By about a 10-to-1 margin, Sierra Club members rejected an attempt by anti-immigration forces to take over the environmental organization.
An organized effort to stack the Sierra Club's board of directors with anti-immigration extremists — with support from a number of white-supremacist groups — was soundly defeated this spring.
On April 21, officials of the nation's largest environmental group announced that a slate of anti-immigration candidates affiliated with a Club faction called Sierrans for U.S. Population Stabilization (SUSPS) had lost in a landslide.
The balloting culminated a long battle between traditional environmentalists and immigration opponents who saw the Sierra Club as an ideal venue for promoting their views. Intelligence Report editor Mark Potok first alerted Sierra Club officials to the takeover attempt in a letter last October.
In the build-up to the election, several hate groups called on their members to join the Sierra Club so they could vote for the three main anti-immigration candidates — former Colorado Gov. Richard Lamm, Cornell University entomologist David Pimentel and former Congressional Black Caucus Foundation administrator Frank Morris.
Those efforts only succeeded in stirring up Sierra Club stalwarts, who produced the largest voter turnout in the history of the group's national elections — even higher than 1998, when the group rejected another anti-immigration effort.
By about a 10-to-1 margin, the voters chose a slate of candidates endorsed by Groundswell Sierra, a rump group of club members that opposed the takeover.
This defeat did not end the battle for the Sierra Club — and other environmental organizations might be targeted next. A ballot measure that would make immigration control a major part of the Sierra Club's mission will be voted on next year.
In March, SUSPS co-founder Alan Kuper, who now runs another anti-immigration outfit called Comprehensive U.S. Population Stabilization, sent an e-mail to supporters suggesting they form a "Sustainability Coalition" to push the immigration issue in another highly respected environmental group, the League of Conservation Voters.