Heartland Institute

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The Heartland Institute, according to the Institute's web site, is a nonprofit "think tank" that questions the reality and import of climate change, second-hand smoke health hazards, and a host of other issues that might seem to require government regulation. Heartland Institute is an "associate member" of the State Policy Network, a web of right-wing “think tanks” and tax-exempt organizations in 49 states, Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C., Canada, and the United Kingdom.

A July 2011 Nature editorial points out the group's lack of credibility:

"Despite criticizing climate scientists for being overconfident about their data, models and theories, the Heartland Institute proclaims a conspicuous confidence in single studies and grand interpretations....makes many bold assertions that are often questionable or misleading.... Many climate sceptics seem to review scientific data and studies not as scientists but as attorneys, magnifying doubts and treating incomplete explanations as falsehoods rather than signs of progress towards the truth. ... The Heartland Institute and its ilk are not trying to build a theory of anything. They have set the bar much lower, and are happy muddying the waters."[1]

An August 2014 Travis County Texas court ruling highlighted President and CEO Joseph Bast's lack of credibility and reliability:

"Mr. Joseph Bast, president and CEO of the Heartland Institute, testified for the Intervenors regarding the Texas Taxpayers’ Savings Grant Programs (“TTSGP”), a school voucher bill that failed in the 82nd Legislative Session. As a threshold matter, this Court finds that Mr. Bast is not a credible witness and that he did not offer reliable opinions in this matter. While Mr. Bast described himself as an economist, he holds neither undergraduate nor graduate degrees in economics, and the highest level of education he completed was high school. Mr. Bast testified that he is 100% committed to the long-term goal of getting government out of the business of educating its own voting citizens. Further, his use of inflammatory and irresponsible language regarding global warming, and his admission that the long term goal of his advocacy of vouchers is to dismantle the “socialist” public education system further undermine his credibility with this Court."[2]

In addition to its main website, Heartland manages the following websites:


News and Controversies

Authored Letter to Congress to Overrule Biden Administration's ESG Rule

In February 2023, James Taylor, President of Heartland Institute, signed the Advancing American Freedom coalition letter to Congress asking it to “overturn the Biden administration’s dangerous ESG rule through the Congressional Review Act.”[3]

ESG, standing for Environmental, Social, and Governance, are metrics companies use to measure the overall societal impact of standards that they implement so that investors can see the net impact of their investment.[4]

Heartland Endorses ALEC Legislation That Would Block ESG Initiatives

In December 2022, ALEC, an organization that distributes model legislation to state legislatures across the country, introduced a bill that would authorize state governments to blacklist corporations that promoted DEI and ESG initiatives. Heartland, on its part, endorsed the piece of legislation.[3]

DEI stands for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Companies implement DEI initiatives to meet the needs of all employees from all walks of life.

"Companies that are diverse, equitable, and inclusive are better able to respond to challenges, win top talent, and meet the needs of different customer bases. With DEI in mind, companies are considering how to better support employees. Over the past few years, many organizations have taken strides to build diversity, equity, and inclusion into their policies and hiring practices." [5]

Heartland Endorses Independent Women's Forum Coalition Letter for Increased ESG Oversight

In November 2022, in light of the GOP winning a majority in the House of Representatives, Heartland President, James Taylor, urged Republican leaders to increase ESG oversight by signing onto an Independent Women's Forum coalition letter.[3]

The letter addresses manly claims that the Heartland Institute has long contended about ESGs claiming they are dangerous and a waste of investor money. Many have contended, on the other hand, that the overall measure of a company provided by ESG creates a better marketplace for investors so that more socially aware companies receive more attention.

Heartland Institute Called Out for Blocking Action on Climate Change

In July of 2016, nineteen U.S. Senators delivered a series of speeches denouncing climate change denial from 32 organizations with links to fossil-fuel interests, including the Heartland Institute.[6] Sen. Whitehouse (RI-D), who led the effort to expose "the web of denial" said in his remarks on the floor that the purpose was to,

"shine a little light on the web of climate denial and spotlight the bad actors in the web, who are polluting our American discourse with phony climate denial. This web of denial, formed over decades, has been built and provisioned by the deep-pocketed Koch brothers, by ExxonMobil, by Peabody coal, and by other fossil fuel interests. It is a grim shadow over our democracy in that it includes an electioneering effort that spends hundreds of millions of dollars in a single election cycle and threatens any Republican who steps up to address the global threat of climate change. . . . [I]t is long past time we shed some light on the perpetrators of this web of denial and expose their filthy grip on our political process. It is a disgrace, and our grandchildren will look back at this as a dirty time in America’s political history because of their work.”[6]

"Heartland Insider Leaked Documents

An anonymous donor called "Heartland Insider" released documents in February 2012 of the Heartland Institute's budget, fundraising plan, and Climate Strategy for 2012.

