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Background on Fakegate

by Jim Lakely on May 25, 2012

1.  What is Fakegate?

On February 14, 2012, an environmental activist named Peter Gleick sent to liberal activists and sympathetic journalists several documents he stole from The Heartland Institute, along with a fake memo he claimed was also from Heartland. On February 20, Gleick confessed to stealing the documents but claimed to have received the fake memo “in the mail” from an anonymous source.

The fake memo, titled “January 2012 Confidential Memo: 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy,” is a mixture of text copied and pasted from the stolen documents and original commentary by the forger. By distorting and misrepresenting the plans set forth in the stolen documents, the fake memo paints a false and disturbing picture of Heartland’s motives and tactics.

2.  What did the stolen documents reveal?

The budget document revealed that Heartland has a broad base of support – about 1,800 donors – and expects to raise about $7.7 million in 2012. It presents confidential personnel information including reasons for termination of former employees and salaries. It also lists scientists we work with to produce Climate Change Reconsidered, a series of reports presenting an alternative perspective to the United Nations’ IPCC reports.

The fundraising plan identifies some of the donors to The Heartland Institute during the past two years and our estimate of how much they would contribute in 2012. It also describes a series of new programs, including four on climate change, for which we plan to fundraise. Are all well within our charitable mission of “discovering, developing, and promoting free-market solutions to social and economic problems.”

Another stolen document reveals contact information for members of Heartland’s Board of Directors, including home addresses for some Directors.

Three things the stolen documents do not reveal are substantial funding from the fossil fuel industry for our work on climate change, substantial funding from David or Charles Koch or Koch Industries, and anything other than a sincere and professional effort to advance the organization’s tax-exempt mission.

3.  How do you know the “climate strategy” memo is fake?

We know the memo is a forgery for four reasons:

  • The memo contains numerous errors of fact and interpretation that no one at Heartland would have made. Significantly, every error in the fake memo has the effect of casting Heartland’s fundraising and education efforts in a negative light.
  • Juola & Associates, the country’s leading provider of expert analysis and testimony in the field of text and authorship, studied the document and concluded Gleick is the most likely author. So have many other independent scholars.
  • A thorough forensic analysis of Heartland’s computers (and those owned by Heartland’s president and his spouse) by Protek International concludes “the Memo was not created on Heartland’s computer systems and never existed there, or within Heartland’s email systems, prior to its posting online on February 14, 2012.”
  •   The memo references only the documents that were stolen by Gleick. Except for Board members, no one except Gleick had access to all of the documents cited in the memo.

4.  What does the fake “climate strategy” memo say?

The memo contains several false statements about The Heartland Institute’s work on climate change. Following is our refutation of some of the most damaging claims:

  • The Charles G. Koch Foundation does not fund our climate change efforts and did not contribute $200,000 to us in 2011. The foundation has issued a statement confirming that its 2011 gift of $25,000 – its first to Heartland in ten years – was earmarked for our work on health care reform, not climate.
  • “[D]issuading teachers from teaching science” is not and never has been our goal. As the “Fundraising Plan” clearly states, we are working with a highly qualified and respected expert to create educational material on global warming suitable for K-12 students that isn’t alarmist or overtly political. We don’t believe this should be controversial.
  • We do not seek to “undermine the official United Nation’s [sic] IPCC reports.” We have openly and repeatedly shown that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s reports are not peer reviewed in any meaningful sense, exaggerate the certainty of scientific understanding and forecasting abilities, and are written and promoted to serve political rather than scientific objectives. We have produced two highly regarded volumes of scientific research, part of a series titled Climate Change Reconsidered, showing how peer-reviewed science rebuts many of the IPCC’s claims.
  • We do not pay scientists or their organizations to “counter” anyone else in the international debate over climate change. We pay them to help write the Climate Change Reconsidered reports, in the same way as any other “think tank” or scientific organization pays the authors of its publications.
  • We do not try to “keep opposing voices out” of forums, such as Forbes.com, where climate policy has been debated. The truth is just the opposite: We send Heartland spokespersons to debate other experts at fora all across the country and invite persons who disagree with us to speak at our own events. In fact, we invited Peter Gleick to debate a Heartland expert on climate change at our upcoming annual benefit dinner and he turned us down.

5.  How does Fakegate compare with Climategate?

Fakegate invites comparison with Climategate, the unauthorized release of emails from the University of East Anglia in 2009 and again in 2011. Both scandals reveal how desperate and delusional the leading figures in the global warming movement are. If you are confident that you are right, you don’t steal documents and try to undermine other organizations.

Groups on the left claim The Heartland Institute, which reported frequently on the Climategate story, is being hypocritical now when it denounces the theft of its documents and calls on journalists to stop assuming the fake memo is authentic. But the “hypocrisy” charge is easily answered:

  • The Climategate documents show a pattern of misbehavior – trying to suppress debate, destroying data, fudging research findings – while the documents stolen from Heartland actually vindicate the organization from claims that it is a “front group” for the fossil fuel industry.
  • None of the Climategate documents were fake. One of the Fakegate documents was fake.
  •  The documents in the Climategate scandal were leaked, not stolen. Apparently, no crime was committed. Our documents were clearly stolen, and the culprit, Peter Gleick, has confessed.
  • The Climategate documents were apparently being stored to respond to FOIA requests that the University of East Anglia had been stonewalling. The university is a government agency and subject to FOIA; The Heartland Institute is a private nonprofit organization, and is not.

