Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge in Colorado



2006: Hitting its stride, reaching ever higher

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Martha Marks listen as State Senator Tom Harman speaks.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Martha Marks listen as State Senator Tom Harman speaks. The senator, an enthusiastic REP member, hosted the event in his back yard.

In 2006, REP continued reaching out to high-level political figures at the state level.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger speaks as Martha Marks and other REP members listen.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger speaks as Brad Torgan and Martha listen.

Buddy Burke, a leader of the California Chapter, scored a major win: an hour-long private meeting for himself, Martha Marks, and two other REP members — State Sen. Tom Harman and Assemblyman Greg Aghazarian — with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in his office at the state capitol in Sacramento.

It’s worth noting that at that time, Schwarzenegger was one of the brightest-green lights in the Republican world. Both national REP and the state chapter were proud to build a strong working relationship with him.

As a result of that meeting, the famous “governator” later accepted an invitation to a chapter barbeque hosted by Senator Tom Harman and his wife. Only a few REP members were allowed to attend, due to a limit from the security staff. One of them was Schwarzenegger’s own high-level appointee, California Director of Conservation Bridgett Luther.

Several people made remarks, including Senator Harman, Governor Schwarzenegger, and Martha, who said this: Thank you, Gov. Schwarzenegger. (See one more photo from this event toward the bottom of the “GREENING UP” THE GOP page of this website.)

Several of the REP members who attended their chapter's barbeque posed with Governor Schwarzenegger before he departed.

The REP members who attended their chapter’s barbeque posed with Governor Schwarzenegger. Left to right: Mike Savino, Holly Burke (representing her husband, Chapter President Buddy Burke), Martha Marks, Governor Schwarzenegger, Patricia Callan-McKinney, Senator Tom Harman, Dianne Harman, REP Board member Bill McLaughlin, and California Director of Conservation Bridgett Luther.


Two other important things happened in 2006.

After helping build REP's Michigan Chapter, Rob Sisson joined the staff as Membership and Development Director in 2006 and became President three years later.

After helping build REP’s Michigan Chapter, Rob Sisson joined the staff as membership and development director early in 2006 and became president three years later.

1. REP hired Rob Sisson, a former banker and mayor who had been a major force in building the Michigan Chapter, to serve as membership and development director. (Rob would go on to replace Martha as president after she retired at the end of 2008.)

2. REP began publishing an annual scorecard to rate the environmental and conservation votes of GOP Members of Congress. The REP Scorecard was unique in that it only rated Republicans, which allowed for an apples-to-apples comparison. It also only evaluated actual environmental and conservation votes, not votes that were only indirectly related to those issues.

2007 REP ScorecardPredictably, the Green GOP office-holders who received high marks loved it and bragged about it: 

Predictably, others who received low marks hated it and complained that REP had somehow fallen under the influence of liberal evildoers. (See the quotation below from Rob Sisson’s 2014 interview with NPR.)

More important, over the three years that the REP Scorecard was published, it brought the Republican Party a truly “fair and balanced” approach to environmental accountability for the first time ever… because they were being compared to one another, not to Democrats.

CLICK HERE if you’d like to inspect the actual 2006 REP Scorecard, which is still available in its entirety on the internet. Those who never saw one of our Scorecards before can judge if they were professionally and accurately researched and produced.


Policy Director Jim DiPeso‘s great work continued with op-eds…

State leaders who were REP members increasingly spoke up as such, too, during this time. Here’s one outstanding example:

State Representative Toby Nixon proudly identified himself as a member of REP’s Washington Chapter Executive Committee when he gave this address to the Kirkland (WA) Chamber of Commerce in September 2006.

Demand grew for Government Affairs Director Dave Jenkins’ own fine speeches:

REP’s new Membership and Development Director Rob Sisson joined the speaking circuit, too: Climate Crisis Action Day (Washington, DC)

And President Martha Marks kept doing what she had been doing all along… seeking out new allies and making new friends for REP:

Tennessee REP Coordinator Bob August (center) with two young Republican leaders at Vanderbilt University.

