Last month, a cache of internal fundraising documents revealed that the Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based think tank, operated essentially as a pay-to-play front for polluters. The Heartland Institute has played a major role over the years in shaping the debate over climate change, aggressively arguing that greenhouse gases do no contribute to the warming of the planet. The documents, however, show that industry groups finance Heartland in exchange for industry-friendly policy on a range of topics, from climate change to telecom policy to health care.

At the California Republican Party spring convention in Burlingame, Republic Report caught up with the chief investigator in the House of Representatives, Congressman Darrell Issa. In 2009, Oversight Committee members, including Issa and Rep. Dan Burton, called for an investigation into the politicization of climate science after the so-called Climategate scandal (the scientists involved in that leak were later exonerated following an investigation). In his demand for a Climategate investigation, Issa stressed the importance that “U.S. policies are not driven by corrupted science and data.”

So we asked Issa if he would follow-up and issue a call for a new investigation into the Heartland Institute, given his interest in ensuring sound science:

FANG: Congressman, several members of your Oversight committee called for investigations into the so-called Climategate scandal two years ago. Now, in the last three weeks, there’s been a big scandal around the Heartland Foundation; a lot of industry groups, like Koch Industries, have funded this front group–

ISSA: You know I appreciate you being here as an operative for the Democratic Party, thank you–

FANG: I’m not an operative, I go after both parties. Now, would you answer my question about the Heartland Foundation? Would you investigate this new scandal?

ISSA: I’ve had over 800 investigations at some point. We’re continuing to do that. If you start naming companies and individuals, two brothers, you know you’ve crossed the line.

FANG: Well, Phillip Morris–

Watch it:

Issa’s bizarre declaration that he would not investigate Heartland because of its Koch Industries funding seems to suggest that he is running defense for the company, which has given him thousands in campaign contributions.

For the record, I am not an “operative for the Democratic Party.” I have published many critical pieces concerning Democratic lawmakers, lobbyists, and I am just behind Glenn Beck in confronting former White House communications director Anita Dunn.

Issa may have dismissed my question because I was the first to report on Issa’s earmark corruption and his insider trading, two stories that later became the centerpiece of a major New York Times expose on Issa’s many conflicts of interest last August.

Filed under: Lobbying

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