Jay Halfon: The Fractivist Rasputin

Tom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.


No single individual is more involved, or less well known, in fractivist circles than Jay Halfon, an attorney who is the obscure link between fractivists and their funders. He’s the fractivist Rasputin.

The name of Grigori Rasputin (depicted below) is now legendary as the man who worked his way into the confidence of the Russian Tsar and manipulated events through a combination of Machiavellian talents and mysticism, reflecting his simultaneous status as a true believer and a political schemer – a complex man of connections with eyes that pierced the soul.


Attorney Jay Halfon plays fractivist Rasputin in the world of the Rockefellers, the Park Foundation and other funders and sponsors of opposition to natural gas development; opposition which is anything but grass roots.

Who Is Jay Halfon?

Jay Robert Halfon is described as follows by Earthworks, an organization where, together with Tony Ingraffea and Deborah Rogers, he serves as a Director:

Jay R. Halfon is a practicing attorney and public policy strategist. He represents tax-exempt organizations, including public charities,private foundations, advocacy groups and political entities. He has a broad range of experience influencing public policy in both Congress and state legislatures. Mr. Halfon served as executive director and general counsel of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association from May 1998 to December 2001. Previously he was executive director of the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) for a decade ending in 1997. Jay joined our Board in 1998.

Earthworks, of course, is the organization that engineered the Denton, Texas, fracking ban (likely to be overturned) by appealing to the mush-for-brains student population on the University of North Texas campus. It also funds Calvin Tillman’s ShaleTest junk science and it’s the home of the Oil & Gas Accountability Project which is actively engaged in fighting fracking in Colorado on behalf of millionaire Congressman Jared Polis.Jay HalfonFinally, it is the perch from which Deborah Rogers, the former model and current goat farmer, crows about the economic wows of shale, claiming to be a Federal Reserve advisor because she’s listed as a member on a regional committee of other such “farmers” that never meets. Such is the nature of this fractivist group where Halfon helps pull the strings.

Like Halfon’s other clients and the man himself, Earthworks bears a strong resemblance to the mythical Lernaean Hydra. It’s a multi-headed fractivist beast striking out at energy independence, economic opportunity and anything else that might distract from the twin goals of imposing a utopian elitist vision and turning rural America into a wasteland to be bought on the cheap.

Earthworks, though, is only the beginning of Jay Halfon’s influence and connections. The organization is funded by, among others, the Ithaca (NY) based Park Foundation, which has given it $375,000 since 2009. Jay Halfon is also a board member of the Park Foundation and is paid $60,000 per year for it. The Park Foundation funds all things fractivist, including not only Earthworks, but also the following entities (descriptions of support are from the Park Foundation’s own records):

“Ongoing efforts to safeguard human health and the environment
in the Northeast from dangers associated with fracking”

Food & Water Watch
“New Yorkers Against Fracking campaign”

Environment Advocates of New York
“Ongoing work to safeguard New York from gas drilling
and emerging work to ensure the vision of a
sustainable, cleaner and safer energy future for the state”

Frack Action Fund
“General operating support” 

Green Corps, Inc.
“Strengthen the fracking activist base
in the New York City suburbs”

New York Public Interest Research Group Fund (NY-PIRG)
“Continue its public education and outreach campaign
on the issue of gas drilling in New York”

Sustainable Markets Foundation
“Continued Marcellus Shale-related activities in New York,
including research, advocacy, media outreach,
internet mapping, and grassroots organizing” and
“Coordinate the broad movement of opposition
to shale gas drilling in New York”

Fractracker Alliance
“Continued role as a resource for understanding the impacts
of unconventional oil and gas development in New York”

Grassroots Environmental Education, Inc.
“Public awareness initiatives related to
shale gas development in New York State”

Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc.
“Protecting drinking water from poorly regulated
oil and gas drilling and other threats”

Catskill Mountainkeeper
“General support for its on-going
comprehensive campaign against fracking”

Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University
“Research into the environmental and health risks of oil
and gas wastewater disposal in the Marcellus Shale region”

Public Policy and Education Fund of New York
“Campaign against fracking in New York
and related organizing work in the Southern Tier”

Delaware Valley Arts Alliance, Inc.
“Trailer Talk: The Frack Talk Marcellus Shale Water Project”

