Institute for Liberty

Institute for Liberty (IFL)

Background

The Institute For Liberty (IFL) is a Washington D.C. think tank known for its opposition health care reform. It promotes a free-market approach to maintaining the health care system in the U.S.

The IFL was founded in 2005 with a focus on technology policy and national security issues. According to its website, IFL’s philosophy is “one of keeping the government focused on the primary mission of making sure our nation is safe, while keeping it from unnecessarily interfering in the daily lives of America’s entrepreneurs.”

IFL President Andrew Langer, a former lobbyist, has worked with FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity to sponsor early Tea Party events in Washington, and published a guide titled “How to Brew a Tea Party.”

As part of its “track record,” IFL describes how it “Joined the team countering the Administration’s move to classify CO2 as a pollutant, has commented on the impact of new ozone regulations on energy prices, and is working to frame the importance of this issue to small business.”1About IFL,” Institute for Liberty. Archived October 25, 2015. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/NHJS7

Stance on Climate Change

“What’s the man-made portion of the climate changing? […] You’ve got credible scientists who are saying it’s actually very small. And in point of fact, the changes that we’re going to be making, the proposals we’re making in order to abate that very small part of it, will cost a tremendous amount of money.”2Andrew Langer Talks Climate Change Policy on WITF,” YouTube video uploaded by InstituteForLiberty on February 28, 2010. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

Funding

According to IFL President Andrew Langer, the group receives no funding from health care firms, but he has declined to provide details. His comment in 2010 was that “This year has been really serendipitous for us. But we don’t talk about specific donors.” In 2008, the group brought in less than $25,000 in revenue.3Dan Eggen. “How interest groups behind health-care legislation are financed is often unclear,” The Washington Post, January 7, 2010. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/puf75

Conservative Transparency has two transactions on file for the Institute for Liberty, both donations from the Center to Protect Patient Rights:4The Institute for Liberty,Conservative Transparency. Accessed May 22, 2017.

  • 2010 — $457,000
  • 2009 — $1,495,000

The Center to Protect Patient Rights (later known as American Encore) was subsequently revealed to be closely connected to the Koch network and DCI Group.

990 Forms

Key People

Leadership/Staff

As of October, 2015, the Institute for Liberty only sited two staff members:5Our Leadership,” Institute for Liberty. Archived October 25, 2015. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/WueQE

  • Andrew Langer — President
  • Jerry Rogers — Vice-President for Advancement

Previous Staff members, as of June, 2012, also included:6Our Leadership,” Institute for Liberty. Archived June 20, 2012. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/C6Svs

  • Peter Roff — Senior Fellow in Strategic Policy
  • Roger Morse — Senior Fellow in Political Economy
  • Horace Cooper — Senior Fellow In Legal Policy

Actions

April 6, 2020

IfL, represented by Andrew Langer, was signatory to an American Energy Alliance letter to President Donald Trump supporting the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule which would scrap federal fuel economy mandates under the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) program.7CAFE-Coaliton-to-Trump-April-2020-9 (PDF), American Energy Alliance.

Describing CAFE, the letter contends: “Those families and individuals who prefer or need trucks, SUVs, and crossovers pay more to subsidize those who buy smaller vehicles or electric vehicles under the existing mandate. This significant, needless, and unjust cost is a very real regressive tax on American families that has made our country worse off.”8CAFE-Coaliton-to-Trump-April-2020-9 (PDF), American Energy Alliance.

January 12, 2017

IFL President Andrew Langer was a signatory to a January 12, 2017 official letter of support (PDF) for Scott Pruitt, in which numerous groups, including The Heartland Institute, American Energy Alliance (AEA), and others, declared that the Senate should “swiftly approve his nomination” for Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Other signatories of the letter included:9“Dear Senators,” (PDF), Competitive Enterprise Institute, January 12, 2017. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

June 13, 2016

The Institute for Liberty was listed as a creditor in Peabody Energy’s 2016 bankruptcy filings, reports the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD/PRWatch).10Nick Surgey. “Peabody Coal Bankruptcy Reveals Climate Denial Network Funding,” PRWatch, June 13, 2016. Archived June 20, 2016. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/a73wj

While the available bankruptcy documents do not list the scale or dates of funding, they outline Peabody Energy’s financial ties to a large network of groups promoting climate change denial.11In re: Peabody Energy Corporation, et al. Debtors,” United States Bankruptcy Court Eastern District of Missouri Eastern Division, Case 16-42529, May 27, 2016. Retrieved from DocumentCloud.

