North Carolina businessman Jay Faison has announced that he will spend $175 million to convince his fellow Republicans to change their views on climate change and support a shift to clean energy, and report.
Faison's campaign will be run through his and will include a social media and online advertising blitz, along with digital advocacy efforts at the state and national level and grants to think tanks. According to Politico, the Charlotte-based foundation plans to spend $40 million through 2016 to persuade moderate and conservative Republicans to support the fight against climate change by emphasizing market-based principles more likely to appeal to Republicans. In the first stage of the campaign, ClearPath will target local markets and specific demographics, including Roman Catholics and politically active Floridians; use digital engagement tools to generate feedback from its audience; and support think tanks like the and the .
In addition, Faison, who made a fortune from the sale of his audio-visual equipment company SnapAV, is giving $10 million to a related political nonprofit to raise additional funds. He also has donated to the campaigns of two GOP presidential candidates who have acknowledged the need to address climate change — Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who is expected to announce his candidacy on June 15. A recent found that 37 percent of self-identified conservative Republicans expected climate change to occur in their lifetime, 19 percent believed it will affect future generations, and 40 percent said climate change will never happen.
"I always felt a little alone out there as a Republican, and so I started ClearPath to create a dialogue around this in a way that hadn't been done before and sort of be part of the solution," Faison told Politico, adding that he'd like to see the party's candidates debate the solutions to climate change, not the science. "We think that there are real Republican solutions to the problem." According to Reuters, the foundation has invested between $1 million and $9 million in three or four solar energy projects. Faison also has advocated for blocking utility monopolies from standing in the way of rooftop solar and other clean energy sources — rather than relying on government measures — but it's a position that will put him in conflict with megadonors like the Koch brothers.
"There's a lot of center-right Republicans that feel like they don't have a voice in this issue, and surveys would say they're eager to share this information to bring other people along with them," said Faison. "I think everybody agrees that there's [climate] risk. And if there is risk then I think we need to move on to solutions which are right in front of our nose."