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Hoist on Their Lying Petard


May 21, 2012 - Don't you just love it when justice prevails?  When right makes might?  When the perps get caught red-handed?  I know I do, and so it is with great, if inappropriate, glee that I inform you of a mass departure of both donors and staff from the Heartland Institute (HI).  The Unabomber billboard has proved to be their downfall, if not their undoing.  In fact, Heartland has lost more than 35% of pledged but uncollected funds for the year 2012, according to the campaign group Forecast the Facts.  In an admirable attempt at piling on, Forecast is urging corporate donors to boycott Heartland.

Not only have funds suddenly dried up, but staffers at Heartland's Washington, D.C. office have exited in disgust, putting an end to a major project overseen by Eli Lehrer, the former Washington office director.  Lehrer, who has himself resigned, lost all but one of his office staff in the billboard brouhaha.  As a result,
Heartland's much touted "climate conference," which opened today in Chicago, was forced to look for last-minute sponsors.  The Illinois Coal Association and the Heritage Foundation came to the Institute's rescue, thereby undermining Heartland's claim of independence from the fossil fuel industry.  Certainly a conflict of interest exists.

It's hard to imagine that Peter Gleick isn't smiling - at least a little bit - at this latest news regarding HI.  You may recall that, back in February, Gleick admitted to obtaining internal Heartland documents by posing as a board member of the Institute over the phone.  The documents supplied to Gleick by means of the subterfuge included a list of donors, and plans being developed for the purpose of confusing school children about climate change.  Donors value their anonymity, and a number of them resigned, following the revelation.  General Motors was undoubtedly the most prominent.  Due to the ethically suspect manner in which Gleick went about obtaining the documents, he suffered professional and personal embarrassment when disclosing the information.

Gleick's problems were compounded when HI insisted that two pages of the material in his possession had been forged.  Dr. Gleick temporarily stepped aside from his job as head of the Pacific Institute, a research organization he founded, so that the charge could be investigated.  Results of the investigation, exonerating Dr. Gleick of all charges of forgery, were made known earlier today.  It is not yet known when he will return to work at the Pacific Institute.

The Heartland Institute has unwittingly made itself a known quantity.  By revealing only a passing acquaintance with decency, by operating in so opaque a manner that even its donors and directors were unaware of the underhanded methods it employs, and by lying about documents it authored but of which it was ashamed, the Heartland Institute has shown itself to be a climate denial representative with which only the right-wing fringe will choose to consort.

It's a great day for Truth.

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