Prominent individuals appearing in the documents include climate deniers Willie Soon, Richard Lindzen, Roy Spencer and Richard Berman. The long list of organizations also includes groups such as Americans for Prosperity, American Legislative Exchange Council, CFACT, Institute for Energy Research, State Policy Network, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and dozens more.12Farron Cousins. “Court Documents Show Coal Giant Peabody Energy Funded Dozens Of Climate Denial Groups,” DeSmog, June 13, 2016.

The Guardian also analysed and reported on the Peabody bankruptcy findings:13Suzanne Goldenberg and Helena Bengtsson. “Biggest US coal company funded dozens of groups questioning climate change,” The Guardian, June 13, 2016. Archived June 20, 2016. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/pw7On

“These groups collectively are the heart and soul of climate denial,” said Kert Davies, founder of the Climate Investigation Center, who has spent 20 years tracking funding for climate denial. “It’s the broadest list I have seen of one company funding so many nodes in the denial machine.”

The company’s filings reveal funding for a range of organisations which have fought Barack Obama’s plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and denied the very existence of climate change. […]

Among Peabody’s beneficiaries, the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change has insisted – wrongly – that carbon emissions are not a threat but “the elixir of life” while the American Legislative Exchange Council is trying to overturn Environmental Protection Agency rules cutting emissions from power plants. Meanwhile, Americans for Prosperity campaigns against carbon pricing. The Oklahoma chapter was on the list. […]

“The breadth of the groups with financial ties to Peabody is extraordinary. Thinktanks, litigation groups, climate scientists, political organisations, dozens of organisations blocking action on climate all receiving funding from the coal industry,” said Nick Surgey, director of research for the Center for Media and Democracy.

“We expected to see some denial money, but it looks like Peabody is the treasury for a very substantial part of the climate denial movement.”

Notable organizations listed in the initial documents include:

Notable individuals named in the initial documents include the following:

February 2015

Representatives from The Liberty Institutes spoke at a Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at Maryland’s National Harbor. New Republic reports that an entire panel was devoted to “’What Tom Steyer Won’t Tell You’ about climate change.”14Rebecca Leber. “Tom Steyer Is the Devil,” New Republic, February 27, 2015. Archived October 24, 2015. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/ZjuOn

Representatives at the conferences included speakers from Institute for Liberty, Heritage Foundation, and Murray Energy (which was behind numerous lawsuits against the EPA).

“Tom Steyer is a billionaire based in California,” Institute for Liberty President Andrew Langer said. “He argues for greater regulation on his competitors and forces to get subsidies for his green energy boondoggles.”

May 21–23, 2012

The Institute for Liberty is listed as a co-sponsor of the Heartland Institute‘s Seventh International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC7).15Cosponsors,” 7th International Conference on Climate Change. Archived May 10, 2012. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/VAY3r

June 30–July 1, 2011

The Institute for Liberty was a co-sponsor of the Heartland Institute‘s Sixth International Conference on Climate Change in Washington, DC.

DeSmog found that 17 of the 43 sponsors of the Heartland Institute’s Sixth International Conference on Climate Change, including the Heartland Institute itself, had collectively received over $46 million from either Scaife Foundations, Koch Foundations, or ExxonMobil.16Brendan DeMelle. “Denial-a-Palooza 6: Heartland’s Sixth International Conference on Climate Change, Courtesy of Koch, Scaife & Exxon,” DeSmog, June 30, 2011.

May 16–18, 2010

The Institute for Liberty was a co-sponsor of the Heartland Institute’s Fourth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC4).17Co-Sponsors,” The 2009 International Conference on Climate Change. Archived April 28, 2011.

