Thursday, February 16, 2012

Heartland Institute. More lobbyists with tax exempt status

It just so happens that the day after I wrote the post about the political lobbyist group ProEnglish and questioned the legitimacy of their 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, another right wing tax-exempt organization Heartland Institute made the news for their underhanded strategy to discredit climate science. 
NY Times: Leak Offers Glimpse of Campaign Against Climate Science  
Leaked documents suggest that an organization known for attacking climate science is planning a new push to undermine the teaching of global warming in public schools, the latest indication that climate change is becoming a part of the nation’s culture wars.  
The documents, from a nonprofit organization in Chicago called the Heartland Institute, outline plans to promote a curriculum that would cast doubt on the scientific finding that fossil fuel emissions endanger the long-term welfare of the planet. “Principals and teachers are heavily biased toward the alarmist perspective,” one document said.    
This is the part of the story I really focused in on.
The documents raise questions about whether the group has undertaken partisan political activities, a potential violation of federal tax law governing nonprofit groups. For instance, the documents outline “Operation Angry Badger,” a plan to spend $612,000 to influence the outcome of recall elections and related fights this year in Wisconsin over the role of public-sector unions.       
Tax lawyers said Wednesday that tax-exempt groups were allowed to undertake some types of lobbying and political education, but that because they are subsidized by taxpayers, they are prohibited from direct involvement in political campaigns.

Now this is pretty funny. Last night I sent an e-mail to Heartland asking them about this very issue. Why in the hell should taxpayers subsidize their political lobbying?  A response from Heartland's Diane Bast was waiting for me in my in-box this morning.   She took a half-assed shot at my cognitive skills because the word "teacher" is in my e-mail address.   Classy.   (actually I am an engineer..)

A wise man once said,  You know you are over the target when you start receiving flak. 

Good luck in the upcoming legal battle over your tax-exempt status, sweetheart.  ha.


  1. I think Diane Bast is related to the president of Heartland Joseph Bast. It is remarkable that someone so high up in a charitable organization would act so uncharitably in her response to you. I suppose that the over 1 million members of the American Federation of Teachers would be interested in her views on the intelligence of our country's educators. Keep up the good work!

  2. Directly relevant to this discussion, and providing much more detail, are two posts - and their attachments - by John Mashey:

    Bernard J.

  3. Hey,trying to influence public policy on behalf of secret money isn't a political act,it's an act of sweetness and charity. Anyone who loves freedum can see that.

    Why,on their website there's a link to their 'Legislator's Forum: Delivering Exactly What Legislators Need' and a 'Tea Party Toolbox'... Not political at all.


  4. I would warn anyone in the 501(c)(3) racket to not go by the mentality that if everyone else is doing it, it must be legal. The IRS has a way of letting things go until they decide not to, and then its lights out. Does anyone recall the silly tax shelters from the early '80's that dealt with master recordings of musical groups. That was a good one. It sure seemed like a solid tax shelter until one day it went poof and people got huge bills for their back taxes. My Uncle fought them to the end and ended up with a semi truck chock full of worthless 8-track tapes and a tax bill with 4 zeroes.

    1. This is why other think-tanks such as Marshall, Cato, CEI, Heritage, and AEI are each probably wishing that Heartland would just STFU. The more that Heartland engages in its petulant tanty, the more that a lot of people are going to start asking the same questions about the other lobby groups, that they are now asking about Heartland.

      I wouldn't be surprised if folk at these other organisations soon have a relentlessly persistent ear-worm that goes:

      "...don't stand so,
      don't stand so close to me..."

      Bernard J.