALBERG FOR CONGRESS MI 2016 GENERAL 06/12/2015 $2,500.00
  • UPTON FOR ALL OF US MI 2016 PRIMARY 05/22/2015 $1,500.00
  • WALBERG FOR CONGRESS MI 2016 PRIMARY 05/18/2015 $1,500.00
  • WALBERG FOR CONGRESS MI 2016 PRIMARY 05/18/2015 $1,000.00
  • WALBERG FOR CONGRESS MI 2016 GENERAL 05/18/2015 $2,500.00
  • MOOLENAAR FOR CONGRESS MI 2016 PRIMARY 05/18/2015 $2,000.00
  • BENISHEK FOR CONGRESS, INC. MI 2016 GENERAL 05/18/2015 $3,000.00
  • BENISHEK FOR CONGRESS, INC. MI 2016 GENERAL 05/18/2015 $1,000.00
  • WALBERG FOR CONGRESS MI 2016 PRIMARY 03/25/2015 $2,500.00
  • BENISHEK FOR CONGRESS, INC. MI 2016 PRIMARY 03/18/2015 $3,000.00
  • BENISHEK FOR CONGRESS, INC. MI 2016 PRIMARY 03/18/2015 $1,000.00
  • BENISHEK FOR CONGRESS, INC. MI 2016 GENERAL 03/18/2015 $1,000.00
  • BENISHEK FOR CONGRESS, INC. MI 2016 PRIMARY 03/03/2015 $1,000.00

For the record ThumbWind is neither a Pro or Anti Wind site. (Which drive some folks nuts. ) We are an eclectic blog wishing to point out the best the Upper Thumb of Michigan has to offer.

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9 thoughts on “Did Koch Brothers Influence Wind Energy Policy In Huron County Michigan?”

  1. Mr. Martis,

    Please refrain from making insinuations and accusations that I’m on the take with DTE or any pro-wind energy group. I have never ever been offered compensation and never have/never would accept compensation for my late nights of writing and research. All I get for my efforts is the headaches from lack of sleep because I work full time+ and help my husband farm. I have personally paid for my FOIA requests, upped my phone plan, upped my digital storage and had loss of wages because I have taken off of work to attend local governmental meetings. I don’t get free rides. These are at all my expense.

    My husband had signed the wind lease contract before we met. I have no vested monetary interest in the lease payments and contract he is trying to honor/fulfill. I have no vested interest in the farm’s income other than I’m supporting my husband by feeding the cattle, driving the tractors to work fields, do his banking business, shuffling machinery field to field or taking him meals to the field etc.

    I like the concept of wind energy. He likes the concept of wind energy.

    I don’t like the anti-wind protesters getting in my face at informational meetings. I don’t like the actions of 5 people making rash decisions for Lincoln Township citizens and in one swift maneuver taking away their voices then withholding pertinent information to explain their actions. As it has been quoted before in many articles I’ve read, “Government should be transparent”.

  2. What hooey. As a long time birder and I and committed opponent to the crime of bird- bat- slaughtering wind energy (and a Dwmocrat), I am grateful for all Kevon Martis and IICC is doing in its efforts to expose this wind energy scheme masquerading as “green.”

    While too many well-known national and state conservation organization have stayed mum (check who contributes to THEIR funding), I have, time and again, relied on IICC to support my position and advocate against wind turbines as an alternative energy source. I hold Kevon Martis in high esteem for his tireless efforts

    Raising suspicion about a thousand-dollar donation to a township is absolutely laughable when heaven-know how many thousands of thousands have been spent on greasing palms, intimidation, and propaganda by this lucrative wind game.

    With nearly 500 wind turbines killing birds and bats and sickening residents in Huron County, I remain grateful
    for the voice of IICC.

    Monica Essenmacher, Head
    Port Crescent Hawk Watch

  3. You can take those annoying taxpayer subsidized windmills and place them where the sun does not shine and where the wind does not often blow. Place them in your backyard where the sound and vibrations will keep you up all night .. and where they will keep you busy picking up windmill slaughtered birds.

  4. With freedom of speech comes responsibility. If a coal mine owner opposes wind, they are free to say that, AS A COAL MINE OWNER. But it is obviously immoral, dishonest, to say it as “Moms for a Healthy Michigan”. Who gave $1100? That’s not a very hard question. Lie or tell the truth. I support wind. I will give $100 to a worthy group to support wind, because of my well-researched belief that it is needed. And I am fine with that organization disclosing my contribution. The Kochs are fundamentally dishonest because they hide their fully funded propaganda machine as the “Ethan Allen Institute” here in Vermont and the “Mackinac Center” in MI. If you believe something, sign it. Own it. Don’t hide it. Honesty is NOT overrated. It is real. Dirty money is a cancer. It speads and contaminates democracy. Instead of lesions tumors, we get clumps of people who actually believe that dog crap the Kochs are feeding us.

    • Bill, Thanks for stopping by. As you can see by the responses my post rankled some that I even asked the question. To date, the contributors remains anonymous and Lincoln Twp now has to develop and fund a larger township government in order to be self zoned. It started with Arlene Schipinski who wanted more information from her elected officicals. Not getting an answer, she filed several FOIA requests. As a result she was maligned by elected officials. It’s a mess.

      I agree 100% with your assessment of “Dark Money” no matter how small. Not having an open transparent government where incoming funds are concerned naturally leads to questions of impropriety. Is Lincoln Twp. going to continue to run with funding from unknown outside interests?

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