Top Romney PAC donor gave millions to cap-and-trade effort

One of Mitt Romney’s biggest financial backers has given millions of dollars to an environmental group seeking passage of a cap-and-trade program to battle global warming — a policy that Romney has bashed on the stump.

Julian Robertson, founder of the hedge fund Tiger Management, has given $1.25 million to Restore Our Future, the super-PAC supporting Romney’s White House bid, according to Federal Election Commission filings.


He also provided over $40 million to support the climate work of the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) between 2005 and 2009.

Robertson funded EDF’s work to advocate for the emissions-trading policy, but the money was not used for lobbying on legislation, according to a source familiar with the work.

Robertson is a member of EDF’s board of trustees, and continues to support the group financially, the source said.

EDF supported the cap-and-trade bill that cleared the House in 2009, but sweeping climate and energy legislation collapsed in the Senate the following year despite a major campaign by green groups.

As Massachusetts governor in the middle of the last decade, Romney initially backed creation of a regional cap-and-trade system for power plants among Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, but backed away before the program launched.

Cap-and-trade, however, has become toxic in GOP political circles. Romney and the party’s other White House hopefuls — including some who once backed it — have consistently attacked the policy on the campaign trail over the past year, alleging it would be economically harmful. 

Romney, on the stump, has also appeared to retreat from the view that human activities are driving climate change.

“EDF is grateful to Julian Robertson for the support that he has given our organization,” said Eric Pooley, senior vice president for strategy and communications with EDF.

He noted that the nonprofit group cannot support individual candidates but that “our supporters are certainly free to.”

Matthew Nisbet, an American University associate professor who tracks climate advocacy, flagged Robertson's contributions on his blog earlier Wednesday.

— This post was updated at 1:17 p.m.