Microsoft Disavows Heartland Institute’s Climate Denial, Says Contributions Just ‘Free Software Licenses’

One in a series of posts about the Heartland Institute’s inner workings, from internal documents acquired by ThinkProgress Green.

On Tuesday, ThinkProgress Green exposed Microsoft Corporation as one of the funders of the Heartland Institute listed in internal documents of the right-wing think tank. The Heartland Institute promotes radical anti-science conspiracy theories asserting that global warming is a hoax, in sharp contrast to Microsoft’s public position on climate change.

A Microsoft spokesman contacted ThinkProgress Green to clarify the nature of the company’s support for the Heartland Institute, explaining that the $59,908 tax-deductible contribution recorded for 2011 came in the form of software licenses available to “any eligible non-profit organization”:

As part of our global nonprofit software donation program, Microsoft provides free software licenses upon request to any eligible non-profit organization. In Fiscal Year 2011, Microsoft donated $844 million in software to 44,000 nonprofits around the world. As part of that program, the organization requested free software licenses, and Microsoft provided them, just like we do for thousands of other eligible non-profits every year.

Microsoft’s position on climate change remains unchanged. Microsoft believes climate change is a serious issue that demands immediate, worldwide attention and we are acting accordingly. We are pursuing strategies and taking actions that are consistent with a strong commitment to reducing our own impact as well as the impact of our products. In addition, Microsoft has adopted a broad policy statement on climate change that expresses support for government action to create market-based mechanisms to address climate change.

The Microsoft spokesman also explained the the “Gold Sponsor” contribution that Microsoft made to Koch’s Americans For Prosperity in 2011 was similarly in the form of free software licenses.

Microsoft’s software donation program states that eligible non-profits “have a mission to benefit the local community” including, but not limited to “advancing education” or “preserving or restoring the environment.”


ThinkProgress is among several publications to have published documents related to the Heartland Institute. The documents were sent to us from an anonymous source, and the identity of the source was unknown to ThinkProgress at the time. The source later revealed himself on February 20, 2012. Heartland Institute has issued several press releases claiming that one document (“2012 Climate Strategy”) is fake and asserting other claims regarding the other documents. ThinkProgress has taken down the “2012 Climate Strategy” document as it works to determine the document’s origination.

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