Tennessee REP Coordinator Bob August with two Young Republicans at Vanderbilt. All three had attended Martha’s A Time for Statesmen speech. (NOTE: B&W photos on this site were scanned from The Green Elephant.)

By the end of 2006, REP had grown into a political force. It had built up a base of credible, enthusiastic, and generous “Green GOP” members and proved itself capable of challenging the powerful, well-funded, anti-environmental, and anti-conservation special interests within the Republican Party.

And  so — as its first decade-plus drew to a close — REP’s national and state leaders and the REP staff had every reason to look forward to another exceptional decade of progress.


 Congressman Jim Saxton (R, NJ) accepts REP's

In 2007, Congressman Jim Saxton (R, NJ) accepts REP’s “Greenest Republican in Congress” award for 2006 from Martha Marks at a press conference in a nature preserve in his district. The event was well covered by the local media.

2007-2008: Pushing on, slamming into the Great Recession

Florida Governor Jeb Bush accepts from Florida REP Chapter President Sean Parks an award for his efforts on behalf of the Everglades.

Florida Governor Jeb Bush accepts from Florida REP Chapter President Sean Parks an award for his efforts on behalf of the Everglades. (NOTE: B&W photos on this site were scanned from The Green Elephant.)

Florida REP Chapter President gives the chapter's award to County Commissioner Jon Thaxton, who is also a REP member.

Florida REP Chapter President Sean Parks gives the chapter’s award to County Commissioner Jon Thaxton, a fellow REP member.

Throughout 2007, nobody knew what we were facing, just that resources were suddenly harder to come by. Still, even as REP struggled into 2008, along with the rest of America, its board and staff kept promoting good legislation, opposing bad bills, and recognizing the best Republican elected officials at all levels: national, state, and local.

As shown in the photo at left, Congressman Jim Saxton clearly welcomed the “Greenest Republican in Congress” award that he received that spring for the previous year. Four REP members — Dr. Louis Harris, Doug Cowan, Michael Cahill, and Rick Kline — showed up to congratulate their representative and celebrate his achievement.

And Governor Jeb Bush also happily accepted an award from Florida Chapter President Sean Parks for his efforts to restore the Everglades. Sean bestowed another chapter award on Sarasota County Commissioner Jon Thaxton, who was himself a REP member. (And if anybody doubts the integrity of these awards, check out this local article about Jon Thaxton.)

REP also continued sounding its warning about the related problems of energy security and climate change… which in those days was still widely known as “global warming.” And throughout the increasingly difficult period of 2007-2008, REP members kept on speaking up, taking strong public positions on those key issues and others… while showing how right REP was to call itself a “grassroots organization.”

REP Director Tweeti Blancett is an activist Republican rancher from the northwest corner of New Mexico

A well-known environmental-activist Republican rancher from the northwest corner of New Mexico, Tweeti Blancett was elected to the REP board in 2006.

Attorney Jim Stuhltrager brought much-needed legal expertise as a member of REP's Board of Directors.

Environmental attorney Jim Stuhltrager brought much-needed legal expertise as a member of REP’s Board, following his 2006 election. In the photo, he’s measuring a crab caught in the Chesapeake Bay to make sure it’s legal to keep and eat.

Attendees at REP's 2007 Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Texas

Senator John McCain reacts to REP President Martha Marks' second-time-around endorsement.PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: 2007-2008

In October of 2007, at its Republican Environmental Leadership Conference (photo above) in San Antonio, REP’s board again voted to endorse Senator John McCain for president, just as it had in 2000 before the GOP primaries.