The 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy states that the Institute got $200,000 in 2011 from the Charles G. Koch Foundation, and nearly a million from an anonymous donor. Goals of the organization included:

  • working with David E. Wojick on "providing [K-12 school] curriculum that shows that the topic of climate change is controversial and uncertain - two key points that are effective at dissuading teachers from teaching science";
  • "sponsor[ing] the NIPCC [Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change] to undermine the official United Nation's IPCC [International Panel on Climate Change] reports" including paying "a team of writers $388,000 in 2011 to work on a series of editions of Climate Change Reconsidered"; and
  • funding climate change deniers Craig Idso ($11,600 per month), Fred Singer ($5,000 a month), James Taylor who has written a lot about Climategate through his Forbes blog, and Anthony Watts ($90,000 for 2012) to challenge "warmist science essays that counter our own," including funding "external networks (such as WUWT [Watts Up With That?] and other groups capable of rapidly mobilizing responses to new scientific findings, news stories, or unfavorable blog posts)."[7]

The Institute later confirmed the authenticity of some of the released documents, but maintained in a Feb. 15, 2012 press release that the Climate Strategy was "a forgery apparently intended to defame and discredit The Heartland Institute."[8]


Scientist Peter Gleick Admits to Leaking Climate Documents

On February 19th, just weeks after the documents were released, Peter H. Gleick of the environmental group Pacific Institute admitted to the Huffington Post that he lied to obtain climate documents. In the article The Origin of the Heartland Documents Gleick verified that the documents were not altered. Glecik says he obtained an anonymous document in the mail describing what appeared to be details of the Heartland Institute's climate program strategy. In an attempt to verify these documents, Gleick solicited and received additional materials directly from the Heartland Institute under someone else's name. It was these documents that Gleick forwarded to a set of environmental journalists. [9]

Gleick offered his "personal apologies to all those affected," and said his judgment was clouded by his "frustration with the ongoing efforts — often anonymous, well-funded and coordinated — to attack climate science and scientists … and by the lack of transparency of the organizations involved." [10]

Heartland Sends Threatening Emails

In the days and weeks following the release of the leaked documents, Heartland has been on an aggressive campaign to rid the information from the public domain. Heartland has targeted a number of bloggers who have reported on the matter. Under the premise that the leaked documents are a "fake memo" which were not created by anyone associated with the Heartland Institute, Heartland officials cited no laws while they "respectfully demanded" that the content be removed from DeSmogBlog.com in an email they titled, "Stolen and Faked Heartland Documents." This was the first in a series of emails sent out to bloggers across the internet where legal action was threatened. [11] [12] [13]

In an attempt to explain why Heartland is doing this, co-founder of the Heartland Institute Joseph Bast writes “We realize this will be portrayed by some as a heavy-handed threat to free speech. But the First Amendment doesn’t protect Internet fraud, and there is no right to defamatory speech." [14]

Gary Wamsley, A 71-year-old veteran received a threatening email from Joseph Bast after sending what Wamsley calls "a strongly worded email to the president and all the board members of the Heartland Institute," concerning his feelings on science education.

In the initial email Wamsley writes, "You should be ashamed of yourself. The United States already has a problem in keeping up with the rest of the world in science education and now you want to play a role in further destroying our nation as well as our planet...I did not spend 30 years in the military to protect the likes of you."

Bast replied asking Wamsley to apologize for the "intemperate and very offensive letter." He also writes, "since your letter is threatening, I’ve forwarded it to our legal counsel, forensics team, and the FBI. It is important that you not delete the email from your sent file, or any other emails you may have exchanged with other people while preparing it, since this could be evidence in criminal and civil cases." [15]

The climate scientists who had their emails stolen in a similar matter known as "Climategate" have turned Heartland's nonsense threats of legal action around on them. A letter sent to the Heartland Institute by the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund uses the threatening language of the Heartland Institute. The letter says, "[We] view the malicious and fraudulent manner in which the Climatic Research Unit documents were obtained and/or thereafter disseminated, as well as the repeated blogs about them as providing the basis for civil actions against those who obtained and/or disseminated them and blogged about them. The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund fully intends to pursue all possible actionable civil remedies to the fullest extent of the law." [16]

Operation Angry Badger

Leaked documents show that the Hearland-Institute is planning to spend $612,000 supporting Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and four GOP Senators in their probable recall elections in a pro-Walker campaign they are calling “Operation Angry Badger.”

In the leaked documents Heartland wrote: "The recall elections of 2012 amount to a referenda on collective bargaining reform at the state level, making them of national interest. Successful recalls would be a major setback to the national effort to rein in public-sector compensation and union power."

The documents propose a $612,000 campaign to include print ads, mailers, web ads, and blog posts that would promote the "successes" of Wisconsin Act 10 and portray Wisconsin teachers as overpaid and schools as underperforming. [17] [18]

Campaign Against Climate Science

The leaked documents offer a glimpse into the Heartland Institute’s campaign against climate science. The documents suggest that Heartland is planning new push to undermine the teaching of global warming in public schools

The leaked documents 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. One particular document says, “Principals and teachers are heavily biased toward the alarmist perspective.” [19]

Documents Contained at the Anti-Environmental Archives
Documents written by or referencing this person or organization are contained in the Anti-Environmental Archive, launched by Greenpeace on Earth Day, 2015. The archive contains 3,500 documents, some 27,000 pages, covering 350 organizations and individuals. The current archive includes mainly documents collected in the late 1980s through the early 2000s by The Clearinghouse on Environmental Advocacy and Research (CLEAR), an organization that tracked the rise of the so called "Wise Use" movement in the 1990s during the Clinton presidency. Access the index to the Anti-Environmental Archives here.