Independent Media Institute
“AlterNet’s coverage of freshwater issues, with a special focus
on fracking and the intersections of water and energy”

Public Interest Projects, Inc.
“American Sustainable Business Council’s organizing
activities in New York around shale gas drilling concerns”

Environment North Carolina Research & Policy Center, Inc.
“Campaign against hydrofracking in North Carolina”

Center for Biological Diversity, Inc.
“Fighting Crude Oil Transport in New York State”

Citizens Campaign Fund for the Environment
“Public education and outreach on gas drilling in New York State”

These are just the Park Foundation grantees where the explicit purpose of the organizations funded or the grants made is to undermine fracking. There are numerous other grantees who do the same thing, but under more innocuous descriptions.

These include, but are far from limited to, American Rivers (who designated the Delaware River as “most threatened” in a carefully choreographed attempt with the Catskill Mountainkeeper to stop gas drilling in the watershed), CERES, Common Cause (which puts out reports accusing the gas industry of doing what Park does), Environment America (the fake pictures people), Truthout, Grist Magazine and 350.org (a Rockefeller front group where Jay Halfon also serves as a director).

There are also Lost Light Projects, Inc. (InsideClimate News, another Rockefeller front group), the Tides Center (which launders grants to others), the Council of Canadians (heavily involved in the fracking war in New Brunswick), the Environmental Integrity Project, the Southern Environmental Law Center, Inc. and Tony Ingraffea’s junk science outfit (Physicians Scientists and Engineers for Sustainable and Healthy Energy) from which all the Cornell fractivists operate (in a gas heated building).

Jay Halfon’s Web

The reach of Jay Halfon’s tentacles through the Park Foundation is far indeed. It goes from having a claw in junk science research, to reporting on it, to ginning up activism based on the reporting, to coordinating the activism, to complaining about the spending of anyone daring to challenge special interest fractivist spending. There is no part of the fractivist continuum that Halfon does not reach out and touch through the Park Foundation, but the Park connections are just one sector of the Halfon web. The following diagram provides the larger perspective.


Notice the role of the Sustainable Markets Foundation, where Halfon serves as Director and General Counsel. It is heavily funded by the Park Foundation, but was created and is also funded by the Rockefeller family (through the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Rockefeller Family Fund. Park funds it to “coordinate the broad movement of opposition to shale gas drilling in New York” including groups ranging from Artists Against Fracking, to Gas Free Seneca, to Water Defense to Coalition to Protect New York, to the publisher of “The Flowback.”

It also receives money from and collaborates with the Network for Good, Inc., which is the latest iteration of something called TechRocks, a Rockefeller entity with which Halfon was closely connected at the outset. TechRocks was absorbed into Groundspring.org with the help of Tides and Groundspring later became part of Network for Good. Round and round the money goes, but it’s always all the same people funded from the very same large pots of special interest money.

A look at the latest Sustainable Markets Foundation 990 return also reveal how the money is spent. As we’ve noted here many times, our friend Walter Hang of Toxics Targeting has received over $1 million for his fractivist advocacy. Walter, like Jay Halfon, came from the New York Public Interest Research Group (NY-PIRG) which has always done rain-making for trial lawyers, with which Halfon, by no coincidence, was also closely associated. Significantly, one of Halfon’s fellow officers at the Sustainable Markets Foundation is Elizabeth Hitchcock, who is Public Health Advocate for the US-PIRG. The Foundation’s return for 2012 indicates it gave Walter $297,213 that year for his fractivism, which doubles as PIRG rain-making.

The Sustainable Markets Foundation also funded Fenton Communications, Svengali to Josh Fox and Artists Against Fracking to the tune of $161,965 to do their dirty work. Another $195,000 went to Our Next Economy, LLC, which is really a fellow named John W. Passacantando. He is Bill Moyers’ former son-in-law and the former Executive Director of Greenpeace USA. The Park Foundation gave Moyers $500,000 last year – another non-coincidence. Still another $112,360 went to The Message Productions, LLC, which funded a documentary inspired by Naomi Klein’s leftist climate change screed “This Changes Everything” with the help of the Ford Foundation. (Isn’t it grand how these capitalist foes rely upon the Fords and Rockefellers?) Finally, $130,000 went to Tigercomm, LLC a PR firm that apparently represents the solar industry.

