Leonardo DiCaprio's Charity Dealings Are Reportedly Shadier Than We Thought

Leonardo DiCaprio is widely known and beloved across America for being one of the country's foremost film stars, appearing as the leading man in dozens of films since his launch to fame in the 1990s. Over the years, DiCaprio has become one of Hollywood's most bankable stars, as well as one of America's foremost sex symbols

Perhaps due in part to his widespread popularity, DiCaprio has been unafraid to get involved politically, having campaigned for John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign, campaigned for Barack Obama in 2012, planned a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton in 2016, and fundraised for Joe Biden in 2020. During the 2020 election cycle, DiCaprio also narrated a Netflix documentary about voting rights. 

One of DiCaprio's go-to issues is climate change, and the actor has become one of the biggest voices in Hollywood to speak out in favor of environmentalism and action against global warming. This was largely why he formed Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting environmental awareness, preserving Earth's biodiversity, and supporting renewable energy. For his work promoting protection of the environment, DiCaprio has received praise from numerous environmental groups over the past two decades. However, according to one new report, it turns out that DiCaprio's numerous charity dealings may be a bit shadier than we once thought. 

Leonardo DiCaprio's foundation allegedly funneled cash through dark money groups

According to a new report by Fox News, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation allegedly used dark money organizations — i.e., organizations which are not required to disclose the identity of their donors — to funnel money into lawsuits against oil companies. Fox News highlighted a 2017 email exchange in which Dan Emmett, a philanthropist, and Ann Carlson, a UCLA climate professor, reference how Chuck Savitt, an employee of law firm Sher Edling, had already received support from Terry Tamminen, the DiCaprio Foundation's CEO. 

"Chuck Savitt who is heading this new organization behind the lawsuits has been seeking our support," Emmett wrote to Carlson. "Terry Tamminen in his new role with the DiCaprio Foundation has been a key supporter." Two months later, the DiCaprio foundation publicly announced that it would contribute $20 million to various climate-related causes. "We are proud to support the work of over 100 organizations at home and abroad," DiCaprio said in a speech to Yale University at the time, per The Climate Reporter. "These grantees are active on the ground ... tackling the urgent, existential challenges of climate change." 

Sher Edling, for its part, has indeed held a record of filing lawsuits against numerous fossil fuel companies, and was even enlisted in 2020 by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison to help represent the state in its lawsuit against ExxonMobil, per Energy in Depth. As of August 15, neither Tamminen nor DiCaprio himself has commented publicly on the revelations.