Disturbing ties with Pruitt EPA

In May 2018, released emails showed Environmental Protection Agency asking Heartland, calling itself the "pre-eminent organization opposing the radical climate alarmism agenda", for suggestions of scientists and economists they might recommend "for public hearings on science and global warming, counter negative news coverage and promote Administrator Scott Pruitt's stewardship of the agency", including people associated with groups countering the scientific community's cautions regarding man-made climate change, like Plants Need CO2, The Right Climate Stuff, and Junk Science. The emails, obtained by FOIA request lawsuits by Environmental Defense Fund and the Southern Environmental Law Center, reveal how the upper echelon of the EPA actively sought out people who shared their disdain for regulations and their enforcement. Environmental groups criticized the EPA for ignoring the conclusions of EPA and other scientists regarding man-made carbon emissions and their climate-change impacts.[20]

Ties to the State Policy Network

The Heartland Institute is an associate member of the right-wing State Policy Network (SPN) [21] and was featured in SPN's Associate Member Updates in July/August 2017. According to the SPN website, "The Heartland Institute has sent more than 350,000 copies of the book “Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming” to every K–12 and college-level science teacher in America. The 100-page book is one chapter of the latest in the Climate Change Reconsidered series. This is a much-needed critical examination of the peer-reviewed climate science literature by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC). The project has been a huge success, generating extensive media coverage and traffic on social media. The mailing was accompanied by a copy of a DVD, “History of Climate Change in Greenland” produced by Free to Choose Media." [22]

SPN's January/February 2017 newsletter also featured the Heartland Institute's policy recommendations for the incoming administration: "In November, The Heartland Institute released its “Action Plan for President Trump,” which offered 34 free-market policy recommendations for the incoming administration in environment & energy, education, health care, budget and taxes, and constitutional reform. Highlights include withdrawing from the Paris climate accord, devolving EPA’s power to the states, eliminating the Department of Education, supporting a plan similar to the “Ryan Roadmap” or “Path to Prosperity” plans to balance the budget in 10 years, repealing Obamacare, privatizing the Veterans Administration, and encouraging passage of the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act." [23]

Additional information regarding the Heartland Institute's recent publications on climate change and climate science were featured in SPN's Associate Member Updates, including Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming and Clexit, For a Brighter Future. [24] [25] SPN is a web of right-wing “think tanks” and tax-exempt organizations in 48 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and the United Kingdom. As of June 2024, SPN's membership totals 167. Today's SPN is the tip of the spear of far-right, nationally funded policy agenda in the states that undergirds extremists in the Republican Party. SPN Executive Director Tracie Sharp told the Wall Street Journal in 2017 that the revenue of the combined groups was some $80 million, but a 2022 analysis of SPN's main members IRS filings by the Center for Media and Democracy shows that the combined revenue is over $152 million.[26] Although SPN's member organizations claim to be nonpartisan and independent, the Center for Media and Democracy's in-depth investigation, "EXPOSED: The State Policy Network -- The Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government," reveals that SPN and its member think tanks are major drivers of the right-wing, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)-backed corporate agenda in state houses nationwide, with deep ties to the Koch brothers and the national right-wing network of funders.[27]

In response to CMD's report, SPN Executive Director Tracie Sharp told national and statehouse reporters that SPN affiliates are "fiercely independent." Later the same week, however, The New Yorker's Jane Mayer caught Sharp in a contradiction. In her article, "Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?," the Pulitzer-nominated reporter revealed that, in a recent meeting behind closed doors with the heads of SPN affiliates around the country, Sharp "compared the organization’s model to that of the giant global chain IKEA." She reportedly said that SPN "would provide 'the raw materials,' along with the 'services' needed to assemble the products. Rather than acting like passive customers who buy finished products, she wanted each state group to show the enterprise and creativity needed to assemble the parts in their home states. 'Pick what you need,' she said, 'and customize it for what works best for you.'" Not only that, but Sharp "also acknowledged privately to the members that the organization's often anonymous donors frequently shape the agenda. 'The grants are driven by donor intent,' she told the gathered think-tank heads. She added that, often, 'the donors have a very specific idea of what they want to happen.'"[28]

A set of coordinated fundraising proposals obtained and released by The Guardian in early December 2013 confirm many of these SPN members' intent to change state laws and policies, referring to "advancing model legislation" and "candidate briefings." These activities "arguably cross the line into lobbying," The Guardian notes.[29]

Ties to the Koch Brothers

The Heartland Institute is connected to the Koch brothers and their network of right-wing donors. In the past, the Institute has accepted $40,000 from the Claude R. Lambe Foundation and $62,578 from the Charles G. Koch Foundation. Both organizations are members of the Koch Family Foundations.[30]

Koch Wiki

Charles Koch is the right-wing billionaire owner of Koch Industries. As one of the richest people in the world, he is a key funder of the right-wing infrastructure, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the State Policy Network (SPN). In SourceWatch, key articles on Charles Koch and his late brother David include: Koch Brothers, Americans for Prosperity, Stand Together Chamber of Commerce, Stand Together, Koch Family Foundations, Koch Universities, and I360.

Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council

The Heartland Institute is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as of 2010-2011.[31] It is a member of ALEC's Telecommunications and Information Technology Task Force,[32] Education Task Force,[33] Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force Financial Services Subcommittee[34] and Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force.[35] James Taylor, managing editor of the Heartland publication Environment & Climate News, spoke at the Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force meeting at the 2011 ALEC Annual Meeting.[35] Heartland was also an Exhibitor at ALEC's 2011 Annual Meeting.[36]

The Heartland Institute has also functioned as a publisher and promoter of ALEC's model legislation.[37] At the Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force meeting of ALEC's 2010 annual meeting, Alan Smith “The Hurricane Mitigation Promotion Act” and “A Resolution Concerning Tax Treatment of Affiliated Reinsurance.”[38] Marc Oestreich, who represents Heartland on the Education Task Force, has also sponsored model legislation. Oestreich sponsored the "Parent Trigger Act," which he presented at the 2010 States and Nation Policy Summit,[39] and the "Taxpayers’ Savings Grants Act," which he presented to the K–12 Education Reform Subcommittee during ALEC’s 38th Annual Meeting.[40]

Heartland Partners With ALEC to Roll Back Renewable Energy Sources

As a part of its 2013 agenda, ALEC partnered with the Heartland Institute to roll back the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), state-level legislation that requires utility companies to produce a certain amount of their total energy from renewable sources.[41]

The Institute brought a model bill, dubbed the Electricity Freedom Act, to ALEC's attention in May 2012. While ALEC publicly expressed its high hopes for the legislation, the bill had little success in state houses during the 2013 legislative session, failing to pass every legislature in which it was introduced.[41]

About ALEC
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our ExposedbyCMD.org site.

Ties to the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation

Per Conservative Transparency, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation donated $1,215,500 to the Heartland Institute between 1994 and 2014. [42]

Bradley Files

In 2017, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), publishers of SourceWatch, launched a series of articles on the Milwaukee-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, exposing the inner-workings of one of America's largest right-wing foundations. 56,000 previously undisclosed documents laid bare the Bradley Foundation's highly politicized agenda. CMD detailed Bradley's efforts to map and measure right wing infrastructure nationwide, including by dismantling and defunding unions to impact state elections; bankrolling discredited spin doctor Richard Berman and his many front groups; and more.

Find the series here at ExposedbyCMD.org.

Tobacco Ties

See Heartland Institute and tobacco for extensive documentation of the Institute's tobacco ties.

Actions and policy

Disputing global warming

Heartland's climate conferences

  • March 2008, The 2008 International Conference on Climate Change[43]
  • March 2009, International Conference on Climate Change (2009), in New York.[44][45]
  • June 2009, Third International Conference on Climate Change in Washington, DC on June 2, 2009 at the Washington Court Hotel, to "call attention to widespread dissent to the asserted 'consensus' on various aspects of climate change and global warming," according to Heartland's announcement of the event. "The conference's theme will be Climate Change: Scientific Debate and Economic Analysis. The theme reflects the fact that the scientific debate is not over and that economic analysis is more important than ever, now that legislation is being seriously considered. The real science and economics of climate change support the view that global warming is not a crisis and that immediate action to reduce emissions is not necessary. This is, in fact, the emerging consensus view of scientists outside the IPCC and most economists outside environmental advocacy groups," Heartland's website states. [46]
  • May 2010, Fourth, Chicago
  • Oct 2010, Fifth (Pacific Rim), Sydney, Australia
  • June 2011, Sixth, Washington DC. Non-fringe climate scientist Scott Denning gave an excellent talk, pointing out that "climate will change a lot in the next generation and policy will be enacted" and yet "the political right has been AWOL in proposing effective solutions". He challenged his audience not to shirk their responsibility: "we need effective solutions...only a free market can bring this kind of change about...who will advocate for these solutions? If free market advocates shirk their responsibility, others will dictate the policy."[47] [48]
Conference funding
2009: Sponsors' main funder is Scaife

An analysis of the 2009 conference sponsors' corporate-and-foundation funding revealed 78% was from the Scaife foundations[49] of Richard Mellon Scaife.

