The United States is a land of second chances, so when we saw that Frank Lasee is "now President of Truth in Energy and Climate," in his byline on a piece in TownHall about how ESG standards "will kill capitalism and democracy," we were intrigued.
Not by the content, which is just the latest Infowars Investing screed calling ESG — financial risk assessments incorporating environmental, social and governance factors, meant to prevent investments in child labor or sweatshops or polluting industries — is "soft fascism."
What stood out was in the byline — or rather, what wasn't in there. It was a long one, describing Lasee as a former member of Gov. Scott Walker's administration, and a Wisconsin state senator whose district "had two nuclear power plants, a biomass plant and numerous wind towers" and thus "he has experience dealing with energy, the environment, and the climate."
Only after all that did it then say he's now "President of Truth in Energy and Climate" as though this latest pop-up front group were the entire concept of truth. And THEN they provide a written-out but non-hyperlinked URL for the website Truthinenergyandclimate.com.
But what they didn't find any room to mention there was what Lasee was doing after his Wisconsin work, but before his current job. In 2020 he was the President of the Heartland Institute, one of the leading industry-funded conservative propaganda producers in the country. But it didn't last long, as Frank here has the noble distinction of being one of the most effective saboteurs of climate disinformation, in that he spent less than a year as the President of the Heartland Institute, and ran the organization straight into the ground.
But don't take our word for it.
"Heartland is broke," a staffer told a friend in 2020, when the organization laid off nearly a dozen staff. “Frank Lasee spent all of our money in six months including the savings. They had to lay off more than half the staff today and more coming. What an asshole.”
Ten days later, E&E reported Lasee was "forced out" of his recently-acquired position. According to Heartland's 2020 disclosures, unavailable at the time those stories ran, the organization had a revenue of roughly $3.78 million that year, down considerably from highs of $5.7 million in 2017 and 2018, and $4.56 million the year prior in 2019.
But while Lasee couldn't seem to manage to raise funds for Heartland, that he's now back with a new project suggests someone's paying for his skills.
What those are, though, is unclear.
It's certainly not website branding and design, as the URL "truthinenergyandclimate.com" isn't exactly succinct and the page isn't exactly appealing. It looks like basically every other "pink slime" fake news operation, except it's just all about energy and climate disinformation. There's a lot of content syndicated from Lasee and other professional disinformers, as well as things like an "electric grid basics" essay that feels like it was written by a middle schooler in detention and "model legislation" on the grid that's more "model UN" than it is a model of legitimate legislation.
And then there's his liberal use of bolding throughout essays, giving them a nostalgic mid-aughts chain email feel of promising big returns if you just forwarded this to five more friends.
Well apparently it worked, because someone's paying for Lasee's new "Truth in Energy and Climate" project, the only questions are: Who? And more importantly, given how quickly he proved disastrous for Heartland: Why?