Barre Seid

Barre Seid

Credentials

  • Honorary Doctorate, Bar-Ilan University.
  • Attended University of Chicago.
  • Attended University of Colorado.
  • Attended Wharton Graduate School, University of Pennsylvania.

Source: [1]

Background

Barre Seid is an American Industrialist and past chairman and CEO of Trippe Lite (formerly Trippe Manufacturing Company), a surge protector manufacturer. He has also controlled Fiber Bond of Michigan City, Indiana and is the founder of the Barbara and Barre Seid Foundation. [2]

Barre Seid is likely the “Anonymous Donor” that has supported many of the Heartland Institute's climate change denial activities. [3] According to leaked documents obtained by DeSmog, an anonymous donor contributed at least $13,342,267 to Heartland between 2007 and 2011. The idea of Barre Seid as the mystery donor is corroborated by October, 2012 and February, 2012 reports compiled by computer scientist John Mashey. According to Mashey, “The combination of IRS Form 990s, February documents, and other information proves his identity, as the numbers simply do not work otherwise.”

From Salon: [4]

The elderly and press-shy Seid is president of Tripp Lite, a large Chicago-based manufacturer of power strips that got into the personal computer market on the ground floor back in the 1980s. Seid has personally poured millions of dollars into Republican campaigns and conservative causes, and his foundation has given generously to the Cato Institute, the Americans for Limited Government Foundation, and the David Horowitz Freedom Center. This year, Seid received an honorary degree from Bar-Ilan University outside Tel Aviv for his work 'supporting those organizations which will fortify Israel’s position in the world.'”

Stance on Climate Change

While Barre Seid appears to have funded a number of climate science denial efforts including those of the Heartland Institute, he has not released an official statement on the issue.

Key Quotes

[Pending further investigation.]

Key Deeds

2012

Leaked documents revealed that an “Anonymous Donor” had contributed over $13,342,267 in donations between 2007 and 2011 to the Heartland Institute, an organization known for spreading climate science denial and misinformation.

Numerous sources have suggested that this anonymous donor is Barre Seid. This suggestion is corroborated by October, 2012 and February, 2012 reports by computer scientist John Mashey. According to Mashey, “The combination of IRS Form 990s, February documents, and other information proves his identity, as the numbers simply do not work otherwise.”

All of these donations were funneled through Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund, organizations designed to “safeguard the charitable intent of donors who are dedicated to the ideals of limited government, personal responsibility, and free enterprise.” [5]

According to the leaked Heartland 2012 Fundraising Plan, the “Anonymous Donor” made the following contributions from 2007-2011:

Project 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
General Operating $500,000 $500,000 $500,000 $700,000 $350,000
Ramp Up Program $800,000 $800,000 $400,000 $0 $0
Global Warming Projects $1,976,937 $3,300,000 $1,732,180 $964,150 $629,000
Health Care $0 $0 $190,000 $0 $0
School Reform $0 $0 $0 $0 $80,000
Total $3,276,937 $4,600,000 $2,822,180 $1,664,150 $979,000

Illinois auditor reports for 2003-2009 reveal that a single donor (possibly the same individual as the “Anonymous Donor”) contributed the following percentages of outstanding accounts receivable in those years (also see p. 56 of John Mashey's report):

2004 (PDF — See p. 27) — 74% contributed by two donors.

2005 (PDF — See p. 32) — 74% from one donor.

2006 (PDF — See p. 33) — 25% from one individual.

2007 (PDF — See p. 32) — 38% from one donor.

2008 (PDF — from 2009 — see p. 43) — 58% from one donor.

2009 (see previous, p. 43) — 35% from one donor.

The Anonymous Donor pledged an additional $1,250,000 for 2012, including contributions to the NIPCC Project (a climate skeptics' report organized by the Science and Environmental Policy Project with assistance from the Heartland Institute), Anthony Watts' “Weather Stations Project,” and David Wojick's “Global Warming Curriculum Project.”

Amount Project
$457,000 General Operating
$194,000 NIPCC Project
$44,000 Weather Stations Project
$100,000 Global Warming Curriculum Project
$105, 000 Cook County Debt Project
$100,000 Operation Angry Badger
$250,000 Additional gift (not determined)
$1,250,000 Total

The “Weather Stations Project” referred to a new web site by Anthony Watts which would convert temperature data from the National Aeronautics and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) “into easy-to-understand graphs that can be easily understood by weathermen and the general interested public” (p.18, Heartland's 2012 “Fundraising Plan”).

David Wojick's “Global Warming Curriculum Project” is a K-12 curriculum designed to counter what Wojick suggests is an “alarmist perspective” being taught in schools. The modules would discuss why “whether humans are changing the climate is a major scientific controversy” and would promote the idea that climate models' “reliability is controversial.”

2010

Numerous sources have credited Barre Seid as behind the attempted “ideological takeover” of Shimer College, a small Chicago-area “Great Books” college. Shimer received over $800,000 between 2007 and 2008 from Seid's foundation. In 2008, through a year-long process conducted by the Shimer College Presidential Search Committee, three candidates were chosen for the position of president. All three were rejected by an anonymous donor now understood to be Barre Seid. The fourth candidate, Thomas Lindsay, was brought forward by friend of Seid and longtime Board of Trustees Member Patrick Parker.

