Non-profit

Heartland Institute

Location:

ARLINGTON HTS, IL

Tax ID:

36-3309812

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2016):

Revenue: $5,480,656
Expenses: $5,524,414
Assets: $1,762,166

The Heartland Institute is a think tank based in Illinois that promotes right-of-center approaches to economic and social problems. The Institute focuses on limiting government involvement in markets and society. [1]

The Institute publishes research that argues that climate change caused by human activity is minimal and that the side effects of climate change are not as severe as left-of-center scientists and activists claim. [2] Heartland also claims that regulatory restrictions on tobacco and nicotine products are excessive. [3] The Institute has come under extensive criticism from left-of-center activist groups for its alleged ties to oil, tobacco, and other industries that left-of-center activists consider harmful to society. The Institute acknowledges donations from these industries but denies any influence from them on the Institute’s research. [4]

History

The Heartland Institute was founded in 1984 by Chicago, Illinois businessman David Padden. Padden had previously worked for several right-of-center think tanks, including the Foundation for Economic Education and the libertarian Cato Institute. [5] Heartland initially focused on problems affecting the Midwest, but eventually expanded its scope to national-level issues and international environmentalist policy. [6]

Policies

The Heartland Institute studies 20 different topics ranging from climate change to consumer choice to interpretations of the Constitution. [7]

The Institute’s Center on Climate and Environmental Policy refutes the idea that climate change due to human activity is a crisis requiring government intervention. The Center has declared that “the global warming crisis is over” and supports the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, a self-described “red team” and fact-checker to the International Panel on Climate Change. [8]

The Institute claims that “overcriminalization” by the American justice system “penalizes many people unnecessarily.” Heartland opposes civil asset forfeiture, a process by which law enforcement agencies can seize someone’s property, even if they have not been convicted of a crime, on mere suspicion of criminal activity. The Institute says that this may violate due process and create corrupt incentives for law enforcement. The Institute also asserts the importance of the Second Amendment and argues that some existing gun control measures are unconstitutional. [9]

The Institute acknowledges that “smoking poses well-known health risks” and “is habit-forming.” The Heartland Institute also supports restricting smoking only to adults. Nonetheless, Heartland claims that smoking bans, excise taxes, and other policies “have gone well beyond reasonable measures to discourage smoking.” The Institute’s “Consumer Freedom Lounge” project conducts research into allegedly excessive government restrictions on smoking, vaping, and alcohol use. [10]

The Institute’s Center for Education Opportunities promotes alternatives to public education, claiming that “one-size-fits-all standards” and teachers’ unions “frustrate the best and brightest while protecting incompetent and even dangerous teachers.” The Center also advocates for replacing the Common Core education standards implemented by the Obama administration in 2010. [11]

The Institute’s Center for Constitutional Reform evaluates ways to revise the Constitution or change the relationship between the federal government and states. The Center identifies two methods defined in the Constitution: an Article V convention of states and an amendment approved by Congress. The Center also evaluates the merits of an informal compact between states, as well as nullification, which involves states refusing to recognize certain federal laws. [12]

Impact

The Heartland Institute promotes itself as having broad bipartisan appeal, despite being right-of-center on most issues. According to the Institute’s own surveys, 78% of state elected officials report “sometimes” or “always” reading Heartland publications, and 45% say that something they read from Heartland influenced their policy views. The Institute also claims that 81% of Democratic state legislators have read a Heartland publication at least once, and 45% of those said the publication influenced their opinions. While Heartland does not consider its legislator outreach to be lobbying, it reported almost 1 million contacts with elected officials in 2019, including more than 9,000 direct contacts and more than 2,600 face-to-face meetings. [13]

Content from the Heartland Institute appeared in the media more than 4,800 times in 2019. The Institute reported at least 5 million downloads of its podcasts and 2.6 million views on YouTube and at least 1 million reposts of its content on Facebook every week that year. Heartland also hosted or participated in more than 150 events across the country in 2018, and claims to have reached at least 34,000 people through them. [14]

Criticism

The Heartland Institute maintains a section of its website with extensive rebuttals to its critics, whom it describes as “left-wing advocates” who “object to our principled stand in defense of individual liberty.” The Institute denies being “funded by the Koch Brothers,” but acknowledges that it received a $25,000 donation from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation in 2012. Heartland denies any unethical influence on its work from the oil industry, and has published responses to groups such as Greenpeace, InsideClimate News and the Union of Concerned Scientists. The Institute does not deny that it has received donations of $50,000 a year from the energy company ExxonMobil for “about a decade,” but also points out that ExxonMobil ended its donations “precisely because we concluded man-made climate change is not a crisis,” which contradicted the firm’s own assessment that “climate change may be a crisis.” [15]

The Heartland Institute also denies claims of influence from the tobacco industry, particularly the firm Philip Morris. The Institute confirms that a former board member worked for Philip Morris and secured donations to Heartland from “others in the company” because the Institute opposes high taxes on cigarettes. Nonetheless, Heartland denies that this presented a conflict of interest, noting that all nonprofit organizations include corporate executives on their boards “with the expectation” that they help secure financial support. [16]

In February 2012, the left-wing environmentalist DeSmogBlog released leaked documents with information on the Heartland Institute’s donors and climate policy objectives. [17] DeSmogBlog claimed that the documents came from an insider at the Institute. In response, Heartland claimed that at least one of the documents had been forged. [18]

Leadership

In March 2020, the Heartland Institute laid off a number of staff members and accepted the resignation of then-president Frank Lasée. The board of directors appointed Center on Climate and Environmental Policy director James Taylor as new president and former Institute communications director Jim Lakely as the new vice president.