Water policy

Heartland opposes the Great Lakes Water Resources Compact, which was signed into affect in December of 2005 by the governors of eight states that border the great lakes, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York, and the premiers of the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario. As of 2008, the compact was ratified by all of the eight state legislatures. The compact was proposed in light of the unprecedented low levels of water in the lakes, which are now at the bottom end of the historical fluctuation range of 4-6 feet. In order to mitigate diminishing water levels, The compact will limit the consumption of water from the Great Lakes to areas within these eight states, or to areas outside of the boundary only by petition subject to strict regulation. [50] This new regulation also stemmed from proposals to ship water from the Great Lakes to other states like Arizona, or even out of the country into Asian water markets. [51]

In a research and commentary report released in March of 2007, the Heartland Institute criticized the compact, claiming water should be regulated through the market rather than through the government. [52] In this report, Heartland, as is typical of a free market think tank, contends that water is a commodity just like other resources, and should thus be regulated through market mechanisms. The report cites Terry Anderson, Director of the Property and Environment Research Center, arguing that "water rights should be allocated and traded in the marketplace, even if that means shipping water to Asia at the right price. It's no different than shipping out cars or iron ore." [52]


On its website Heartland states that, "The Heartland Institute is a nonprofit organization recognized as a tax-exempt charity under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. We are nonpartisan and most of our work is strictly educational. We very rarely lobby, and when we do, we follow strict guidelines. We focus on issues in education, environmental protection, health care, budgets and taxes, and constitutional reform.[53]


The institute was founded in 1984 by David H. Padden, now the President of Padco Lease Corporation, and Joseph L. Bast, Heartland's President and CEO.[54]

"Heartland grew out of David H. Padden’s Loop Libertarian League, a group that met monthly at the Union League Club in downtown Chicago to discuss politics and philosophy. The idea was to create a think tank in Chicago that would emulate larger D.C. think tanks--national organizations that produce excellent original research. Today, we ... fill a unique niche in the free-market movement as the only think tank that directly markets free-market ideas to the nation’s legislators and opinion leaders."[55]

Nonprofit status

The Institute is a 501(c)(3), EIN #363309812, ruling date 12/1984.[2]

A public charity, *barely*

Heartland barely misses being classed more restrictively as a private foundation - according to its 2009 Form 990, "public support" made up just 33% of contributions for 2009 and 36% for 2008. (The bulk of support would have come from large donors.) (If public support falls below 33 1/3% for 2 years, it becomes a private foundation.)

A no-show in Illinois nonprofits database

The Institute did not appear in a mid-2011 search of the Illinois Attorney General's Charitable Database, for as yet unknown reasons.

Audience and products

Main audience is lawmakers

The Institute sees its primary audience as "the nation’s 8,300 state and national elected officials and approximately 8,400 local government officials."[56]

5 publications and a documents database

For five of the Institute's priority policy areas, Heartland produces 20-page tabloid-sized monthly newspapers which are primarily distributed to elected officials, journalists and donors. (The five publications are Budget & Tax News, Environment & Climate News, Health Care News, Infotech & Telecom News and School Reform News.[56] Heartland also hosts PolicyBot, which it refers to as the "Internet's most extensive clearing-house for the work of free-market think tanks." The database contains 22,000 documents from 350 U.S. right-wing think tanks and advocacy groups.[57]

Heartland's publications such as Health Care News publish three months after events, and rely on college students and other freelance writers to develop content and obtain data and expert quotes without oversight.[citation needed]


According to Heartland website, its mission is "to discover and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems".[58] The Institute campaigns in support of:

  • "Common-sense environmentalism", such as opposition to the the Kyoto Protocol aimed at countering global warming
  • Genetically engineered crops and products;
  • The privatization of public services;
  • The introduction of school vouchers;
  • The deregulation of health care insurance;

and against:

  • What it refers to as "junk science" (science that that could indicate a need for regulation);
  • Tobacco control measures such as tobacco tax increases (the Institute denies the adverse health effects of second-hand smoke);

A version of its mission stated, current until 2006, stated that Heartland was "devoted to turning ideas into social movements that empower people". Another think tank link to Heartland used a slightly different version of its mission statement: "Heartland's mission is to help build social movements in support of ideas that empower people."[59]

In a statement submitted to the charity research group, Guidestar, Heartland states that "people devote time to learn about subjects only if they believe acquiring specific knowledge will benefit them personally. Often, this seems unlikely. Consequently, most people choose rationally to remain ignorant about many public policy issues. The Heartland Institute has overcome the problem of 'rational ignorance' by inventing publications busy elected officials and the public will actually read and come to trust. Our publications are highly effective and inexpensive vehicles for communicating messages on public policy." [60]

Heartland is holding its first America First Energy Conference on November 9th, 2017. [3]


In both 2011 and 2012, the Institute reported having lobbying expenditures. It spent $415,935 on lobbying in 2011, and it spent $350,348 on lobbying in 2012. [61]


Heartland Institute does not disclose its donors, but some of its funding sources are known through other tax filings. Heartland's known funders include:

