In the wake of the appalling and short-lived billboards put up by the Heartland Institute that claimed that those who accept the reality of man-made global warming were serial killers and terrorists, some corporate sponsors are pulling their funding of the organization. State Farm posted on its Facebook page:
State Farm is ending its association with the Heartland Institute. This is because of a recent billboard campaign launched by the Institute.
And that’s just the beginning. It was too much even for Rep. James Sensenbrenner, one of the most outspoken climate change deniers in the Republican party. He’s pulled out of an upcoming conference in response to the campaign.
Now the Heartland Institute has suffered its first major defection in the way of GOP public officials: GOP Rep. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, a leading climate “skeptic,” will be pulling out of an upcoming conference sponsored by the group where he was supposed to speak, his spokesperson confirms to me.
A large group of insurers is also pulling its support and hammering the group as it does:
Growing unease among insurers crystallized late last week when Heartland purchased the first billboard in a campaign that likened climate advocacy to murder, terrorism and despotism. The electronic highway-side ad displayed a picture of Ted Kaczynski, who killed three people, next to the words “I still believe in Global Warming. Do you?”
“It was disgusting. It was revolting,” Brad Kading, president of the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers, said of the ad in an interview over the weekend. “It was a terrible mistake.”
His group, which donated $125,000 to Heartland over the last two years, told the libertarian president of Heartland, Joe Bast, that their relationship is “untenable” in a letter Friday evening.
And even some of their own staff is furious and apparently preparing to leave the group:
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.
“I don’t know what the goal was,” Lehmann said of the ad, which he called an “ad hominem attack” on climate advocates. “But it certainly was outside our project, and it did reflect badly.”
The Bermuda association is the only insurance group to publicly announce its withdrawal from Heartland as of Sunday, but others are already canceling their support as Lehrer completes his separation from the Chicago group, according to a source at one insurance company that is terminating its sponsorship.
“All of the insurers and reinsurers that funded Eli are either in the process of withdrawing funding from Heartland or are considering doing so,” said the source, who asked not be identified. “I think everybody’s reaction [to the billboard] was one of disgust and shock. It was the last straw for everybody.”
Lehrer was largely responsible for raising $1.03 million from insurers over the last two years for programs that seek reduced government subsidies in federal flood insurance, decreased development along coastlines and increased funding for efforts to strengthen homes against natural catastrophes…
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.”
Good. I hope it continues.