DeSmog concluded 19 of the 65 sponsors (including Heartland itself) had received a total of over $40 million in funding since 1985 from ExxonMobil (who funded 13 of the organizations), and/or Koch Industries family foundations (funded 10 organizations) and/or the Scaife family foundations (funded 10 organizations).18Brendan DeMelle. “Denial-a-palooza Round 4: ‘International Conference on Climate Change’ Groups Funded by Exxon, Koch Industries,” DeSmog, May 13, 2010.

2010

Supported Monsanto in easing federal restrictions on the company’s pesticide-resistant alfalfa. Langer stated that he would “to try out our grass-roots method on that, and frame it as a dairy issue and access to affordable food.”19Mike McIntire. “Odd Alliance: Business Lobby and Tea Party” (page 2), The New York Times, March 30, 2011. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/YllDe

As part of that initiative, Langer published an article in the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call, where he contends that “Genetically modified crops are the economically sound and environmentally safe answer to increasing food production — specifically herbicide-resistant crops.”20Andrew Langer. “Langer: Agriculture’s Future Is Steeped in Science,” Roll Call, June 7, 2010. Archived June 23, 2016. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/nJUWj

IFL’s web site urged members to speak up and Langer also filed a petition with the Department of Agriculture.

A 2011 New York Times article revealed that the petition, which included 8,052 comments that had been collected by telephone, may not have been an accurate representation of the participants’ views. The comments, although placed under different names, were identical and all began with “I was recently contacted by the Institute for Liberty and asked if I would be willing to lend my voice in support of moving these types of alfalfa to nonregulated status.”

When the Times looked at a random sample of the names, three had been deceased at the time the comments were submitted, and others had no idea their names had been used.

“I vaguely remember responding to a survey as to whether or not the affordability of food for my family was important to me,” one participant said, “But that is far different than setting myself up as an authority on specific genetically engineered crops and authorizing my name for submission on form letters.”

July 4, 2009

The Institute for Liberty was one of a group of conservative organizations including FreedomWorks that attended a march by the Tea Party at the Capitol to protest health care reform.21Ed Hornick. “‘Tea Party Express’ trucks on with tour aimed at health care,” CNN, August 28, 2009. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/uf5m0

June 2, 2009

The Institute for Liberty was a co-sponsor of the Heartland Institute’s Third International Conference on Climate Change.22Co-Sponsors,” Third International Conference on Climate Change. Archived July 14, 2010. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/7M3LQ

March 8–10, 2009

The Institute for Liberty was a co-sponsor of the Heartland Institute‘s Second International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC2) in New York.23Co-Sponsors,” The 2009 International Conference on Climate Change. Archived April 28, 2011. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/8pEf7

DeSmog investigated sponsors of the event, and found that they had collectively received over $47 million in funding from energy companies and right-wing foundations, with 78% of that total coming from Scaife Family foundations.24Heartland Institute’s 2009 Climate Conference in New York: funding history of the sponsors,” DeSmog.

March 2–4, 2008

The Independent Institute was a co-sponsor of the Heartland Institute’s First International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC1) in New York.25Sponsorships,” The 2008 International Conference on climate Change. Archived June 10, 2011. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/bxDic

Institute for Liberty Contact & Location

As of June 2016, the Institute for Liberty listed the following contact information on its website:26Contact Us,” Institute for Liberty. Archived June 29, 2016. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/t8mN6

The Institute For Liberty
1250 Connecticut Ave, NW,
Suite 200 Washington, DC 20036
P: (202) 261-6592
F: (877) 350-6147

According to SourceWatch, cross checking the phone number of IFL leads to several associations: Competitive Enterprise Institute, National Taxpayers Union, and Institute For Liberty Co-Sponsor NoClimateTax.com Pledge.27Institute for Liberty,” SourceWatch profile. Accessed October 24, 2015.

The Institute for Liberty is also behind the Consumer Alliance for Global Prosperity.28Mike McIntire. “Odd Alliance: Business Lobby and Tea Party” (page 2), The New York Times, March 30, 2011. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/YllDe

Other Resources

Resources

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