  • 2040 Foundation: $25,000 (2015)
  • Acts 4 32-34: $1,000 (2021)
  • Adolph Coors Foundation: $70,000 (2014-2016)
  • American Endowment Foundation: $5,500 (2018)
  • American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers: $75,000 (2017)
  • Armstrong Foundation: $22,500 (2015-2018)
  • Arthur G. Jaros Sr. and Dawn L. Jaros Charitable Trust: $6,000 (2010-2019)
  • Association for Accessible Medicines: $17,500 (2018-2019)
  • Ayco Charitable Foundation: $11,000 (2019)
  • Bader Family Foundation: $1,000 (2018)
  • Barney Family Foundation: $225,000 (2013-2018)
  • Bartley J. Madden Foundation: $525,000 (2016-2018)
  • Biszantz Charitable Foundation: $100 (2021)
  • Bradley Impact Fund: $363,500 (2014-2021)
  • Campbell Family Foundation: $2,000 (2016-2018)
  • Cardid Corporation: $2,000 (2021)
  • Carol and Richard Bayerlein Foundation: $500 (2021)
  • Ceres Foundation: $105,000 (2016-2021)
  • Chase Foundation of Virginia: $196,000 (2013-2019)
  • Chicago Community Trust: $20,000 (2017-2019)
  • Clearpath Foundation: $25,000 (2015)
  • Community Foundation of Collier County: $350 (2021)
  • Community Foundation Of Tampa Bay Inc: $520,564 (2021)
  • David and Annette Jorgensen: $12,000 (2014-2015)
  • David Herro Charitable Foundation: $175,000 (2018-2019)
  • Deramus Foundation: $100,000 (2013-2019)
  • Dick and Diane May Foundation: $24,000 (2015-2019)
  • Donors Capital Fund: $5,875,500 (2014-2016)
  • DonorsTrust: $8,319,032 (2017-2021)
  • DuPage Community Foundation: $150,000 (2012-2019)
  • Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation: $5,000 (2016)
  • Ed Uihlein Family Foundation: $654,000 (2014-2021)
  • El Roble Azul Foundation: $5,000 (2018)
  • Fidelity Investments Charitable Gift Fund: $183,718 (2017-2021)
  • Foundation for Individual Liberty: $10,000 (2021)
  • Garlinghouse Foundation: $10,000 (2013-2014)
  • Garvey Kansas Foundation: $4,000 (2016-2019)
  • Gelatt-Gephart Foundation: $88,020 (2015-2020)
  • Hsu Family Educational Foundation: $2,000 (2016-2017)
  • Huizenga Foundation: $2,000 (2013)
  • Jerome and Toby Rapport Foundation: $8,500 (2016-2018)
  • Jim Hicks Family Foundation: $15,000 (2015-2018)
  • John Christopher Bunting Foundation: $5,000 (2017)
  • JP Humphreys Foundation: $10,000 (2019-2020)
  • Ken W Davis Foundation: $10,000 (2021)
  • Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation: $50,000 (2019)
  • MacDougal Family Foundation: $9,500 (2014-2018)
  • Mercer Family Foundation: $2,585,000 (2014-2017)
  • Morgan Stanley Global Impact Funding Trust: $2,500 (2016)
  • Morgan-Senior Foundation: $1,000 (2019)
  • Morse Charitable Foundation: $3,000 (2017-2018)
  • National Cable and Telecommunications Association: $20,000 (2010-2011)
  • National Christian Charitable Foundation: $201,100 (2014-2017)
  • National Philanthropic Trust: $47,000 (2020-2021)
  • Pete M Hanna Charitable Foundation: $4,000 (2016-2017)
  • Pew Charitable Trusts: $95,177 (2017)
  • PhRMA: $20,000 (2010)
  • Rauner Family Foundation: $50,000 (2013)
  • Red Bird Hollow Foundation: $5,000 (2014-2021)
  • Richard and Leslie Gilliam Foundation: $10,000 (2012)
  • Robertson-Finley Foundation: $4,000 (2018)
  • Roger and Susan Stone Foundation: $70,000 (2015-2017)
  • Rodney Fund: $7,000 (2020)
  • Ron and Susan Krump Foundation: $1,000 (2019)
  • Schwab Charitable Fund $179,750: (2016-2021)
  • Searle Freedom Trust: $311,500 (2014-2021)
  • Shell Oil Company Foundation: $3,000 (2016-2020)
  • The Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University: $10,000 (2012)
  • The Shepherds Hand: $15,000 (2017-2020)
  • Vanguard Charitable: $1,493,500 (2014-2020)
  • Woodford Foundation for Limited Government: $25,000 (2017-2020)
  • Woodhouse Family Foundation: $25,000 (2018)

Media Transparency lists Heartland as having received grants from a range of foundations between 1986 and 2009. Of these foundations, by far the largest donor has been the foundation of Chicago industrialist Barre Seid[62], maker of Tripp Lite surge protectors.

Exxon funding

According to spokesman Jim Lakely, Heartland received $736,500 from Exxon Mobil between 1998 and 2006.[63]

Greenpeace's ExxonSecrets website lists some of these transactions.[64] (As mentioned above, Heartland insists that Exxon has not contributed to the group since 2006.)[65]

Exxon contributions include:

  • $30,000 in 1998;
  • $115,000 in 2000;
  • $90,000 in 2001;
  • $15,000 in 2002;
  • $85,000 for General Operating Support and $7,500 for their 19th Anniversary Benefit Dinner in 2003;
  • $85,000 for General Operating Support and $15,000 for Climate Change Efforts in 2004; and
  • $119,000 in 2005; and
  • $115,000 in 2006.

