Open Letter to the Sohn Conference Foundation

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ON HEDGE FUNDS, PHILANTHROPIC HYPOCRICY & CANCEROUS CASH

 

April 30, 2016

The Sohn Conference Foundation
c/o COO Tiffany Stevens & Paula Bernstein, Development Manager
750 Third Ave, 22nd floor
New York, NY 10017

SENT VIA EMAIL
Board of Directors: Douglas Hirsch, Daniel Nir, Evan Sohn, Graham Duncan

RE: Concerns regarding the Sohn Conference Foundation mission and scheduled speakers at the 2016 Sohn New York Investment Conference

To the Board:

In 2015 we wrote a letter raising serious concerns regarding the mission of the Sohn Conference Foundation and the scheduled speakers at the Sohn Investment Conference who do business in direct conflict of your mission.

This year we are, again, outraged. And so we write again, now aligned with leading grassroots environmental organizations 350.org and Greenpeace, to voice our concerns together, and louder.

Several of the billionaire and multimillionaire hedge fund managers associated with the Sohn Conference Foundation are currently piling into fossil fuel investments, supporting pro-fossil fuel think tanks, and funding climate change denying politicians.

Their investments, philanthropy and campaign cash actually cause cancer.

David Einhorn, Stanley Druckenmiller, Paul Singer, Seth Klarman and Paul Tudor Jones are synonymous with “Cancerous Cash” in three major ways:

(1) They invest in big polluters and fossil fuels

(2) They fund junk science and dirty think tanks, and

(3) They bankroll the political candidacies of climate change deniers.

Instead of investing in green energy and renewable resources, these hedge fund managers are pouring billions of dollars into propping up the fossil fuel industry, in an attempt to enrich themselves at the expense of people and the planet.

The very same individuals you have solicited to raise money for pediatric cancer research are making millions of dollars through investments that have increased exposure to carcinogenic chemicals for children and adults.

These hedge fund managers are deeply involved in investments and lobbying that are keeping the cancer-causing fossil-fuel industry afloat, despite historic and worldwide rejection of dirty energy.

“Big Green” organizations partnered with Hedge Clippers, leading student and campus-based groups and state-based environmental advocates in California to detail their roles in a recent joint report, Hedge Funds and Fossil Fuels.

We summarize their dealings below. What’s worse, they are not only investing in the dirty energy sector, but they’re also making political donations to climate change deniers in government, and taking control of college and university endowments, some of those where cancer research is taking place.

The Sohn Conference Foundation is dedicated to the treatment and cure of pediatric cancer, supporting cutting-edge medical research, state-of-the-art research equipment, and innovative programs to ensure children with cancer survive and thrive.

There are profound conflicts between the admirable and unimpeachable goals of the Foundation and the work and investments of the billionaire hedge fund managers scheduled to speak next week and at upcoming Sohn conferences.

For these reasons, we again urge you to cancel their speaking presentations at the 2016 Sohn Investment Conference and at your subsequent conferences.

clipper next

Fossil fuels release harmful carcinogens—compounds that cause cancer in humans—into the environment in two ways: during the process of extraction, and during the process of combustion, i.e. when they are burned for fuel.

According to the World Health Organization, air pollution is the most widespread environmental carcinogen and is known to cause lung cancer. Fossil fuel production and use is a principal source of air pollution.

Another recent study found increased incidence of blood cancers such as leukemia and Non-Hodgkins lymphoma among people living near fossil fuel processing plants.[1]

Producing fossil fuels emits carcinogens such as benzene and formaldehyde, into the environment; air quality tests around some oil and gas (“fracking”) operations found levels of these carcinogens often exceed federal guidelines.[2]

Another study found that people who live near fracking sites have higher long-term cancer risks.[3]

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, children are more sensitive to chemicals in the environment than adults. A 2013 study by UCLA researchers found that higher levels of exposure to traffic exhaust in utero were associated with higher odds of childhood cancers.[4]

