- Assets: $167,908,151 (2013)
- Grants Received: $31,923,491 (2013)
- Grants Awarded: $44,213,867 (2013)
The Sea Change Foundation (SCF) was established in 2005 for the purpose of “achieving meaningful social impact through leveraged philanthropy that addresses the most pressing problems facing the world today.” Focused primarily on combating “the serious threats posed by global climate change,” which SCF attributes in large measure to the greenhouse-gas emissions produced by human industrial activity, the Foundation is a major funder of some of the largest left-wing environmentalist groups in the United States. Among these are the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, the National Wildlife Federation, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Sierra Club Foundation.
Sea Change also contributes heavily to the Center for American Progress (CAP) Action Fund. While CAP’s attention is spread across a wide variety of issues, environmental and energy-policy matters are among its leading concerns.
In recent years, SCF has had a close financial relationship with a Bermuda-based corporation named Klein Ltd., whose donations to Sea Change in 2010-11 totaled approximately $23 million, or more than 40% of the Foundation’s receipts during that period. Klein Ltd.’s articles of incorporation indicate that the company’s sole purpose is to give money to nonprofit groups and foundations “with object[ives] similar to its own.” According to Washington Free Beacon journalist Lachlan Markay, “Documents filed with the Bermudan government suggest that [Klein Ltd.] exists only on paper.”
Ron Arnold, author of Undue Influence: Wealthy Foundations, Grant-Driven Green Groups, and Zealous Bureaucrats That Control Your Future, notes that a number of left-wing foundations like SCF have chosen Bermuda and other offshore destinations to mask the origins of contributions they receive. “Several countries have become favorites in the no-disclosure-required industry,” says Arnold, “notably Bermuda, Panama, and Liechtenstein…. Bermuda boasts an entire building devoted to plagues of lawyers handling secret trusts that funnel personal wealth into foundations which fund non-profit operations in the United States.”
Apart from Klein Ltd., only three other donors gave any money at all to SCF during 2010-11. These were hedge-fund principal Nathaniel Simons and his wife Laura Baxter-Simons (both of whom were foundation managers at Sea Change), and a trust bearing Mr. Simons’s name.
While the connections between the Simonses and Klein Ltd. are not entirely clear, both individuals have noteworthy ties to a Bermuda-based corporate law firm named Wakefield Quin, which is deeply enmeshed with Klein Ltd. and thus, by extension, with SCF:
- Klein Ltd. itself is a client of Wakefield Quin.
- The address that the registrar of companies has on file for Klein Ltd. is that of Wakefield Quin’s offices in Hamilton, Bermuda.
- Klein Ltd.’s two registered business agents—Nicholas Hoskins and Marlies Smith—are both employed by Wakefield Quin. Hoskins, for his part, is also: (a) a director at a hedge fund management firm that is heavily invested in Russian oil and gas; (b) vice president of the London-based investment firm Marcuard Services Limited, whose president was once the board chairman of the state-owned Russian oil company Rosneft; and (c) a director at a Bermuda-based subsidiary of the Russian investment bank Troika Dialog, which organized an initial public offering for Timan Oil & Gas, a company headed by the Russian oligarch Alexander Lebedev.
Hoskins’s Russian connections are noteworthy in light of the fact that SCF supports the aforementioned environmentalist groups that, as Lachlan Markay wrote in February 2015, “push policies [e.g., anti-fracking, anti-drilling] that would hamstring surging American oil and gas production, which has hurt Russia’s energy-reliant economy.” Moreover, approximately 20 companies and investment funds with ties to the Russian government are clients of Hoskins’s employer, Wakefield Quin.
Will Coggin, a senior research analyst at the Environmental Policy Alliance, says: “The American public deserves to know whether environmentalists are attacking U.S. energy companies at the behest of a Russian government that would like nothing more than to see their international competition weakened.”
- Medallion International is run by Renaissance Technologies, which was founded by Nathaniel Simons’s father. Nathaniel Simons was once (in 2009) a principal at Renaissance, and Laura Baxter-Simons was an associate counsel there until 2011.
- Nathaniel Simons is currently the chief executive of Meritage Holdings. Laura Baxter-Simons is the general counsel and chief compliance officer at Meritage Group L.P., which owns Meritage Holdings.
As of 2011, SCF had $63.9 million invested in Medallion and $16.3 million invested in Meritage. The Foundation sold stakes in both funds sometime prior to July 2012, earning, in the process, more than $67 million in net capital gains.
 Nathaniel Simons spoke at a 2009 event held by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, where he emphasized the important role that foundation cash could play in building a “low-carbon economy.” “There does need to be more capital to move in from philanthropy,” Simons asserted. “There need to be more funders, and I think that foundations are starting to understand that.”