The main reason for that endorsement was that McCain was the only Republican candidate for president who had ever even talked about the obviously growing climate crisis, much less shown a willingness to fight it. (Sadly, as of this writing in 2020, that statement is still true.) And the REP board also knew that — throughout their relationship, all the way back to January 2000 — McCain had turned to REP several times for trusted advice on environmental issues. So backing his candidacy was the right thing to do.

Almost immediately after receiving the news of that endorsement, the campaign asked Martha to join the McCains in Concord, New Hampshire for a press conference, which she did. (NOTE: B&W photos on this site were scanned from The Green Elephant.)

REP Director Ted Leach (a former state representative) and his wife, Beverly, graciously hosted Martha in their home and escorted her to various events, including the press conference where she gave this statement endorsing McCain for the second time.

New Hampshire REP members gather for a photo with Senator John McCain in October 2007.

New Hampshire REP members gather for a photo with Senator John McCain in October 2007. From the left: former State Sen. Richard Russman, Will Abbott, Senator McCain, Martha Marks, former State Rep. and REP Director Ted Leach (in back), John Lumbard, Dr. Ann Schulz, Jim O’Brien (behind her), and Jameson French. Martha had met Senator Russman and Mr. French early in 1996, when she made her first promo trip for REP. They were still members after almost 12 years.

That evening, McCain introduced Ted and Martha to the crowd at a town hall meeting, expressed his thanks for REP’s second-time-around endorsement, and encouraged members of the audience to join REP. Several of them did on the spot. John and Cindy McCain enjoy a casual outing in the Everglades with REP's Martha Marks in the spring of 2008.

That fall, Jim DiPeso wrote Why we endorsed Senator John McCain for The Green Elephant.

In the spring of 2008, during the primary season, the McCain campaign invited Martha to join John and Cindy McCain for a small-group airboat tour of Everglades National Park. The campaign had arranged the visit to highlight their candidate’s long-time support for protecting the great marsh. Martha accepted and enjoyed her 4th round of campaign activities with the McCains.

First Selectman Woody Bliss of Weston, CT, REP's Connecticut Coordinator, hoists a REP-branded sign for McCain at a rally in his town.

First Selectman Woody Bliss of Weston, REP’s Connecticut Coordinator, hoists a REP-branded sign for McCain at a rally in his town.

That same spring, as if to further justify REP’s endorsement, McCain gave these two fine speeches:

And at McCain rallies around the country, members like REP’s Connecticut coordinator, First Selectman Woody Bliss, proudly hoisted REP-branded campaign signs.

That September, three of REP’s staff — Jim DiPeso, Dave Jenkins, and Rob Sisson — along with both its long-time board chair, Martha Marks, and its future board chair, Tina Beattie, attended the GOP convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. It was the first time that any of them had ever been present at such an event. Minnesota Coordinator Brian Davis and his wife Marilyn graciously hosted Martha in their home for five nights and also provided superb on-the-ground logistical help to the whole REP team.

Former New Jersey Governor and EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman gave the keynote address at REP's 2005

Christine Todd Whitman

Thanks to the generous special gifts of dozens of REP members across the country, REP had the wherewithal not only to send all its staff to the convention but also to have a booth and host a reception that was widely advertised as open to anyone who wanted to learn more about REP. Food and drink, plus a rare appearance and speech by Theodore Roosevelt IV, a long-time supporter and lifetime member of REP, attracted a crowd and new members.

Martha spoke on It’s easy being green — and Republican! as a panelist on an energy session at the moderate-Republican Tuesday Group’s day-long forum. Former EPA Administrator and New Jersey Governor and REP Honorary Board Member Christine Todd Whitman also appeared on the dais with Martha.

Other REP members who attended the convention as delegates were Director Bill McLaughlin (CA), Director-elect Senator Sean Kean (NJ), Director-elect Bill Graham (IL), Edward Bertorelli (MA), Patrick Mara (DC), David Burge (GA), and former Congressman Rob Simmons (CT).

