Leaked memo claims that GM, Ford financed pro-CO2 ad campaign

A leaked coal industry memo claims that General Motors and Ford are behind a controversial climate change-denial adBusted campaign currently being run by the the libertarian lobby group the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

(Both Ford and GM now deny this claim – see the comment string that follows.)

The DeSmogBlog team has received a copy of a leaked July 17, 2006 memo written by Stanley Lewandowski, General Manager of the Intermountain Rural Electric Association (IREA). The memo states: 

“The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) has been running two ads in ten states that were financed by General Motors and Ford Motor Company.”

The memo goes on to outline a plan for a well-funded and well-organized PR campaign sponsored by some of the US's largest energy interests, such as Koch Industries and the Southern Company. The campaigners aim to undermine the scientific consensus on climate change in an attempt stifle an initiative by Democratic Congressmen to tax and cap carbon emissions.

The CEI, which has accepted millions in funding from fossil fuel interests, recently launched two commercials arguing that the build-up of the greenhouse gas C02 is good for us. (“They call it pollution; we call it life.”)

The commercials, which currently air in 14 US states, fly in the face of the scientific consensus that human CO2 production is causing global warming.

This memo (attached) flies in the face of the usual CEI claim that it is an impartial think tank and not a de facto PR agency in the direct employ of those who benefit from irresponsible overuse of fossil fuels.

PDF icon IREA-memo.pdf371.64 KB


Ford Motor company has sent the DeSmogBlog the following statement that denies their involvement in the CEI ads – the following is the related e-mail string:

From: Hoyt, Tom (T.A.) ]
Sent: Thursday, July 27, 2006 3:08 PM
To: Kevin Grandia Subject:
RE: Competitive Enterprise Institute

As our statement says, we do not support the ads.


Tom Hoyt
Global News Manager
Ford Motor Company
(313) 322-1524

From: Kevin Grandia
Sent: Thursday, July 27, 2006 5:42 PM
To: Hoyt, Tom (T.A.)
Subject: RE: Competitive Enterprise Institute

Thanks for the reply, just to confirm then that the memo we have received and the statement regarding Ford and the CEI ads is a falsehood.

- Kevin

From: Hoyt, Tom (T.A.)
Sent: Thursday, July 27, 2006 2:41 PM
To: Kevin Grandia Subject: Competitive Enterprise Institute

I’m following up on an e-mail communication that you sent to Ford Motor Company. Following is a statement that we issued on May 17.

WASHINGTON, DC, May 17 – Ford Motor Company’s position on climate change is clear and it has been for many years. As our Chairman and CEO, Bill Ford, stated in our annual Sustainability report, “At Ford, we have long acknowledged the importance of global climate change. We recognize its potential impact on economic as well as environmental and social systems.”

Ford has supported many Competitive Enterprise Institute initiatives over the years. But we do not support the national ad campaign on global warming CEI announced today.


Tom Hoyt
Global News Manager
Ford Motor Company

Ask again:  did Ford support the two-state CEI ad campaign of a few weeks ago?  Not do they ‘support’ it now that it’s hit the news, but did Ford support CEI in their ad campaign a few weeks ago in several states – the test marketing.

And ask how the spokesman/PR person knows – do they keep someone uninformed to reply to questions like this?  That’s not unusual.  Ask if the person actually checked whether Ford contributed as reported toward that marketing test campaing.

 And checking, did CEI in fact announce a national ad campaign on 7/27, which is literally what Ford is saying they don’t support?

Here is an e-mail sent to DeSmogBlog today from the Competitive Enterprise Institute:


Thanks for taking a minute to talk to me.

Here’s CEI’s statement on the IREA memo: IREA was not correct when it stated in its letter that Ford and GM funded our ad campaign.

At our news conference May 17, we made it clear to the audience that we produced and were airing the ads without any involvement from our donors. That was the case then and remains so today. The ads have not run since the end of June; however, they are still posted on our website and at Youtube.com. When we launched the campaign, some news stories erroneously inferred a corporate connection to our ads, which we believe may have led to the error in the IREA letter. If anyone has any further questions, please feel free to call or email me (contact info below).


Jody Clarke
Vice President for Communications
Competitive Enterprise Institute
1001 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Suite 1250 Washington, DC 20036
Direct: 202.331.2252
Cell: 703.863.9021
Fax: 202.331.0640
Email: [email protected]
Blog: www.ceiopenmarket.org

“We produced and were airing the ads without any involvement from our donors.”

So where did the funds to produce the ads come from, if not from “donors”?  Or does CEI operate a printing press at the US Treasury?

Here is an e-mail recieved by the DeSmogBlog this morning from General Motors:

GM has not been a party to Competitive Enterprise Institute’s development of their current ad campaign on the global climate issue nor part of their decision process to implement the ads. GM has supported CEI as a public policy organization dedicated to advancing the principles of free enterprise, including free market approaches to environmental and technology policy and risk regulation.

Sherrie Childers Arb
GM Communications
313-665-1373, office
248-318-8029, cell

I am looking for the two ads of CEI (The Competitive Institute). I need the video-documents for educational work (it’s not possible to be online, when I will use it).Are there any possibilities to get those ads (web-sites, via email, video-stream-ripping, etc.). I am using a macintosh.Looking forward for your answers!