Jay Halfon is also a Director of 350.org, which is funded by both the Park Foundation and the Sustainable Markets Foundation. It was totally a Rockefeller creation, of course, and has been leading the divestment campaign and supporting radicals and fractivists such as Gas Free Seneca. It is the archetypical radical environmental group, funded by some of the richest people on earth with a phony puppet out front to make it all look like some sort of holy low-budget grass roots mission. Who can forget Bill McKibben pretending he didn’t know who his funders were in this video segment:

This is what we said in uncovering that gem:

Ask yourself, if you were a director of an outfit virtually synonymous with your name, that supposedly wasn’t very well funded and was started with the help of someone who continued to give you over half a million dollars annually, could you credibly claim not to know it? No, Bill McKibben is either a liar or the dumbest man in the environmental movement…did you note how McKibben, before he was forced to admit the Rockefeller role, says he thought the Rasmussen Foundation, out of Sweden, might be 350.org’s biggest funder? Well, then you may be surprised to learn the V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation is located in New York City, not Sweden, and it donated $75,000 to 350.org in 2011, less than 15% of the Rockefeller funding he couldn’t recall. Some memory. Perhaps he was confused, though, as the Rasmussen Foundation hired the Rockefeller Brothers Fund that year to help manage its own program. It’s all so hard to keep straight.

Where the Southern Tier’s Fate Was Decided: The Upper West Side 

This is the fractivist web Halfon has helped spin. It’s paid him well and given him an unparalleled network of connections. If WhitePages.com can be trusted, he lives at 215 W. 88th Street on the snooty Upper West Side of Manhattan in the Merrion Condominium where apartments sell for an average of $1,765,000 each or $1,715 per square foot. Want to buy or rent there? Contact his wife, Marci Halfon, who is a Multi-Million Dollar Club realtor for the complex.

Jay Halfon

Merrion Condominium Building

Marci also maintains a Twitter account and had an interesting reaction to Cuomo’s recent fracking decision:

Screen Shot 2015-01-17 at 10.23.47 AM

Yes, Marci knew precisely who was responsible for that Cuomo decision, the fractivist Rasputin, Jay Halfon, her husband.

Halfon also lives the good life of hobnobbing with the rich and famous who feather his nest and those of his trial lawyer allies. Here are some photos of him palling around with former Court of Appeals Judge John Cherundolo, State Senator John Bonacic and several other judges and legislators who could do him favors:

Judge Cherundolo and Jay Halfon

Judge Cherundolo and Jay Halfon

Senator John Bonacic and Jay Halfon

Senator John Bonacic and Jay Halfon

Yes, it would hard to find anyone better connected to the fractivist cause than Jay Halfon and he’s done exceedingly well at it. Here’s another picture of him celebrating at a Working Families Party “Gala” with Frack Action’s Renee Vogelsang and the Catskill Mountainkeeper’s Bette Broad. Isn’t it grand how these fractivists have no shame depicting themselves as if they spoke for working families at a trendy “gala”?

Jay Halfon

But, of course, it’s not so much a fractivist cause as a Park and Rockefeller cause and Halfon has succeeded in manipulating them and everyone else by his master puppeteering on several stages. He is the Rasputin behind the throne wherever fractivism erupts and has gotten away with it for years because it’s such a complex web of deceit that no major media sources even recognize it.

Indeed, most fractivists don’t know his name even though he directs them from behind – a true Rasputin who goes home to his $1,715 per square foot apartment on the Upper West Side every night while his friend Senator John Bonacic’s constituents in the Upper Delaware region, the real working families, wonder how the hell they’re going to pay the taxes to hold into the farm and put bread on the table without the natural gas development he just helped kill for now.

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25 thoughts on “Jay Halfon: The Fractivist Rasputin

  1. Pingback: Jay Halfon: The Fractivist Rasputin | ShaleNOW

  2. Would love to hear if there are connections to Canadian Antis RE Jim Emberger in New Brunswick. Ecology action center in Nova Scotia which has an anti fracing arm called No frac nova Scotia

  3. Tom, Nice layout of the funding. Being suspicious of Non-profits I discovered just the tip of this iceberg back in 2011, when a copy of “The flowback” arrived with my regular local paper. a simple search of the Sustainable markets foundation lead to the Rockefeller foundation and wealthy New York Trust funders. It only gets deeper.

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