GM Defends Contributions To ‘Careful And Considerate’ Climate Denier Institute

One in a series of posts about the Heartland Institute’s inner workings, from internal documents acquired by ThinkProgress Green.

Internal documents reveal that General Motors Foundation has contributed to the climate-denial shop Heartland Institute, giving $30,000 since 2010 for its school-privatization publication School Reform News. GM has called for mandatory climate action, in sharp contrast to Heartland’s attacks on the fact of global warming.

Asked about the contributions, GM defended the Heartland Institute as “careful and considerate,” even though the radical think tank has accused “Government Motors” of “corporate welfare-sucking” and told people to “never again buy a GM car or truck.” In a statement to the Guardian, Greg Martin, GM’s director of policy and Washington communications, heaped praised on Heartland:

We support a variety of organizations that give careful and considerate thought to complex policy issues and Heartland is one of them.

In light of that high praise, ThinkProgress Green reviewed what the Heartland Institute has said about GM on its website over the past two years. Here is a sampling:

— “I, for one, don’t believe [GM CEO Dan] Akerson and his corporate welfare-sucking ilk believe Americans are ‘generous’ when government forces us to pay for their failures and mistakes. They know better; they just hope we don’t. … Let’s show him we know what he’s doing. We could start by never again buying a GM car or truck.” [“Raise Debt Ceiling? No. End Obamacare? Yes” 7/12/11]

— “It really doesn’t get much dumber than this unless, of course, you consider the Obama administration’s bailout of General Motors. Amidst a bevy of costly bailout measures in 2009, Obama stepped in to ‘rescue’ GM when, in fact, all it had to do is step aside and let the company file for bankruptcy, get restructured, and begin again. Countless companies, large and small, do this every year. The rescue, however, was not about GM so much as it was the United Auto Workers, a union that was largely responsible for putting GM in the poor house. … It didn’t help that the Obama administration insisted that GM step up its electric car program, always notoriously unprofitable, or that the steering wheels on some Chevy Cruze models literally came off in the driver’s hands!” [“The GM (Government Motors) Debacle, and Gas Prices” 4/28/10]

— “A little research shows that Chrysler has used essentially the same . . . creative accounting? bookkeeping devices? . . . that General Motors used in 2009 when that company announced with great fanfare that it was paying back government rescue money.” [“Chrysler Repays Government Early; Deja Vu All Over Again?” 5/25/11]

— “On a radio show I tuned into a while back, I heard the ballyhooed Chevy Volt electric car described as ‘the world’s first coal-powered car.’ Love that line. Even Henry Ford wasn’t dumb enough to engineer this lemon.” [“SHOCKER: The ‘Coal Powered Car,’ the Chevy Volt, is a dud (281 Sold in Feb.)” 3/5/11]

Perhaps Martin might want to reconsider whether the group’s thought is really so “careful and considerate.”


Forecast The Facts has established a petition to GM CEO Daniel Akerson: “General Motors, and all other corporations, should immediately pull their funding from the Heartland Institute in light of Heartland’s ongoing and persistent support of climate change denial.”

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In an interview with ThinkProgress Green, Carolyn Markey, manager for public policy and Washington communications at GM, said “The General Motors Foundation has provided funding, in the past, to this group. It was not for anything specific to climate change. It was for general operating support for the organization.” She said she had no comment on the anti-GM comments on the Heartland Foundation website.

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ThinkProgress is among several publications to have published documents related to the Heartland Institute. The documents were sent to us from an anonymous source, and the identity of the source was unknown to ThinkProgress at the time. The source later revealed himself on February 20, 2012. Heartland Institute has issued several press releases claiming that one document (“2012 Climate Strategy”) is fake and asserting other claims regarding the other documents. ThinkProgress has taken down the “2012 Climate Strategy” document as it works to determine the document’s origination.

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