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The Heartland Institute responded on Wednesday to an apparent leak of confidential documents that contained lists of high-profile donors and details of future projects to discredit climate change in public schools, saying in a statement that the documents were "stolen" and that at least one was a "total fake."
While the free-market think tank said that it could not confirm the authenticity of any of the documents, it singled out one, a two-page document headlined "Confidential Memo: Heartland Climate Strategy," as completely fraudulent and urged media outlets not to report on any of the leaked documents.
The Guardian, however, notes that the memo in question largely repeats information contained in the other documents, and the New York Times, likewise, points out that the group is "known for attacking climate science." The Guardian also reports that some of the documents contained details on future projects such as a $100,000 campaign to "dissuade teachers from teaching science.”
A list of donors was also leaked, including corporate backers such as Microsoft and GlaxoSmithKline, a multinational drug company that contributed $50,000 in the past two years to support a medical newsletter. (Microsoft said its donation was earmarked for a technology newsletter and came in the form of free software, which it often gives to non-profits.) While the Chicago-based institute would not confirm the donor list was authentic, it nonetheless issued a public apology "to the donors whose identities were revealed by this theft."
Interestingly, no oil companies were listed as donors, much to the surprise of environmentalists who have traditionally thought the companies had been secretly funding such climate change-questioning work. However, the Times points out that the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, which, according to the documents, contributed $25,000 last year and was expected to contribute $200,000 this year, controls major oil refiner Koch Industries. ExxonMobil used to fund the group but backed out in 2005 after Greenpeace reported that they had donated up to $800,000 to the group.
Politico has more on the memos and the fallout here.