After encouraging his audience to “network the heck out of the people you’ve met” at the conference, Bast seemed to acknowledge the billboard controversy, saying that this year’s sponsors were “courageous.” He then proceeded to single out two of them.
“The Heritage Foundation came on board as a co-sponsor this year,” Bast said. “We really appreciate that. They’re a class organization and it was a real vote of support for what we’re doing. And the Illinois Coal Association came on board this year, much to the distress of our liberal critics. ‘Oh my God, the coal industry is funding this conference!’ Well, I would like to personally thank the Illinois Coal Association for its $500, which is the first-ever gift we’ve gotten from [them]. I sure hope it’s not the last gift that we get from them.”
Then, the real fireworks started.
“Please consider supporting the Heartland Institute,” Bast said. “These conferences are expensive and I’m not a good fundraiser. As a result, I don’t raise enough money to cover them and we really scramble to make payroll in order to cover these expenses. So, if you can afford to make a contribution, please do. If you know someone, if you’ve got a rich uncle or somebody in the family or somebody that you work with, please give them a call and ask them if they would consider making a tax-deductible donation to the Heartland Institute. We would really, really appreciate it.”
After praising his staff members and soliciting applause for them, Bast concluded: “A lot of people came up to me and said this was the best conference ever, it’s extremely well run. I really appreciate that. It’s a vote of support for our efforts. I hope to see you at a future conference, but at this point we have no plans to do another ICCC, okay? So, have a great day.”
Reacting to Bast’s announcement, Brad Johnson, campaign manager for Forecast the Facts — a climate change advocacy group that’s been leading an advertiser boycott of Heartland — said in an advisory that he “welcomes” the conference’s demise.
“On behalf of our 20,000 members, Forecast the Facts welcomes the demise of the Heartland Institute’s climate change denial conferences,” Johnson said. “Unfortunately, decades of corporate support for Heartland’s efforts have seriously damaged our nation’s ability to respond to the crisis of global warming. Which is why we will redouble our demands that major corporations like Pfizer and Comcast join the long-overdue exodus from the Heartland Institute.”
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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