Posted by: Barry Bickmore | February 17, 2012

Deniergate Breaks

This has been going on for a couple days, but I have been too swamped to write anything about it.  Here’s the scoop.  The indefatigable John Mashey has spent months tracking down documentation, and has put together a package of info showing that the Heartland Institute and a couple of related outfits, all 501(c)(3) charities, have been engaging in lobbying and other activities that 501(c)(3) organizations are not supposed to do by IRS regulations.  In case you don’t know the Heartland Institute, they put on a big climate contrarian conference every year, and for decades have been pushing pseudoscience to combat the scientific consensus that second-hand smoke causes health problems, and that humans are causing significant climate change.

Mere hours after Mashey sent his documentation to the IRS, an anonymous person dropped a bunch of purloined Heartland documents on the laps of a number of climate bloggers and reporters.  These documents confirm much of what Mashey found out by other means, but also name names and contain a few embarrassing turns of phrase.

My favorite articles on this so far are from Seth Borenstein at the AP and Suzanne Goldenberg at The Guardian.

Get popcorn.


  1. Um, it’s been about four days since these documents were leaked. So far it has garnered no traction with the public, the media has ignored it, some of the documents are fake, and by next week I would not be surprised if Desmogblog issues an apology to Heartland. This so called scandal has done alot of damage to the alarmist side. I think that summarizes roughly where we are after only four days.


    • It’s interesting to see how the “some documents” meme is already gaining traction, although Heartland so far only claims ONE is fake. Although they do their best to corroborate its content by attacking Peter Gleick…

      It’s also obvious klem only watches Fox News and reads the Wall Street Journal, as several big newspapers have already picked this up, even though most of it is not really “news”. We already knew Heartland was funding disinformation, we now merely have several people pointing out that their own documents suggest it violates charity rules.

      Also funny is Heartland’s demand journalists take material off, do proper research, and ask the people involved for confirmation…when they themselves had absolutely not qualms in deliberaty misinterpreting the UEA e-mails.

      But klem will not falter in his support for Heartland. It is so convenient to have an organisation that does the thinking for you, so you only need to repeat their memes…

  2. As they write on DeSmogBlog : “Joe Bast says the document is a fake, a statement we take with a grain of salt given the Heartland Institute’s previous dissembling on the subject of climate change and its discredited position on teh safety of second hand smoke. In the circumstances, if the Heartland Institute can offer any specific criticism of the Climate Strategy or any evidence that it was faked and not, actually, written on Joe Bast’s laptop, printed out and scanned, we would be pleased to consider that evidence.”

    Over to Heartland, but they might be too busy worrying about any forthcoming inquiry into their tax status !

  3. Popcorn’s OK.

    But you might have also advised a wholesale resetting of sensitivities for the world supply of irony meters and head vises.

    Some comments around teh intertubez are beyond farcical.

  4. Any idea who authored the fake memo?

    • I’m not convinced it’s fake. The reporter who wrote the AP story linked above corroborated all the factual statements in the document, so the only things at issue are a couple of statements with sort of dumb wording. I’m not particularly concerned about those–I think the violation of IRS rules is the more serious issue.

      The funny thing is that over at Lucia Liljegren’s blog, someone was even speculating that I AM THE ONE who authored the memo. Why? Because I use parentheses and abbreviations like “e.g.” That cracks me up.

      • It’s an attempt at sowing doubt, Barry. Peter Gleick has also been accused, including by someone from Heartland itself.

        • Seems for good reason.

          • Oi, look at that, Colin responds to a message I write.

            There still is a rather basic question for you to answer on another thread, where you decided to go play with “wow” instead:
            Comment from me January 27 at 12:49 am

            • Sorry, the previous post was an obvious fake. Apparently there is someone that has created a fake email address and then proceeded to impersonate me. I’m sure you will agree with me that this is all rather unethical.

            • Since we only have your word for it, and you’ve never managed to make a clear and clean statement yet, I’m sure we can all agree that you’re unethical.

            • Wow, I’m convinced you wouldn’t know a clear and clean statement if it banged you on the head. Also, I’m still unsure of who this “we” you speak on behalf of.

            • I know they’ve never appeared from you Colin.

              This is because I know what they are.

      • I think the real problem here is the IRS. We should dismantle the whole organization. Their rules are silly and incomprehensible.

  5. If this was a non-scandal, I think we would not have heard the shrieks of pain and anger from Heartland and its on-line clique.

    Even more damaging may be John Mashey’s report which causes serious damage to Heartland’s reputation. This is also on De Smog blog.

    As well as discouraging rich donors, Heartland may lose its tax emempt status. Donors will not be enthusiastic to find that Hearltand paid a guy over $100, 000 to write a “science” book that was thrashed by any real scientist who read it. The shenanigans of Fred Singer and his SEPP will not please the IRS.

  6. “As well as discouraging rich donors, Heartland may lose its tax emempt status. Donors will not be enthusiastic …”

    The biggie here for the ‘rich donors’ is that the tax deductibility of their donations will be in doubt for as long as Heartland’s tax exempt status is in doubt. And of course, they’ll vanish over the horizon in a flash if the tax exemption/deductibility status is cancelled.

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