Secrecy on funding sources

While Heartland once disclosed its major supporters, it now refuses to publicly disclose who its corporate and foundation funders are. In response to an article criticizing the think tank for its secrecy, the group's President, Joseph Bast, wrote in February 2005:

"For many years, we provided a complete list of Heartland's corporate and foundation donors on this Web site and challenged other think tanks and advocacy groups to do the same. To our knowledge, not a single group followed our lead. However, critics who couldn’t or wouldn’t engage in fair debate over our ideas found the donor list a convenient place to find the names of unpopular companies or foundations, which they used in ad hominem attacks against us. Even reporters from time to time seemed to think reporting the identities of one or two donors--out of a list of hundreds--was a fair way of representing our funding or our motivation in taking the positions expressed in our publications. After much deliberation and with some regret, we now keep confidential the identities of all our donors."[66]

It has also claimed that "by not disclosing our donors, we keep the focus on the issue."[65]

Funding base

Diverse funding base, reports Heartland

According to Heartland,[4]

"The following facts show that Heartland is not a “front group”: ... Diverse funding base: Heartland has grown slowly over the years by cultivating a diverse base of donors who share its mission. Today it has approximately 2,000 supporters. In 2010 it received 48 percent of its income from foundations, 34 percent from corporations, and 14 percent from individuals. No corporate donor gave more than 5 percent of its annual budget."
Additional detail; funding source breakdown

Heartland stated that "in 2007 it received 71 percent of its income from foundations, 16 percent from corporations, and 11 percent from individuals. No corporate donor gave more than 5 percent of its annual budget ... ExxonMobil has not contributed to Heartland since 2006. Indeed, gifts from all energy companies - coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear - combined did not exceed 5 percent of Heartland’s budget in 2007."[65] (Heartland states that its 2007 revenue was approximately $5.2 million.[65] Based on this Heartland statement, in 2007 foundations provided approximately $3.69 million, corporations contributed $832,000 and approximately 1,600 individuals[67] Energy companies -- "coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear" -- contributed approximately 5% or around $260,000.)

Unbalanced; 35% to 58% of support from just one donor

A single donor provided 35% of Heartland's revenue in 2009 and 58% in 2008[68], and 38% in 2007.[69]

Donations of software, source TBD

Heartland's 2009 Form 990 reports over $120,000 in donations of software, apparently from a single source.[70]

Corporate sponsorship options, and perks

In its 2008 annual report to supporters, Heartland outlines that corporate sponsorships start out at $10,000, with the next rung up being "silver" sponsors which contribute $25,000, "gold" sponsors donating $50,000 and "platinum" sponsors kicking in $100,000.[56]

Independent, or a lobby shop?

Heartland's 1999 letter said benefits of Platinum and Gold sponsorship included "special consideration of documents for promotion via PolicyFax", and "attention to issues of special concern in Intellectual Ammunition and other publications"(page 8+) - which, given Heartland's announced primary audience of legislators, would seem to amount to lobbying.

1999 funders internal data

A June 1999 Heartland document (page 8+) in the Tobacco Archives lists Heartland's then-recent corporate, foundation and individual donors, and, for the highest spenders, roughly how much they gave.

Among the Platinum Sponsors were the D & D Foundation, Philip Morris, Procter & Gamble, and the Barre Seid Foundation. Gold sponsors included the American Petroleum Institute and the Bradley Foundation.

Support for Heartland Institute

In May 2012, DeSmog Blog reported that the Heartland Institute had added the Illinois Coal Association (ICA) as a new "Gold Sponsor" for its 2012 ICCC-7 climate conference. ICA joined following the Heartland's leaked documents and Unabomber billboard campaign. In Heartland's leaked 2012 Fundraising plan, Murray Energy gave $100,000 in 2010 and was expected to give $40,000 in 2012; the company's subsidiary, The American Coal Company, is a member of the ICA.[71]

Phil Gonet, the chief lobbyist for ICA, said of the support for Heartland, "We support the work they are doing and so we thought we would finally make a contribution to the organization ... I made a contribution mainly in support of a conference that is designed to make balanced information available to the public on the issue of global warming ... In general, the message of the Heartland Institute is something the Illinois Coal Association supports."[72]

Heartland funds flow to NZ, Intl Climate Science Coalitions

In 2007, Heartland gave $25,000 to the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition and $45,000 to the International Climate Science Coalition.