In 2009, Thomas Lindsay was appointed president and soon began implementing sweeping changes to Shimer's board which included the addition of trustees with significant conservative connections and many with ties to Barre Seid. [6]

These additions included Carson Halloway and Matthew Franck of the National Review, Michael McDonald who founded the conservative Center for Individual Rights, Anne Coulter, and Bob Chitester who headed Free to Choose Media. [7] Other notable members of the “takeover faction” included Heartland Institute President Joseph Best and Eric O'Keefe of the Sam Adams Alliance and (Seid-funded) U.S. Term Limits. [8], [9], [10], [11]

Under this new management, significant changes were proposed to the Shimer mission statement including replacing references of “active citizenship” and “informed, responsible action” for references to “ordered political liberty such as we enjoy in American democracy.” These changes, among others, alarmed Shimer community and staff members.

The opposition from community members eventually became an open struggle that received national press coverage including a Wall Street Journal article that shimer College staff and students described as “a misleading, tendentious screed about the current events at Shimer.” [12], [13]

The continued struggle led to open protest and a petition that called for Lindsay's resignation. On April 18 the Shimer Assembly, a body giving all students, faculty and administrative staff at the college equal voting privilege, passed a unanimous resolution of no confidence for Lindsay. After successfully convincing two swing members of Shimer's Board, they were able to vote to fire Lindsay and effectively stop the ideological takeover. [14]

2008

Shortly before the 2008 US presidential Election, an accounting error revealed that Barre Seid was likely behind the production and distribution of millions of DVDs about radical Islam. The film, titled “Obsession: Radical Islam's War With the West,” was distributed by the nonprofit Clarion Fund to help Republican candidates who were trying to portray Democrats as weak on the issue of terrorism. [4]

The 28 million DVD copies arguably fuelled anti-Muslim sentiment in the country, and according to Salon the film “was widely criticized for its cartoonish portrayal of Muslims as modern-day Nazis.” [4], [15]

While nonprofits must submit financial information including the identity of donors to the IRS, usually only the basic revenue and spending data are made available to the public. In this case, it appears an extra page detailing donor information was inadvertently included in the public filing which revealed a “Barry Seid” as donor.

According to Salon, while the spelling on the IRS form lists a “Barry Seid,” the only individual capable of a $17 million donor to the Clarion and who fit the profile was Barre Seid. The fact that Seid had used Donors Trust in the past to fund controversial causes only strengthened the case.

Seid's representative flatly denied to Salon that he has ever given money to Clarion:

Seid assistant Joan Frontczak told Salon in an e-mail: “Mr. Seid did not make any contributions to the Clarion Fund.” And she added: “Mr. Seid is a very private person and doesn't seek publicity of any kind.”

Furthermore, Clarion Fund spokesman Alex Traiman denied that the inadvertently released document is accurate.

“The sources of anonymous donations to the Clarion Fund in 2008 have been incorrectly identified,” Traiman said in an e-mail to Salon. “As like many other not-for-profit organizations, we respect the right of private donors to remain anonymous.”

Salon also noted that the Donors Capital Fund's 2008 IRS filing showed that DCF gave $17.7 million to Clarion at the same time that the DVDs were sent out. Donors Capital Fund acts as a “charitable vehicle” where donors can direct where they want their money to go. Whitney Ball, president of DCF, told Salon that “One of our clients made a recommendation for Clarion and so we did it.” She did not identify the client or comment on Seid.

Seid's private foundation, The Barbara and Barre Seid Foundation, has also made at least one donation to Donors Capital Fund in the past. [16]

Affiliations

Publications

Barre Seid does not appear to have released any notable publications on climate change or any other subject.

Resources

  1. “55th Annual Board of Trustees” (PDF) Bar-Ilan University, May, 2010.

  2. Tripp Lite Appoints New President” (translated from Spanish) CIO . September 22, 2011.

  3. The case for Barre Seid as the Heartland Institute's Anonymous Donor: Summation,” Daily KOS, March 6, 2012.

  4. Mystery of who funded right-wing 'radical Islam' campaign deepens,” Salon, November 16, 2010.

  5. What is Donors Capital Fund?”, Donors Capital Fund. Accessed November 4, 2012.

  6. Funder: Barbara and Barre Seid Foundation,” Conservative Transparency. Accessed November 3, 2012.

  7. The Conservative Menace,” Chicago Reader, December 10, 2009.

  8. Who's Buying Shimer?”, Chicago Reader, February 25, 2010.

  9. Shimer Trustees Honored,” Somewhat Reasonable (Heartland Institute Blog), February 3, 2011.

  10. Shimer's Board of Trustees,” Shimer Alumni Alliance, January 26, 2010.

  11. Barre Seid's Obsession,” Daily Kos, November 18, 2010.

  12. On the Barricades at Shimer,” The Wall Street Journal, March 10, 2010.

  13. Shimer College Fact Check: Wall Street Journal article,” Shimer College and the Future, March 12, 2010.

  14. Shimer College thwarts right-wing takeover attempt,” Daily Kos, April 21, 2010.

  15. Rachel Slajda. “How 30 Million DVDs Sent In 2008 Election Fuel The Anti-Mosque Debate Today,” TPM, August 25, 2010.

  16. Funder: Barbara and Barre Seid Foundation,” Conservative Transparency. Accessed October 28, 2012.

  17. Barre Seid,” Corporationwiki. Last updated November 14, 2011.

  18. Thomas Lindsay vs Shimer College,” YouTube video uploaded by user FWShimerFoundation, February 26, 2010.

  19. Barre Seid,” Wikipedia.

  20. Barre Seid,” SourceWatch.