So where Climategate and Fakegate are similar, they reveal the dishonesty and basic moral corruption of the global warming movement. Where they differ, they justify The Heartland Institute taking legal action against Peter Gleick and his co-conspirators.

6.  Where does Fakegate stand today?

Environmental groups are using false statements contained in the fake memo and the list of donors in the stolen fundraising document to demand that our corporate donors stop funding us. Since many of our donors give to support our work on topics other than climate change – school reform, health care policy, insurance regulation, and others – they should not be exposed to this kind of harassment.

Similarly, Greenpeace is using the fake memo and the list of scientists in the stolen budget document to demand that universities discipline or fire the climate scientists who work with Heartland. This is an outrageous attack on free and open debate, yet it is being cheered on by many reporters and other environmental activists.

Environmental groups and their allies in the mainstream media still refuse to remove the stolen and fake documents from their Web sites or to issue retractions of editorials and news stories that assumed the authenticity of the fake memo, despite our repeated requests that they do so. This is a clear violation of journalistic ethics.

The Heartland Institute has assembled a top-notch legal team and is asking the government to pursue criminal charges against Peter Gleick and his accomplices, as well as preparing to file civil suits against Gleick and his accomplices on behalf of Heartland and the scientists who have come under attack because of his actions.

7.  What is The Heartland Institute?

The Heartland Institute is a national, nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization with offices in Chicago and Washington, DC.  The Heartland Institute was founded in 1984. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems.

Three things make Heartland unique among free-market think tanks:

  • State and local elected officials nationwide are our primary audiences. We are in frequent contact with some 7,300 state elected officials and more than 8,400 county and local officials.
  • We promote the best work of other free-market think tanks on our Web sites, in our newspapers, at our events, and through our extensive government relations and media relations efforts.

Expertise: Approximately 140 academics and professional economists participate in Heartland’s peer review process as policy advisors and 213 elected officials serve on its Legislative Forum. Fourteen senior fellows are available to write, speak, or comment in depth on a wide range of policy issues.

Media Relations: We send out a constant stream of op-eds, news releases, letters to the editor, podcasts, and much more. In 2011, we contacted journalists more than 410,484 times and appeared in print and on television or radio 1,093 times.

Online: We are leaders in online communication and grassroots organizing, generating nearly 2 million page views and 1.3 million visitors on 16 Web sites and blogs in 2011. Our Facebook page has nearly than 54,000 fans, and registers approximately 75,000 impressions every week.

Credibility and Influence: Our 28 years producing solid research and educational materials and repeated communications with state legislators have made Heartland a credible, independent, “go-to” source for thousands of elected officials and other opinion leaders. A 2011 survey by Victory Enterprises of 500 randomly selected public officials found 79 percent of state legislators and 66 percent of local elected officials read at least one of our publications, and almost half of state legislators say a Heartland publication changed their mind or led to a change in public policy.

Bipartisan: The Heartland Institute’s influence is not limited to a single political party. The Victory Enterprises survey showed strong across-the-aisle appeal as well. Approximately 73 percent of state Democratic legislators said they read at least one Heartland publication sometimes or always, 64 percent of these legislators said they consider one or more publications a useful source of information, and 38 percent said a Heartland publication influenced their opinions or led to a change in public policy.

Besides its monthly public policy newspapers, Heartland publishes books, policy studies, booklets, and other publications and produces videos, podcasts, and other online features.

Heartland’s 13-member Board of Directors is chaired by Dr. Herbert Walberg, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and research professor emeritus of psychology and education at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Heartland’s 2012 annual budget is $7.0 million. It has a full-time staff of 41. Funds come from approximately 1,800 individuals, corporations, and foundations. No corporate donor contributes more than 5 percent of Heartland’s annual budget. Contributions are tax-deductible under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

8.  What is Heartland’s position on climate change?

Heartland’s researchers acknowledge, as do most scientists, that the Earth experienced a rise in temperatures during the second half of the twentieth century, that human activities may have played a role in that increase, and that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas.

Heartland disagrees with three claims made by many environmental groups: That most of the warming of the twentieth century can be attributed to anthropogenic causes, that computer models are sufficiently reliable to forecast future climate conditions, and that a continued moderate warming would be harmful to humanity or the natural world.

Heartland’s position is supported by many of the world’s leading climate scientists, and many (possibly most) scientists in the United States. We are not “on the fringe” or “anti-climate science.” We are expressing a perspective that is very mainstream, even if it is not what liberal environmentalists and reporters believe.

9.  What is Heartland doing on climate change?

We produce more research and commentary on climate change than any other free-market think tank in the world. We have distributed millions of books, booklets, videos, and other educational products to opinion leaders in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Britain, and other parts of the world.

We report on the climate change debate every month in Environment & Climate News, a publication sent to every national, state, and most local elected officials in the U.S. We fund the writing and publication of the reports of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), including two volumes in a series titled Climate Change Reconsidered totaling more than 1,200 pages and citing thousands of peer-reviewed scientific articles.

We have hosted six International Conferences on Climate Change (ICCC), attracting nearly 3,000 scientists, policy experts, and policymakers from around the world. We plan at least one and possibly two ICCCs in 2012.

During 2012, we plan to undertake nearly a dozen projects specifically addressing climate change. An updated proposal is available to donors and potential donors.

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For more information about The Heartland Institute visit Heartland.org or contact Jim Lakely, communications director, at jlakely@heartland.org.

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