According to a 2008 article in Environmental Health Perspectives entitled “Children Are Likely to Suffer Most from Our Fossil Fuel Addiction,” exposure to air pollution in utero is associated with increased risk of cancer later in life.[5]

clipper nextThe work and investments of the following speakers are in direct conflict with each aspect of the Foundation’s work. Any speaking roles should be cancelled and namesakes removed or diminished from all Sohn event materials:

Stanley Druckenmiller’s hedge fund Dusquesne Family Office has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in fossil fuels in the last year. Druckenmiller was also a major contributor to FWD.us, a group that ran ads in support of the Keystone XXL pipeline, and is a Trustee for the Environmental Defense Fund, an environmental nonprofit that promotes natural gas as a climate-friendly alternative to coal.

Seth Klarman and his hedge fund have over a third of their holdings—worth more than $1.8 billion—in the energy sector, including a nearly $1 billion stake in Cheniere Energy, a Houston-based oil and gas company. Klarman and his wife, Beth, have given $51,800 to climate change denying politicians since 1998.[6] Klarman will be judging this year’s Investment Idea Contest.

Paul Singer and his hedge fund are leaders in investing in the dirty energy sector, with more than $1.1 billion invested in energy equities as the most recent quarter. Singer is Chairman of the conservative Manhattan Institute, which promotes a fossil fuel energy agenda. In 2013, he gave $200,000 to the think tank run by high-profile “climate change skeptic” and fossil fuel advocate Bjørn Lomborg. Over the past three years, he has donated more than $2.8 million to conservative think tanks that advocate for fossil fuels, including the Manhattan Instittue and the Americn Enterprise Institute. Singer and his employees have contributed over $1.1 million to climate change denying politicians, with $95,000 from Singer alone. [7] He is scheduled to speak at Sohn Tel Aviv.

Paul Tudor Jones owns a significant stake in Castleton Commodities International, a global energy commodities merchant with extensive investments in both fossil fuel commodities and infrastcuture, including coal terminals. A featured speaker at the 2014 Sohn conference, Tudor Jones paid $2 million in 1990 as part of a plea bargain with federal prosecutors regarding his failure to supervise his contractor/landscaper, who was charged by federal prosecutors with filling in 86 acres of protected wetlands as part of the creation of Tudor Jones’ private hunting reserve, Tudor Farms. [8] 

David Einhorn’s hedge fund ownS a 12% state in Consol Energy, a coal and natural gas company that has been repeatedly cited for polluting West Virginia waters with carcinogenic chemicals, while lobbying successfully against laws and regulations that would have increased protections for the public against exposure to toxic and carcinogenic chemicals.

We expect that you will take these concerns seriously, and we are available to meet with you to discuss the details of these conflicts directly.

Thank you for your consideration, and thank you for your dedication and leadership in the field of pediatric cancer treatment, care and research.

Yours very truly,

Brett Fleishman, 350.org
Senior Global Analyst

Charlie Cray, Greenpeace USA,
Senior Research Analyst

TJ Michels, Hedge Clippers
Campaign Director

Leewana Thomas, United Students Against Sweatshops
National Coordinator

 

Footnotes

[1] http://articles.latimes.com/2013/oct/25/world/la-fg-alberta-air-20131026

[2] http://ehjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1476-069X-13-82

[3] http://ecowatch.com/2013/12/09/10-toxic-ingredients-used-in-coal-oil-gas-production/

[4] http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/1306761/#tab2

[5] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2516589/

[6] “Hedge Funds and Fossil Fuels,” http://hedgeclippers.org/hedgepapers-no-28-hedge-funds-and-fossil-fuels/

[7] “Hedge Funds and Fossil Fuels,” http://hedgeclippers.org/hedgepapers-no-28-hedge-funds-and-fossil-fuels/

[8] “Hedge Funds and Fossil Fuels,” http://hedgeclippers.org/hedgepapers-no-28-hedge-funds-and-fossil-fuels/

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