A week later, at REP’s instigation, Ted Roosevelt flew from New York to Virginia specifically to record a video about conservation, environmental protection, and John McCain. The McCain campaign expressed their delight at having that video for its website, and also how impressed they were that REP was able to persuade Ted to record it.

REP stepped up to the plate with networking assistance, too.

At McCain’s request, Martha recruited this stellar lineup of nationally known Republican environmental and conservation leaders to form his ENVIRONMENTAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE.

  • Former Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (NY)
  • State Senator John Courson (SC)
  • Mary Gade (IL)
  • Robert Grady (CA and WY)
  • State Senator Tom Harman (CA)
  • Tom Kiernan (VA)
  • Former State Rep. Edward R. “Ted” Leach (NH)
  • Hunter Lovins (CO)
  • Dr. Terry Maple (GA)
  • Nathaniel P. Reed (FL)
  • Former EPA Admin. William K. Reilly (CA)
  • Theodore Roosevelt IV (NY)
  • Andrew Sabin (NY)
  • Dr. Andrew Sansom (TX)
  • Former F&W Director John Turner (WY)

Furthermore, REP’s Government Affairs Director David Jenkins and Arizona Coordinator (and future board chair) Tina Beattie volunteered to serve as co-chairs of the McCain campaign’s superb ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP COALITION.

Tina and Dave recruited a fine team of grassroots leaders in 22 states, almost all REP members:

ALASKA  Joe Geldhof

ARIZONA  Tina Beattie, co-chair

CALIFORNIA  Buddy Burke and Virginia Chang Kiraly

COLORADO  Stephen Bonowski

FLORIDA  Melissa Iglesias, Peggy Simone, and Dr. Jim Whitman

ILLINOIS  Steve Langley

MARYLAND  Cheryl Wilhelm

MICHIGAN  Mike Gillman, Susan McGillicuddy, and Rob Sisson

MINNESOTA  Brian H. Davis

MISSOURI  Roy Gerdel


NEW HAMPSHIRE  Edward R. “Ted” Leach

NEW MEXICO  Scott MacCurdy, Bill Wiley, and Philip Young

NEW YORK  Bob Adamski, Joe Habib, Gregory Morris, and Dave Scorbati

NORTH CAROLINA  Jason Gillespie


SOUTH CAROLINA  Chester Sansbury


TEXAS  Pam Ragon

UTAH  Philip Carlson

VIRGINIA  David Jenkins, co-chair

WASHINGTON  Ed Bustamante, Jim DiPeso, and Michael Vaska

Three Utah REP members table for REP at the Utah GOP conventionIn 2008, those achievements and REP’s reliably enthusiastic members kept the organization visible and growing, thanks to individual efforts like those by Utah coordinators Philip and Sarah Carlson, Arizona Coordinator Tina Beattie, along with the friends they recruited and many others elsewhere.

But even so, during that first full year of the Great Recession, it became increasingly difficult for Martha, even with Rob’s help, to sustain REP’s funding. During the hard economic times that year and the years that followed, much of REP’s financial support, from both grassroots and major donors alike, dried up. For the first time, it became difficult to pay the existing five-person staff, much less the superbly qualified new political director hired in January 2007 to help save the remaining moderate Republicans in Congress… only to watch the promised financial support for that position evaporate six months later.

Throughout REP’s history, Martha — its co-founder and decade-long president — had always been an unpaid volunteer, so there was nothing she could give up to keep the rest of the operation going. Plus… she was tired. Burned out. After fourteen years of building and leading the organization, she needed a break.

Arizona REP members Andy Woodward, Tina Beattie, Donna Menner, and Kathy Roediger attend Environmental Day at their state legislature.

Arizona REP members Andy Woodward, State Coordinator (and future Board Chair) Tina Beattie, Donna Menner, and Kathy Roediger (who had been one of REP’s first directors in the late ’90s) attend Environmental Day at their state legislature. (NOTE: B&W photos on this site were scanned from The Green Elephant.)

