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Heartland Institute Threatens Legal Action Against Mom Working For A Better World


Another mom, like me, standing up for a better world for our kids

The Heartland Institute is attempting damage control after the DeSmogBlog revealed confidential documents about the institute’s funding and its strategies to insinuate its anti-science agenda into our children’s education and undermine the IPCC . Although the Heartland Institute applauded the illegal release of thousands of personal emails stolen from Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in 2009, its reaction to last week’s release of documents that one of its own staff circulated is markedly different. In fact rather than celebrating this incident which allows the general public, along with reporters and other opinion leaders to, as its president Joe Bast wrote after the 2009 emails were published, “take a serious look at the skeptics’ case in the global warming debate” the Heartland Institute is threatening to sue bloggers who have posted links to the documents, or even (see below) links to blogs or web pages discussing the documents. So much for the First Amendment.

The folks at the Heartland Institute are all for freedom of speech when it comes to bashing climate scientists and quoting out of context from illegally obtained emails, but no so much when the tables are turned and their information intended for private consumption becomes public. They even threaten mothers like me, who blog because climate change is a threat to our children’s future, and who don’t  make one red cent off of it. Mr Jim Lakely, Heartland’s communications director, communicated this to me today:

By e-mail to:

350 or Bust

Re:      Stolen and Faked Heartland Documents

It has come to our attention that your blog or web site has taken one or more of the following actions:

– Posted links to a document titled “Confidential Memo: 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy.”

– Posted links to certain other documents purporting to be those of The Heartland Institute.

– Posted blogs or web pages discussing any or all of these documents.

Please be advised that the Confidential Memo is fake. It was not written by anyone associated with Heartland. It does not express Heartland’s goals, plans, or tactics. It contains several obvious and gross misstatements of fact. Publication of this falsified document, or blogs or web pages about it, is improper and unlawful.

As to other documents purported to be authored by Heartland, we are investigating how they came to be published and whether they are authentic or have been altered or fabricated. Several of the documents say on their face that they are confidential documents and all of them were taken from Heartland by improper and fraudulent means. Publication or republication of any and all confidential or altered documents is improper and unlawful.

Furthermore, Heartland views the malicious and fraudulent manner in which the documents were obtained and/or thereafter disseminated, as well as the repeated blogs or web site posts about them, as providing the basis for civil actions against those who obtained and/or disseminated them and wrote about them. Heartland fully intends to pursue all possible actionable civil remedies to the fullest extent of the law.

Therefore, we respectfully demand: (1) that you remove links to these documents from your blog or web site; (2) that you remove all posts that refer or relate in any manner to these documents or quotes from them; (3) that you publish retractions of prior postings; and (4) that you remove all such documents from your server, if you have placed them there.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you require any further information.

Very truly yours,

Maureen Martin

General Counsel

I’ve forwarded the email to those who are more familiar with the law than I am and I haven’t heard back from them yet.However, I have checked out what other people on the internet are saying about the Heartland Institute’s bullying tactics, and it seems the consensus is that they don’t have a leg to stand on. Techdirt put it this way:

Now, I don’t care what you think of Heartland, climate change or anything along those lines. Whether you think it’s a wonderful organization or an evil organization… one thing I would hope we could agree on is that threatening people for “commenting” on documents with legal action, even if the documents later turn out to be fake, is not a good idea. I can certainly understand the temptation to try to get people not to comment, but the threat is pretty clearly bogus. The documents — and the leak of the documents — even if faked or altered, are still a public interest issue, and it’s hard to see how there’s any law broken in commenting about what’s in the documents. There may be legal issues for whoever leaked the documents, but those who are commenting on them? Sorry, that’s just silly.

In the meantime, I have something to communicate back to Mr. Lakely, who is co-director of Heartland’s Center on the Digital Economy as well as its communications director. I’m 350orbust’s Communications Director and I can be very economical with my digital communication, but I will let this young woman speak for me:

More links:

Heartland Demands DeSmogBlog Remove “Climate Strategy” Document

Heartland Uses PR Director’s Email For Delivering Threats Of Legal Action

Heartland Institute Threatens 71-year-old Veteran

Climate Change Denial Front Group Heartland Institute Sends Emails To Bloggers Threatening Legal Action

34 Comments leave one →
  1. 2012/02/19 5:22 pm

    Great photo! This is truly “theatre of the absurd” material.

    • 2012/02/19 9:10 pm

      Up is down, wrong is right, the fossil fools are filled with righteous indignation while our children’s future is flushed down the toilet.

  2. 2012/02/19 9:39 pm

    Sorry to see this intimidation and bullying by Heartland. Clearly you’ve hit a nerve. Let me know how I can help you.

  3. 2012/02/19 9:41 pm

    Thanks for the support, Franke. You certainly are a role model for me when it comes to David & Goliath situations.

