Jim Lakely of Heartland had said on twitter that Heartland had invited Gleick to speak and that Gleick had refused. I asked Lakely if they would provide me with copies of this correspondence (both to confirm their story and to pin down details of the chronology). Lakely has just provided me with this correspondence together with permission to publish.
I am examining further details of this chronology and plan a post summarizing my present interpretation of events, either later today or tomorrow.
On Jan 12, James Taylor of Heartland published a Forbes article, responding to and criticizing Gleick’s Jan 5 article, with an important exchange between Gleick and Taylor taking place in the comments. In his comment, Gleick asked for Heartland’s donor list, with Taylor refusing. In his refusal, Taylor observed that most opposing 501c3’s did not publish their donors.
On Jan 13, Jim Lakely of Heartland invited Gleick to participate in their forthcoming 28th Anniversary Dinner, a dinner that would be attended by Heartland’s supporters and donors. It would presumably have been an opportunity for Gleick to persuade his opponents. Heartland offered Gleick a charitable contribution of $5,000 to the charity of his choice:
>I’ve enjoyed the lively discussion via dueling
>Forbes.com columns and replies between you and James Taylor.
>The Heartland Institute is in the early planning
>stages for our 28th Anniversary Benefit Dinner
>later this year. We usually have a keynote
>speaker or debate for the “entertainment”
>portion of the event, and I was wondering if
>you’d be willing to come to Chicago to debate
>James Taylor. We’d donate $5,000 to the charity
>of your choice in lieu of an honoraria.
>I think such a debate would be enlightening, and
>a lot of fun. Folks at Heartland don’t bite, and
>treat those with whom we disagree with respect.
>(You can ask Scott Denning at Colorado State
>University about how he was treated at our last
>two climate conferences, or
>here to view his words of thanks at our 4th conference.)
>Let me know if this offer is appealing to you,
>and if it might fit your schedule. (Our dinner
>is tentatively scheduled for the second week of August.)
>The Heartland Institute
A few days later (Jan 16), Gleick made a temporizing response, again asking for the donor list. Gleick said that transparency about donors was important to him in accepting speaking engagements.
>From: Peter H. Gleick [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
>Sent: Monday, January 16, 2012 1:39 PM
>To: Jim Lakely; email@example.com; James Taylor
>Subject: Re: Debate Invitation
>Dear Mr. Lakely,
>Thank you for your email of January 13th, 2012,
>inviting me to participate in the Heartland
>Institute’s 28th Anniversary Benefit Dinner.
>In order for me to consider this invitation,
>please let me know if the Heartland Institute
>publishes its financial records and donors for
>the public and where to find this information.
>Such transparency is important to me when I am
>offered a speaking fee (or in this case, a
>comparable donation to a charity). My own
>institution puts this information on our website.
>Also, I would like a little more information
>about the date, venue, and expected audience and
>format. In addition, I assume your offer
>includes all travel and hotel expenses, economy
>class, but can you please confirm this?
>Dr. Peter Gleick
The next day, Lakely responded, confirming that his expenses would be covered as well as the proposed honorarium to a charity. Lakely re-iterated Heartland’s reasons for not disclosing their donor list.
At 03:25 PM 1/17/2012, Jim Lakely wrote:
>Thanks for your reply. Travel and lodging
>expenses would be covered by Heartland. Our
>annual dinner is tentatively set for August.
>This would be a moderated debate, though details
>about the question on the table, the time for
>each side, etc., is yet to be determined.
>I will get back to you on your other questions.
>But I’m sure you’ve seen James M. Taylor’s
>response to the funding questions at Forbes.com
>- a question he has answered publicly many
>times. In short: We used to publicly list our
>donors by name, but stopped a few years ago, in
>part, because people who disagree with The
>Heartland Institute decided to harass our donors in person and via email.
>More donor information from our Web site:
>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.
>Also from our Web site:
>Policies regarding donors: The Heartland
>that limit the role donors may play in the
>selection of research topics, peer review, and
>publication plans of the organization. Heartland
>does not conduct contract research. These
>policies ensure that no Heartland researcher or
>spokesperson is subject to undue pressure from a donor.
>And more donor policy/information from our Web site:
>Q: Why doesn’t Heartland reveal the identities of its donors?
>A: 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.
>After much deliberation and with some regret, we
>now keep confidential the identities of all our
>donors for the following reasons:
>• People who disagree with our views
>have taken to selectively disclosing names of
>donors who they think are unpopular in order to
>avoid addressing the merits of our positions.
>Listing our donors makes this unfair and
>misleading tactic possible. By not disclosing
>our donors, we keep the focus on the issue.
>• We have procedures in place that
>protect our writers and editors from undue
>influence by donors. This makes the identities of our donors irrelevant.
>• We frequently take positions at odds
>with those of the individuals and companies who
>fund us, so it is unfair to them as well as to
>us to mention their funding when expressing our point of view.
>• No corporate donor gives more than 5
>percent of our budget, and most give far less
>than that. We have a diverse funding base that
>is too large to accurately summarize each time we issue a statement.
>And, as you know, we are under no legal
>obligation to release a detailed list of our
>donors – nor is any other non-profit
>organization. Our 990 forms are in full compliance with the IRS.
>The Heartland Institute
On January 27, Gleick declined Heartland’s invitation.
From: Peter H. Gleick
Sent: Fri 1/27/2012 9:33 AM
To: Jim Lakely
Subject: RE: Debate Invitation
Dear Mr. Lakely,
After reviewing your email and after serious
consideration, I must decline your invitation to
participate in the August fundraising event for the Heartland Institute.
I think the seriousness of the threat of climate
change is too important to be considered the
“entertainment portion of the event” as you
describe it, for the amusement of your donors.
Perhaps more importantly, the lack of
transparency about the financial support for the
Heartland Institute is at odds with my belief in
transparency, especially when your Institute and
its donors benefit from major tax breaks at the expense of the public.
Thank you for considering me.
Dr. Peter Gleick
Around the same time as Gleick refused Heartland’s invitation, he (presumably) sent an email to an administrator at Heartland, in which Gleick impersonated a Heartland board member and changed the email destination of the Heartland board member, subsequently obtaining board documents. [Update: I don’t “know” that Gleick’s diversion was by email; it is, I suppose, possible based-on-present-information-in-a-Nick-Stokes-sense that Gleick phoned Heartland or sent a message by smoke signals, but, until the point is directly confirmed, I don’t “know” that it was by email.}
Unaware of Gleick’s deception, on January 28, Lakely sent Gleick a cordial acknowledgement.
From: Jim Lakely
Sent: Saturday, January 28, 2012 8:06 PM
To: Peter H. Gleick
Subject: RE: Debate Invitation
I’m sorry to hear that you’ve declined our invitation, but I am thankful that you gave it serious consideration. If you’d ever like to engage in a public debate with a Heartland scholar on the topic of climate change, our door is always open.
As for the “entertainment” bit … I think you misunderstand. That word was not intended to make frivolous what Heartland does — in general, or certainly at our annual benefit dinner. We’re a think tank. We love debate, and thrive on intellectual back-and-forth. To me, and our supporters, such a stimulating discussion IS ALSO entertaining. Learning should ever be so.
Regardless, the invitation to our benefit dinner is open. We’ll happily comp you two tickets if you’d like to come to one of the world’s greatest cities for a day of leisure and an evening with Heartland’s scholars, staffers and supporters.
The Heartland Institute