So a month after the convention, at REP’s annual meeting and at Martha’s request, the board divided the unpaid “job” that she had been doing since 1996 into two distinct parts: board chair and staff president. She would continue as board chair for a while longer, as a transition to Tina Beattie’s assumption of that role, and Rob Sisson would take over president at the start of 2009. Read Martha’s lead article in the winter 2008-2009 Green Elephant, announcing those important changes.

How that presidential election of 2008 turned out is history now. Senator McCain showed his class — and made REP proud — by giving one of the most gracious concession speeches in American history.

Unfortunately, John McCain was not the only REP-backed candidate who lost in that wave election. Several key GOP environmental and conservation champions in Congress also lost their seats, as others had in 2006. It seemed at the time that the traditional Republican Party was crashing and burning in front of REP’s eyes… which in hindsight turned out to be exactly what happened.

Soon after the election, Washington State’s Secretary of State Sam Reed, a REP member, published in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer an op-ed entitled GOP must be the change it wants to see. While he never mentioned REP in the piece, his words reminding the GOP that it was the party of Theodore Roosevelt and urging it to “be green” were a clear tip of the hat toward our philosophy.

Businessman Bill McLaughlin was a long-time REP member in California before he was elected to the Board of Directors.

Businessman Bill McLaughlin was a long-time REP member in California before he was elected to the Board of Directors.

In 2009, the loud, angry, and well-funded (by the billionaire oil-and-gas moguls Charles and David Kochs and other special interests) Tea Party arose out of nowhere. It alienated the traditional moderate and moderately conservative Republicans who had supported REP and sucked the air out of Republican politics. In the years that followed, the GOP took a hard turn to the right.

Martha Marks had retired at the end of 2008. Staff members Ruth Fish and Larry Kanz left for other endeavors.

But REP’s board members, remaining staff, and members across the country continued spreading REP’s message:


  • Vice President for Government and Political Affairs David Jenkins gave Pollution, Politics, and the GOP at the annual conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists in Miami on October 2011.
  • Vice President for Policy and Communications Jim DiPeso presented A Conservative Climate Stewardship Plan at the Pacific Northwest Carbon Pricing Conference at the University of Washington in Seattle, May 2011.
  • President Rob Sisson delivered Yet, Congress has failed to act at a National Wildlife Federation event near the Kalamazoo River oil spill, July 2010.
  • Jim DiPeso spoke on Republicans should get into the game to the King County Republican District Chairmen, Bellevue, Washington, August 2009.
  • REP Director Pam Ragon, who was also president of the Texas Chapter, spoke on Conservatism and Energy Policy at Re-Energize Texas Summit, Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, March 2009.
  • REP Director Bill McLaughlin spoke on Climate Change at the Santa Ana River Watershed Conference in Ontario, California, January 2009. (He previously had written The proper size of a Cocker Spaniel, cleverly addressing the climate issue, for the summer 2006 issue of The Green Elephant.)

Between 2010-2013, REP struggled to survive financially and underwent many changes.

Newer board members changed its name from “Republicans for Environmental Protection” to “ConservAmerica” which previously had been the name of REP’s 501(c)(3) “sister” foundation.

In February 2012, Board Chair Tina Beattie explained the name change this way on the website of another organization:

Our name – Republicans for Environmental Protection (which incidentally is exactly what we are), had become a barrier for us. The very word environmental was cutting us off from our intended audience, Republicans. The E word closed minds to our message that the GOP has a rich legacy of conservation, and in building market-based solutions to environmental problems.


We hope our new name, ConservAmerica, conveys all that we are. Conserv–Conservatives who are for conservation and stewardship of our natural resources. America–this beautiful land, here and now, and for future generations, because we owe to them to responsibly and prudently pass down a landscape in better shape than we received it. We must work not only to pass along a robust economy, but also open spaces, clean water and air.