  4. Susan hodges permalink
    2012/02/19 9:55 pm

    Corporations are feeling the “heat”. Somewhat different but bullying tactics same as in Don Staniford’s trial of defamation. He did not even mention a company name re his postings, blog, however cermaq,a subsidiary of marine harvest farmed salmon, is suing Don,an individual, at first for $125,000 and now upped to a million!!! Why did this even go to trial. Waiting for a decision. Farmed salmon kills free speech. THEY are very afraid of free speech, the Internet, democracy because it can shine a light into those oh so dark corners. WE must continue to not be intimidated and stand up to these corporate monsters who hide behind their legal counsel.

  5. 2012/02/19 11:11 pm

    You go, girl!!! [no diminutive intended]

    • 2012/02/20 5:28 am

      Thanks, Tenney, for dropping by and for the support. [no offense taken!]

  6. Bob permalink
    2012/02/20 1:13 am

    I hope I get a similar letter from Maureen, will have to send her my real name and address. Would be a real honour to receive this, I would frame it and stick it up on the wall to impress visitors that I’ve done my bit to confront and expose the wicked and immoral deniers of climate science.

    • 2012/02/20 5:29 am

      LOL – good idea, Bob. I would add, besides impressing visitors, we can show it to our grandchildren when they ask what we did during the climate crisis.

  7. 2012/02/20 6:01 am

    You will also find that many heartland Institute documents have been archived at the “Web Archive” since 2008 or thereabouts … ie … they published them freely.

    I would guess that before Heartland takes legal action against any of you for posting links to certain publications that they also explain why they allow so many of their documents to be freely available to the public in the first place.

    Here is a laugh for you …

    “The Heartland Institute is also outside the beltway, founded and operating continuously in Chicago since 1984. We actively oppose junk science and the use of scare tactics in the areas of environmental protection and public health. ”


    And there is so much more if you care to do some research …. I guess maybe they forgot that ultimately nothing is secret on the web

    Have a nice day 🙂

    • 2012/02/20 6:28 am

      One more link:

      on this link you will find the following statement:


      The Heartland Institute’s Web sites have security measures in place to protect the loss, misuse, and alteration of information under our control.”

      Since they had security measures in place and they don’t even mention the wayback machine and since there is absolutely no information on any of the pages in these links regarding their dissemination to others then I would hazard a guess that it is ok to link to the pages on the “wayback archive”

    • 2012/02/20 9:03 am

      Thanks for the links, Donald, and more background on HI. They really are Orwellian, aren’t they? Starting with their warm & fuzzy sounding name….

      • 2012/02/20 10:12 am

        Just remember the Institute is run by a bunch of very smart legal eagles who are funded by some of the world’s richest people, foundations and corporations; thread carefully.

        Meanwhile … after reading their freely available corporate donor list (in my comments above) … why not read these two links

        Funny how everybody wants to tell teachers what should be taught in schools!!

        Click to access political-interference.pdf

        The above link has a very well written executive summary , so good that it made me read the donor list all over again. 🙂

  8. 2012/02/20 7:49 am

    I have posted links to all the relevant documents on my website and intend to keep them there indefinitely. The public interest in keeping these documents available far outweighs any issues of privacy. The Institute was not engaged in private matters but public matters, and the public has a right to know what it has been financing through the Institute’s tax-exempt status.

    • 2012/02/20 9:04 am

      Good points, Theo.
      Have you heard from Mr. Lakely yet?

      • 2012/02/20 4:49 pm

        No. I’m reminded of a song from the red-baiting era, where every politician urged you to check closets, under beds and in your glove compartments for commie sympathizers. It went,

        Well, you just ain’t nobody at all
        If nobody calls you Red

        I appear to have slipped beneath Heartland’s radar.

  9. Javascap permalink
    2012/02/20 8:28 am

    TVtropes describes it best.

  10. 2012/02/20 8:44 am

    ha,ha,ha, doesn’t your choice of photos just say it all, if you need help with the “legal fund” I’ll gladly chip in but I’m thinking this is “bluster’ coming from the institute.

    • 2012/02/20 9:05 am

      Thanks for the support, Jen, I’ll keep you in mind if it comes to that 🙂

  11. climatehawk1 permalink
    2012/02/20 9:05 am

    I love the photo’s sentiment, especially in this context, but FYI it is apparently photoshopped. See

    • 2012/02/20 9:07 am

      LOL – thanks for the clarification, Climate Hawk. I appreciate the sentiment photo-shopped in, though, so I think I’ll leave it.

      • climatehawk1 permalink
        2012/02/20 11:02 am

        No problem, I concur, certainly not urging that you take it down.

  12. teresamac0 permalink
    2012/02/20 12:27 pm

    Best response ever Christine!

    • 2012/02/20 12:42 pm

      🙂 Thx, Teresa. Don’t poke a mom, you just might rouse an angry bear!

  13. hengistmcstone permalink
    2012/02/20 12:50 pm

    Christine are you actually hosting the docs or just linking in to the DeSmog server ? It’s outrageous in any event.

    • 2012/02/20 2:20 pm

      I originally posted a link to the 2012 Climate Strategy document, but – in deference to my husband’s concerns – I changed it to link to DeSmogblog instead.
      Outrageous, yes, but when did that ever stop a corporate bully?


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