Tue May 8, 2012, 12:42 PM
hatrack (41,020 posts)
Thanks To Unabomber Billboard, State Farm, Diageo Walk On Heartland; Some Staff Quitting
The Heartland Institute has lost two corporate supporters since it unveiled a billboard campaign that compared those who accept the science of climate change to mass murderer Ted Kaczynski also known as the Unabomber. Yesterday, State Farm Insurance confirmed it was severing ties with the group, while on Sunday, Diageo, a major alcoholic drink company, announced it was also cutting its support of the conservative think tank. Even before this, General Motors (GM) cut ties with the group over its climate stance. The exodus of the three corporate supporters has lost the Heartland Institute an estimated $180,000 for 2012, according to fundraising documents leaked to the media.
The campaign began over the weekend when the Heartland Institute unveiled a new billboard in Chicago that showed a grizzled mugshot of Ted Kaczynski followed by the line, "I still believe in Global Warming? Do you?" The group, known for its denial of climate change, had planned to follow-up this billboard with others featuring Fidel Castro, Osama Bin Laden, Charles Manson, and hostage-take James J. Lee, however they pulled the billboard campaign after 24 hours. Not surprisingly the campaign was met with disdain by climate change advocates and scientists, but it was the furor it raised with Heartland Institute's own supporters that pushed the group to pull the campaign.
U.S. GOP Representative James Sensenbrenner pledged not to speak at the Heartland's upcoming summit on climate change, known as the Seventh International Conference on Climate Change, if the group did not end the billboard campaign. Sensenbrenner has now confirmed he will attend the summit, but another key speaker, Donna Laframboise, has written she will no longer be speaking a the summit which gathers together prominent climate change deniers. Notably, according to a list of speakers on Heartland's website, Laframboise was to have been the only woman speaking.
Earlier this year, fundraising and budget documents were leaked to the media by climate scientist, Peter Gleick, who obtained the documents via email by pretending to be a board member. He has since stated he regrets his actions. The documents, however, show that between 2010 and 2011 State Farm and State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance gave the Heartland Institute $464,200. The company was expected to give the think thank $155,000 this year. Diageo, which owns Guinness, gave the group $10,000 in 2010 and was expected to do the same this year. Meanwhile, General Motors had donated $15,000 in 2010 and again in 2011, and was expected to give the same in 2012.
The Heartland Institute's failed billboard campaign attacking the existence of climate change is driving a surge of corporate donors to abandon the group and prompting a mutiny among its Washington-based staff, which is decamping for less volatile surroundings, according to sources.
Other insurers are also cutting ties in a major upheaval that coincides, sources say, with the departure of Eli Lehrer from Heartland's Washington-based center, known by its acronym, FIRE. Lehrer and his staff were shocked by the billboard campaign, which they learned about in an emailed press release from Heartland headquarters Thursday, said Ray Lehmann, deputy director of the center.
When Lehrer learned of the billboard campaign, he began calling those companies to warn them, according to sources. During some of those conversations, Lehrer said he was seriously considering leaving Heartland. "He's gone," the industry source said of Lehrer. "They're negotiating out a departure for him and his team." Lehrer declined to comment.
His departure, combined with the retreat of insurers, would almost certainly mean that Heartland's Washington presence provided by the FIRE center would disappear, the source said. That could be a financial and reputational blow to Heartland, which anticipates receiving increased revenue this year by expanding the center's number of noninsurance programs. Lehrer also has helped to moderate Heartland's severe positions on climate change by forging relationships with environmentalists. His current allies include the National Wildlife Federation, American Rivers and Friends of the Earth.
4 replies, 1339 views
Thanks To Unabomber Billboard, State Farm, Diageo Walk On Heartland; Some Staff Quitting (Original post)
|Jackpine Radical||May 2012||#1|
Response to hatrack (Original post)
Tue May 8, 2012, 01:01 PM
Jackpine Radical (45,274 posts)
1. Insurance companies like State Farm backing Heartland?? Vereee interesting!
That would presumably mean that these companies have made no plans to cover the inevitable huge losses the world will experience due to direct & indirect effects of climate change in the coming years. Further, it means that they are probably trying to "proactively" suppress potential governmental regulation requiring them to figure in such losses. This in turn means that they are not really in the insurance business for the long haul, but are collecting money from homeowners under a false pretense that they are prepared to reimburse the insurees for these losses. They will not be able to do so. This will not stop the executives from pulling a Goldman-Sachs & walking off with the loot.
Response to Jackpine Radical (Reply #1)
Tue May 8, 2012, 02:17 PM
exboyfil (7,142 posts)
2. I have to say I am disgusted
I have had my auto insurance with State Farm since 1985 when they were the only company to give me insurance on my first car (I had never a single moving violation or an accident - I had just let my license lapse for a couple of years while I was in college to save money). Even though I probably have paid more, I have always gotten good service from State Farm who also has my home owners and unbrella liability policies.
I am going to have to rethink my relationship with them. Human induced climate change denial is one of the big reasons I am no longer a Republican (along with their stand on evolution and their craziness when it comes to taxes versus spending).