General Motors Separates Itself from Heartland Institute

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The Huffington Post reports the General Motors Foundation, the charitable arm of the American automaker, has pulled its support for a nonprofit think tank that argues against man-made global warming. The Heartland Institute was the beneficiary of $30,000 from the auto giant since 2010. The environmental group Forecast the Facts delivered a message from 10,000 GM owners to the car company proclaiming they were against the donation to the Heartland Institute.

What is this think tank? Here are some facts.

Origins

The Heartland Institute was organized in 1984 in Chicago. Joseph Bast was inspired by a group of Libertarian businessmen when he formed the pro-free market organization. After creating several branch offices, the Heartland Institute settled into its Chicago headquarters before branching out to an office in the nation's capital.

Statistics

The Heartland Institute claims it has a full-time staff of 40 people, 25 of whom work in the Chicago office. The organization publishes six monthly public policy newspapers distributed to every state and federal elected official plus over 8,400 local officials.

Government relations staff supposedly made over 14,700 one-on-one contacts with elected officials in 2010. A survey conducted in 2011 stated nearly 79 percent of state legislators read at least one Heartland Institute publication.

Mission

The mission of the Heartland Institute is to "promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems." Many issues in which the Heartland Institute delves include education, health care, environmental protection and deregulation.

Funding

The Heartland Institute relies solely on donations for support as a non-profit organization. The annual budget for the think tank is $6 million from 1,800 donors. Corporations donated less than 5 percent of the overall budget for the Heartland Institute.

Heartland's Response

The response of the organization to GM's funding was to use the word "Fakegate." The Heartland Institute claims a memo by Peter Gleick used to discredit the non-profit was a phony. Bast released a statement asking media outlets such as the Huffington Post, the Center for American Progress, 350.org and Greenpeace to stop attacking Heartland's positions regarding scientists who question global warming.

Curriculum Controversy

GM's withholding of funding comes more than a month after The Ticket reported a school curriculum based upon refuting claims made by climate change scientists. Dr. David Wojick was to be paid $25,000 per quarter to introduce a K-12 curriculum regarding climate change controversy. The materials are designed to cast doubt on climate change theories. Heartland responded by calling leaked documents and memos "fakes."

Wojick has worked for the U.S. Department of Energy regarding communication science and information. He holds a degree in civil engineering and a Ph.D in the philosophy of science and mathematical logic.

William Browning is a research librarian.

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