Likely this funding continues; but the orgs' identities aren't provided

Heartland has likely continued to fund these groups; Heartland's Form 990s report it is still giving money to unnamed organizations outside the U.S.[73], and the 2009 990 identifies the donees' region as "East Asia and the Pacific"[74] but it too leaves the "name" field blank. (It's not clear whether Heartland monitors how these groups spend the money: according to the 990 "the organization [Heartland] is "friends of" the grant recipients therefore no major tracking is necessary"[74]

Core Financials


  • Total Revenue: $3,852,132
  • Total Expenses: $4,309,935
  • Net Assets: $1,117,288


  • Total Revenue: $4,106,509
  • Total Expenses: $4,159,416
  • Net Assets: $1,557,521


  • Total Revenue: $5,994,969
  • Total Expenses: $5,471,048
  • Net Assets: $1,541,278


  • Total Revenue: $5,480,656
  • Total Expenses: $5,524,414
  • Net Assets: $1,017,357


  • Total Revenue: $4,398,175
  • Total Expenses: $5,770,366
  • Net Assets: $1,061,115


  • Total Revenue: $6,738,428
  • Total Expenses: $4,393,358
  • Net Assets: $2,433,306


  • Total Revenue: $4,783,310
  • Total Expenses: $4,422,355
  • Net Assets: $88,236


  • Total Revenue: $5,329,115
  • Total Expenses: $5,444,312
  • Net Assets: -$272,719


As of May 2023:


  • Joe Barnett, Senior Editor
  • Tim Benson, Senior Policy Analyst
  • H. Sterling Burnett, Director, Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy; Managing Editor, Environment & Climate News
  • Dawn Curry, Development Coordinator
  • Joseph Davis, Librarian
  • Wanda L. Davis, Director of Administatation
  • Matt Dean, Senior Fellow, Health Care Policy Outreach
  • Keely Drukala, Deputy Director of Communications and Cheif Technology Officer
  • Samantha Fillmore, State Government Relations Manager
  • Bette Grande, State Government Relations Manager
  • Justin Haskins, Director of Socialism Research Center
  • David Hoyt, Executive Director of Development
  • Billy Aouste, New Media Specialist
  • Gwendalyn Carver, Director of Development
  • Nikki Comerford, Associate Publisher and Events Manager
  • S.T. Karnick, Director of Publications
  • Donald Kendal, Graphic Designer
  • Jim Lakely, Vice President and Communications Director
  • Linnea Lueken, Research Fellow, Energy
  • Jack McPherrin, Research Editor and Research Fellow
  • Kevin Mooney, Contributing Editor
  • Nathan Myers, Development Coordinator
  • AnneMarie Schieber, Research Fellow and Managing Editor
  • Cameron Sholty, Director of Government Relations
  • Andy Singer, Digital Media Manager
  • Aaron D. Stover, Director of Federal Government/Corporate Relations
  • Christopher Talgo, Editorial Director
  • James Taylor, President
  • Anthony Watts, Senior Fellow

Former Staff

  • Matthew Glans, Senior Policy Analyst
  • Christina Herrin, Campaign Manager, Free to Choose Medicine
  • Robert G. Holland, Senior Fellow, Education
  • Edward Hudgins, Research Director
  • Tim Huelskamp, Ph.D., President
  • George Jamerson, Director of Government Relations
  • Lennie Jarratt, Project Manager, Center for Transforming Education
  • Kevin Leonard, Creative Director
  • Latreece Reed, Vice President of Administration
  • Lindsey Stroud, State Government Relations Manager
  • Scott Walsh, Foundation Manager
  • Arianna Wilkerson, State Government Relations Manager
  • Diane Bast, Executive Editor and Finance Manager
  • Joseph Bast, CEO
  • Peter Ferrara, Senior Fellow, Entitlement and Budget Policy
  • Veronica Harrison, Marketing Manager
  • Jesse Hathaway, Research Fellow and Managing Editor, Budget & Tax News
  • Jay Lehr, Science Director
  • Teresa Mull, Research Fellow and Managing Editor, School Reform News
  • John Nothdurft, Director of Government Relations
  • Isaac Orr, Research Fellow
  • Frederick D. Palmer, Senior Fellow, Energy and Climate
  • Latreece Reed, Executive Vice President

Board of Directors [83]

  • William S. Armistead, Duluth, Georgia
  • Robert J. Buford, Chicago, Illinois
  • Jeré C. Fabick, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Paul Fisher, Senior Fellow, Legal Affairs
  • Steven Milloy, Publisher, JunkScience.com
  • Joseph A. Morris, Chairman, Board of Directors, The Heartland Institute
  • Noah E. Robinson, Cave Junction, Oregon

Former Directors

Policy Experts (Pages 1-55) [84]

"Global warming experts"

See Heartland's "global warming experts" list at Heartland Institute/Global warming experts.

(As a group, "Global warming experts" who minimize the risks of climate change have less expertise than those who don't.[85])

The Heartland Institute's Environmental "expert," James M. Taylor, is a lawyer based in Florida. Despite presenting a veneer of scientific expertise in their Environmental advocacy, the Heartland lacks any[citation needed] scientists trained to understand climate issues.

Contact Information

Employer Identification Number (EIN): 36-3309812

The Heartland Institute
3939 North Wilke Road
Arlington Heights, Illinois 60004
Phone: 312-377-4000
Fax: 312-277-4122
Web: https://heartland.org/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HeartlandInstitute
Twitter: https://twitter.com/heartlandinst


Former Publications

Articles and resources

IRS Form 990 Filings








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