Joseph Morris is the board chair of the Heartland Institute. He previously served as Assistant Attorney General and Director of the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Liaison Services under the Reagan administration. He was also a delegate to the United Nations Convention on Human Rights. [19]

Finances

In 2006, the Heartland Institute announced that it would no longer publicly declare its funders. However, leaked 2012 documents showed that donors such as software giant Microsoft and pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKlein had given between $50,000 and $60,000 to the Institute. [20] Heartland also received $50,000 annual donations from the energy company ExxonMobil for approximately ten years until 2007. An anonymous donor contributed at least $7.2 million between 2008 and 2011. [21] In 2018, the Heartland Institute received more than $5.7 million in donations and more than $5.8 million in total revenue. [22]

References

  1.    The Heartland Institute. Accessed February 25, 2021. https://www.heartland.org/index.html ^
  2.             “Arthur B. Robinson Center On Climate And Environmental Policy,” The Heartland Institute. Accessed February 25, 2021. https://www.heartland.org/Center-Climate-Environment/ ^
  3.       “Consumer Freedom Lounge,” The Heartland Institute. Accessed February 25, 2021. https://www.heartland.org/Alcohol-Tobacco/index.html ^
  4.        “Reply To Critics,” The Heartland Institute. Accessed February 25, 2021. https://www.heartland.org/about-us/reply-to-critics/index.html ^
  5.          David Boaz, “David H. Padden, R.I.P.,” Cato Institute, October 4, 2011. Accessed February 25, 2021. https://www.cato.org/blog/david-h-padden-rip ^
  6.           Trevor Quirk, “Explainer: What is the Heartland Institute?,” Christian Science Monitor, February 16, 2012. Accessed February 25, 2021. https://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2012/0216/Explainer-What-is-the-Heartland-Institute ^
  7.    The Heartland Institute. Accessed February 25, 2021. https://www.heartland.org/index.html ^
  8.           “Arthur B. Robinson Center On Climate And Environmental Policy,” The Heartland Institute. Accessed February 25, 2021. https://www.heartland.org/Center-Climate-Environment/ ^
  9.        “Criminal Justice,” The Heartland Institute. Accessed February 25, 2021. https://www.heartland.org/topics/criminal-justice/index.html ^
  10.            “Consumer Freedom Lounge,” The Heartland Institute. Accessed February 25, 2021. https://www.heartland.org/Alcohol-Tobacco/index.html ^
  11. “Center for Education Opportunities,” The Heartland Institute. Accessed February 25, 2021. https://www.heartland.org/Center-Education/index.html ^
  12.        “Center For Constitutional Reform,” The Heartland Institute. Accessed February 25, 2021. https://www.heartland.org/Center-Constitutional-Reform/ ^
  13.        “What We Do,” The Heartland Institute. Accessed February 25, 2021. https://www.heartland.org/about-us/what-we-do/index.html ^
  14.         “What We Do,” The Heartland Institute. Accessed February 25, 2021. https://www.heartland.org/about-us/what-we-do/index.html ^
  15.            “Reply To Critics,” The Heartland Institute. Accessed February 25, 2021. https://www.heartland.org/about-us/reply-to-critics/index.html ^
  16.        “Reply To Critics,” The Heartland Institute. Accessed February 25, 2021. https://www.heartland.org/about-us/reply-to-critics/index.html ^
  17.         Brendan DeMelle, “Heartland Institute Exposed: Internal Documents Unmask Heart of Climate Denial Machine,” DeSmog, February 14, 2012. Accessed February 24, 2021. https://www.desmogblog.com/heartland-institute-exposed-internal-documents-unmask-heart-climate-denial-machine ^
  18.     Suzanne Goldenberg, “Leak exposes how Heartland Institute works to undermine climate science,” The Guardian, February 14, 2012. Accessed February 24, 2021. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/feb/15/leak-exposes-heartland-institute-climate ^
  19.             “Joseph A. Morris,” The Heartland Institute. Accessed February 25, 2021. https://www.heartland.org/about-us/who-we-are/joseph-a-morris ^
  20.            Trevor Quirk, “Explainer: What is the Heartland Institute?,” Christian Science Monitor, February 16, 2012. Accessed February 25, 2021. https://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2012/0216/Explainer-What-is-the-Heartland-Institute ^
  21.           “Reply To Critics,” The Heartland Institute. Accessed February 25, 2021. https://www.heartland.org/about-us/reply-to-critics/index.html ^
  22.            Heartland Institute IRS Form 990, 2018. Accessed February 25, 2021. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/display_990/363309812/10_2019_prefixes_34-36%2F363309812_201812_990_2019100816727716 ^
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: December 1, 1984

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2016 Dec Form 990 $5,480,656 $5,524,414 $1,762,166 $744,809 Y $5,350,800 $47,978 $1,288 $0
    2015 Dec Form 990 $4,398,175 $5,770,366 $1,799,732 $738,617 Y $4,570,630 $54,561 $2,360 $0 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $6,738,428 $4,393,358 $2,985,124 $551,818 N $6,890,995 $68,467 $947 $0 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $4,783,310 $4,422,355 $697,671 $609,435 Y $4,805,449 $41,367 $2,932 $0 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $5,329,115 $5,444,312 $482,571 $755,290 Y $5,202,679 $70,245 $6,997 $0 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $4,573,631 $5,204,877 $330,493 $488,015 Y $4,524,164 $90,822 $1,681 $0 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Heartland Institute

    3939 N WILKE RD
    ARLINGTON HTS, IL 60004-1275