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Pro-DDT group's director donated to anti-Rachel Carson senator
Michael Roston
Published: Thursday May 31, 2007
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A Republican Senator who successfully prevented the US Senate from honoring the centennial of the birth of environmentalist and Silent Spring author Rachel Carson received campaign donations from a member of the board of directors of a group that sponsors pro-DDT advocacy, RAW STORY has found.

William Dunn, President of Dunn Capital Management in Stuart, Florida, gave $4,000 to the campaign of Senator Tom Coburn in 2004, according to Federal Election Commission records. Dunn sits on the board of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a group that promotes the use of DDT to fight malaria, and has sponsored a website called "Rachel Was Wrong," which condemns the environmental scientist and activist for her famous book.

Indirectly, Dunn has also supported a political action committee that has backed Coburn. He gave $5,000 in 2004 to the Club for Growth PAC, which has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Oklahoma Republican over the years.

Senator Coburn's office did not respond to a request for comment.

RAW STORY revealed on Tuesday night last week that the Oklahoma Republican was using a parliamentary 'hold' to block a bipartisan 'sense of the Senate' resolution that would honor author Rachel Carson on the hundredth anniversary of her birth. Carson, who died in 1964, wrote the book Silent Spring which is often credited with kick-starting the modern environmental movement, and creating the impetus to ban the use of DDT as an agricultural pesticide in the United States.

On the following Wednesday afternoon, Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic Majority Leader, tried to pass the resolution honoring Carson, which was introduced by Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) and co-sponsored by Senators Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) among others, on a 'unanimous consent' basis. But Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN) rose to object in place of Coburn, who was not on the Senate floor at the time.

"I think it is too bad, first, that the person who objected to this would not have the--I should not say courage, but that person who objects to this should come and do it on their own behalf, not have some other Senator object," Reid said on the Senate floor.

The Nevada Democrat added, "Rachel Carson was a scientist, a writer, and a pioneer in the environmental movement to make this world a better place. This is a simple resolution. It does not cost a penny. All it does is give recognition to someone who certainly deserves that. So I am terribly disappointed that there is an objection to this, but we will do it again at another time."

However, last Friday afternoon, a spokesman from Reid's office told RAW STORY in an e-mail that the resolution would not be brought to the Senate floor again before the Senate enters its Memorial Day recess. Carson was born on May 27, which passed on Sunday.

Dunn spoke with RAW STORY Tuesday afternoon by phone. He said that he had met Coburn, but had not spoken with or written to the Senator to discuss DDT or CEI's work. He explained his financial support for Coburn, as well.

"He was supported by the Club for Growth, and that was my connection to him, besides knowing something about his political voting," he said.

The CEI board member also expressed some excitement about the group's work on DDT.

"Did you see our new t-shirt? It's got a picture of the continent of Africa, with a great big red mosquito, and big banner across it, which says 'RachelWasWrong.com,'" Dunn said. "It's wonderful, I just picked up a couple of them to hand around."

Senator Coburn has been praised by CEI, the pro-DDT group. A Wednesday posting at Open Market, CEI's blog, praises Coburn for standing "largely alone in efforts to stop congressional initiatives to honor the environmental movementís icon the late Rachel Carson, whose 100th birthday comes this Sunday...Rather than launching a beneficial environmental cause, Carson launched a misinformation campaign that her followers continue without regard for the consequences."

Coburn in turn linked to the 'Rachel Was Wrong' website in his Tuesday announcement that he would block the resolution honoring Carson.

The CEI-sponsored campaign criticizes Carson in the strongest of terms.

"Today millions of people around the world suffer the painful and often deadly effects of malaria because one person sounded a false alarm. That person is Rachel Carson, author of the 1962 best selling book Silent Spring," reads a message on the front page of the website.

CEI has been accused of serving as a pro-industry advocacy group against various environmental causes. A 20th Anniversary Report on the CEI website showed that 31% of its 2003 income came from corporations.

Additionally, a CEI staff member told the Inter Press Service in 2004 that the group received funding from Monsanto, the agribusiness corporation that originally manufactured DDT, although it no longer produces the pesticide.

Monsanto also supports the work of the Congress of Racial Equality, another pro-DDT group that contributes content to the 'Rachel Was Wrong' website, according to the Pesticide Action Network of North America.

A spokeswoman from PANNA, Stephenie Hendricks, argued to RAW STORY that although Monsanto was no longer manufacturing DDT itself, it was sponsoring efforts to promote the pesticide's use in anti-malaria campaigns to "create a more broadly permissive environment for agricultural chemicals."

Monsanto did not respond to RAW STORY's inquiries on whether it had a hand in the anti-Carson activities of Senator Coburn or CEI.