Heartland Mystery Donor to be Unmasked?

February 20, 2012


Controversial US think tank the Heartland Institute has sent legal letters to bloggers and writers who reported on the release of the leaked Heartland Institute documents last week.

The Heartland documents revealed the key donors for the institute, plans for a K-12 curriculum based on a climate science denier agenda and how much well-known climate science denialists are paid to push the anti-climate change agenda for Heartland.

Among the recipients of the threat letters, Desmogblog, a prominent pro-science blog that posted the original leaked material, remains defiant.  Crikey continues:

DeSmogBlog, which first published the leaked Heartlands document dump last week, is refusing to remove any of the documents or articles in question and said it will keep them in place as a matter of public interest.

“After due consideration, we could see no basis in fact or law for Heartland’s demand that we remove these documents,” wroteDeSmogBlog founding editor and well-known environment journalist Richard Littlemore.

Crikey spoke to the Vancouver-based Littlemore this morning. The legal letter is full of “logical inconsistencies at the very least”, Littlemore told Crikey.

“What they are saying is that we’re accusing you of theft but we can’t be sure that the stuff you have is stolen,” said Littlemore. “If the stuff is legitimate, then you can accuse someone of having stolen it. But if you can’t even satisfy yourself that the material is yours, then you’re certainly not in a very good position to tell anyone that they’ve stolen it.”

DeSmogBlog were sent the leaked documents after an individual pretended to work at Heartland and convinced the Institute to email them the allegedly confidential documents in full.

“If any of this turns out to be demonstrably incorrect then we will take that very seriously,” Littlemore told Crikey. “But in the meantime we look forward to reading and writing about the material.”

Greg Laden, a climate blogger at ScienceBlogs who also received the legal letter threat, agrees that the legal letter was confusing. Laden thought at first that the legal letter “looked like something some crazy denialist made up and sent me” since the  letter he received via email didn’t include his name in full (it’s Gregory), the title was wrong (he’s a doctor) and the address was wrong (he doesn’t live at the address or know anyone who does).

“As far as I can tell looking at it, no one I know who is a lawyer would retain staff who are as incompetent as those who wrote this letter,” said Laden.

How can Heartland seek action against a document it says is a fake? “They can’t take down a document they have nothing to do with,” said Laden. “If it’s made up and has nothing to do with Heartland, it would be difficult for them to argue that I should take it down off my website.”

But he sees the legal letter as a threat from Heartland against those who write about climate change and climate science. “It’s obvious to me Heartland is interested in making people who argue against their point of view quiet,” said Larden. “They want people to shut up.”

Crikey understands The New York Times will tomorrow reveal the identity of Heartland’s “Anonymous Donor”, an individual who has donated $13.7 million to the Heartland Institute since 2007 and at times has provided 60% of the institute’s funding.

12 Responses to “Heartland Mystery Donor to be Unmasked?”

  1. witsendnj Says:

    Ow Gawd, now I will be up all night waiting find out who it is!!!

    Heartland is their own worst enemy. The more they threaten people the more they promote coverage of the issue of climate change. Since the facts speak for themselves, it’s all good when people pay more attention to the issues, instead of feeling like they can safely ignore it.

    All I can say is, I WISH it had been me who had punked the Heartland!!

  2. […] Heartland Mystery Donor to be Unmasked? « Climate Denial Crock of the Week […]

  3. My money’s on Barre Seid.

  4. rpauli Says:

    Wait, can’t Andrew Revkin just call them up and ask?

    After all his NYTimes blog on Dot Earth will speak to the issue and the Heartland document says:

    “Efforts might also include cultivating more neutral voices with big audiences (such as Revkin at DotEarth/NYTimes, who has a well-known antipathy for some of the more extreme AGW communicators such as Romm, Trenberth, and Hansen)….”

    Surely Andy could learn the truth with a simple phone call.

  5. Peter Mizla Says:

    This should prove to be enlightening- the large Donor. Do they have any conscious? As for Andy Revkin, he is the new darling of the Heartland. Dubious distinction to say the least.

  6. ozonator Says:

    Hitler had Mussolini, maybe Heartland has Santorum –

    “ExxonMobil fined ‘record’ £2.8m over carbon dioxide emissions” (bbc.co.uk, 2/19/12).

    1st Heartland and now CO2 means lumpy Santorum will invade England (operation Sealion) after liberating Canada from being down wind from the US if he can steal the election.

  7. […] Heartland Mystery Donor to be Unmasked? (climatecrocks.com) […]

  8. jasonpettitt Says:

    Well this has all got a lot more interesting. And strange. And not least because the ‘faked’ policy memo has become all the more mysterious. It couldn’t have been written without knowing Heartland internal affairs.

    Untimely message to Peter ‘kamikaze’ Gleick though – Don’t lower yourself to their level, they’ve had a lot more practice at it.

    In the UK we have the Public Interest Disclosure Act, which would likely provide Gleick a fair defence in law against any repercussions as there are clear Public Interest issues at play (the Climate Issue, Education and, perhaps even more clearly, Wisconsin Act 10). I presume the US has something similar.

    Ultimately though – it’s probably more than about time that Think Tanks and other groups are required to be publicly transparent with their accounts if they receive Tax breaks as non-profit organisations. Gleick may have been foolish – but Heartland, if they’ve broken tax rules regarding political activity, remain the villain of this piece.

  9. Deep Climate Says:

    It’s 6:26 pm EDT on Tuesday (“tomorrow” relative to this post) and still no word of the NYT revealing the $13M+ donor.

    But a lot of folks have placed their bets already.

  10. ikners.com Says:

    […] Heartland Mystery Donor to be Unmasked? (climatecrocks.com) […]

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