Along with the name, the new directors changed REP’s bylaws, mission, and methods. No longer were directors elected by the members.

They dropped the emphasis on grassroots engagement and turned their backs on REP’s official state chapters and other active non-chapter state groups. State leaders were not notified of the changes. To them, the organization just seemed to disappear.

They stopped publishing The Green Elephant, the C.E.P. Quarterly, and the REP Scorecard.

Instead of annual conferences in places with active clusters of REP members, they began hosting an annual “Theodore Roosevelt Dinner” in Washington, D.C.

In 2014, Dave Jenkins took his talents to REP’s “sister” — newly renamed as Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship (CRS) — and wound up as its very successful president. (See the section below.)

Jim DiPeso left for another nonprofit and is no longer affiliated in any way with this movement… to our great loss. Fortunately, his great legacy endures on many pages of this website.

Eventually, Rob Sisson left, too — after years of struggling to keep things on track — when he received a presidential appointment to the International Joint Commission.

At some point, yet another group of board members took the organization in yet another direction.

That legal 501(c)(4) entity — which Aurie, Kim, Martha, Sam, Jim, and many others created in 1995-96 and dedicated themselves to building over the next 15 years — still exists, but almost nothing recognizable remains of the organization that once proudly called itself “Republicans for Environmental Protection.”

For years after REP vanished from the scene, people who once had been REP members — including many who persisted in calling themselves “Republicans for Environmental Protection” — reached out to Martha with a simple question that never varied: Whatever happened to REP?

Finally, Martha created a PDF that was easy to email back in answer to that question. Click the link above to download her two-page PDF response.

2014 to the present: Focusing on education and policy

Over time, the people behind the original Republicans for Environmental Protection movement shifted their focus away from political engagement toward the education and policy arena.

By 2014, REP’s non-political, non-partisan, non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable “sister” foundation Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship (CRS) — previously known as ConservAmerica — had begun stepping up to fill the void left by REP’s departure from the scene.

Three REP leaders — Martha Marks, Jim DiPeso, and Chester Sansbury — had founded CRS in 1999, so they rejoiced now at its more prominent role. And both Martha and Chester were still on the CRS board. Martha continues serving there as of this writing in 2020.

That year, CRS’s Board of Directors brought in a new president, David Jenkins, who had served as REP’s Vice President for Government Affairs and in 2005 had proved so effective in rallying Republican votes in the House of Representatives to save the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

In the years since then, Dave has developed sound policy strategies and reliable sources of funding. CRS has grown steadily under his leadership. In the last two or three years, it has emerged as a powerful conservative voice for smart conservation policies and initiatives. It seeks workable solutions to our most pressing environmental problems. Targets the climate crisis. Tackles air and water pollution. Addresses threats to America’s public lands and native wildlife. Dave points out that CRS is “putting the conserve back in conservative,” which is an excellent way to say it.

Several people who launched this movement or joined it later remained actively involved with CRS, even after REP went away. They kept advocating for effective pro-environmental policies and natural resource conservation from a traditional Republican perspective or from a traditional conservative perspective. (Those two things are similar but not necessarily the same.)

To offer a few recent examples:

Each of these op-eds was strategically written and placed in key newspapers as part of CRS’s educational projects in Oregon, New Mexico, and Arizona.

2020: Reviving REP’s website

It had been a decade since the original Republicans for Environmental Protection organization began to fade away.
REP logo

Meanwhile, the Republican Party was moving as far from its traditional roots as one could imagine. The terms “natural resource conservation” and “environmental protection” were barely in its vocabulary.

As a result, in the summer of 2020, some of the same individuals who had created REP in 1995-1996 or joined soon after resolved to keep its history and message alive by creating this website.

If in the future the Republican Party ever decides that it’s ready to get serious about conservation and pro-environmental policy again, REP will happily return to advocate for the Earth and its beings.


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Photo at top: Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge in Colorado (photo © Martha Marks)