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Rauner-Funded Group Pushing Fake Science on Illinois Schools

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Rauner’s Family Foundation Gave $100,000 to the Heartland Institute, Extreme Climate Change Deniers

 Rauner Still Silent on President Trump’s Environmental Actions

 This morning the Daily Herald reported that the Heartland Institute came under fire from four U.S. Senators for mailing materials to teachers across the country “criticizing the conclusion that humans are causing climate change.” The Herald also spoke with an Illinois teacher at Northlake High School who actually received the materials, which he said pushed “debunked” theories.

The story missed an interesting connection, though. The Heartland Institute has been pushing climate change denial information since at least 2011, sponsoring conferences and buying billboards that compared environmentalists to the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski. Around that same time, the Heartland Institute received $100,000 from Bruce Rauner’s family foundation.

This has to be awkward for the self-styled education governor – an organization that Rauner’s foundation generously supported is pushing fake science on the schools of Illinois, which Rauner is supposed to be overseeing.

Recently, the Heartland Institute declared victory after President Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris climate agreement, something Governor Rauner has avoided answering questions about. Perhaps the students of Illinois should hear unequivocally where their Governor stands.

“It is unacceptable for Bruce Rauner’s right-wing allies to push an anti-science ideology on Illinois schools,” said DGA Illinois Communications Director Sam Salustro. “Governor Rauner must immediately condemn the actions of the Heartland Institute, explain the reason for his $100,000 donation, and take an unequivocal stance on President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement. If he fails to lead, then he is guilty of putting politics before the people of Illinois and can never claim to be a friend of the environment again.” 



Rauner Family Foundation Has Granted $100,000 to the Heartland Institute. According to its 990 forms, the Rauner Family Foundation has granted $100,000 to the Heartland Institute from 2012 to 2013. [Rauner Family Foundation, IRS 990, 2012Rauner Family Foundation, IRS 990, 2013]

  • 2012: Rauner Family Foundation Granted $50,000 to the Heartland Institute. According to its 2012 IRS 990 form, the Rauner Family Foundation granted $50,000 to the Heartland Institute in 2012. [Rauner Family Foundation, IRS 990, 2012]
  • 2013: Rauner Family Foundation Granted $50,000 to the Heartland Institute. According to its 2013 IRS 990 form, the Rauner Family Foundation granted $50,000 to the Heartland Institute in 2013. [Rauner Family Foundation, IRS 990, 2013]

2017 HEADLINE: Climate Change Skeptic Group Seeks to Influence 200,000 Teachers. [PBS, 3/28/17]

2017 Heartland Institute Sent Teachers Book Called “Why Scientists Disagree about Global Warming.” According to PBS, “Twenty-five thousand science teachers opened their mailboxes this month and found a package from the Heartland Institute, a libertarian think tank that rejects the scientific consensus on climate change. It contained the organization’s book ‘Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming,’ as well as a DVD rejecting the human role in climate change and arguing instead that rising temperatures have been caused primarily by natural phenomena. The material will be sent to an additional 25,000 teachers every two weeks until every public-school science teacher in the nation has a copy, Heartland president and CEO Joseph Bast said in an interview last week. If so, the campaign would reach more than 200,000 K-12 science teachers.” [PBS, 3/28/17] 

2012: Heartland Institute is “Skeptical of Climate Change Science,” Joined with ALEC to Write Legislation Aimed at Reversing Renewable Energy Mandates. According to the Washington Post, “The Heartland Institute, a libertarian think tank skeptical of climate change science, has joined with the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council to write model legislation aimed at reversing state renewable energy mandates across the country.” [Washington Post, 11/24/12] 

2012: The Heartland Institute Paid For Several Billboards “Likening Supporters Of Climate Change Science To Murderers, Terrorists, And A Dictator.” According to the Hartford Courant, “Several insurers and a Connecticut-based beverage company have halted their financial support of The Heartland Institute after it paid for billboard advertisements likening supporters of climate change science to murderers, terrorists and a dictator. The Chicago-based Heartland Institute announced last week that it paid for billboards in Chicago featuring Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, Charles Manson and Fidel Castro with each saying “I still believe in global warming. do you?” The self-proclaimed free-market think tank planned to feature Osama bin Laden in a billboard at some point in the future. The cast of villains was picked “because what these murderers and madmen have said differs very little from what spokespersons for the United Nations, journalists for the ‘mainstream’ media, and liberal politicians say about global warming,” the organization wrote.” [Hartford Courant, 5/9/12]   

June 2011; Heartland Institute Held A Conference To “Dispute The Claim That Global Warming Is A Crisis.” According to the Chicago Tribune, “In June, the Heartland Institute organized the Sixth International Conference in Washington on Climate Change, with a primary objective to “dispute the claim that global warming is a crisis.” In 2008, the organization published a report titled “Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate.”” [Chicago Tribune, 10/6/11]