An Illinois-based conservative think tank headed by a former Wisconsin state senator is in financial trouble, possibly due to overspending at the top.
The Huffington Post is reporting The Heartland Institute, an organization known for pushing back on concerns about climate change and global warming, has played off at least ten staff members due to the organization’s finances. In a text message obtained by Huffington, Heartland’s events coordinator Nikki Comerford told a former colleague, “Heartland is broke.”
Fingers are being pointed at the organization’s president, former Wisconsin state Senator Frank Lasée. According to the Huffington Post:
Comerford blamed Frank Lasée, the former Wisconsin Republican state lawmaker who took over as Heartland’s president last July, for squandering the organization’s budget during his nascent tenure and leaving the group in dire financial straits. Another former employee accused Lasée of mismanaging the budget, and private Facebook posts from other current staffers expressed dismay over the state of the organization, but HuffPost could not independently verify the state of Heartland’s finances because the nonprofit’s tax filings for 2019 are not yet due.
“Frank Lasee spent all of our money in six months including the savings,” she wrote in a text. “They had to lay off more than half the staff today and more coming. What an asshole.”
Lasée did not respond to an email requesting comment on Friday night, but HuffPost confirmed the details with two former employees who left Heartland between 2016 and 2017 but maintained ties to the organization.
RightWisconsin has confirmed from a source that the organization is experiencing financial difficulties. Lasée’s status was not confirmed at press time, but RightWisconsin sources indicate his position is in danger, too.
Lasée’s career as a legislator came to an end when he was appointed by former Governor Scott Walker to be the administrator for the Department of Workforce Development’s Workers Compensation Division at the end of 2017. Walker’s intention was to fill the vacancy in the 1st Senate District in the November 2018 election, but a lawsuit forced Walker to call the special election early. The seat was briefly held by a Democrat, Caleb Frostman, the current Wisconsin Secretary of Workforce Development, before being recaptured by Sen. André Jacque (R-De Pere).
As early as 2012, questions were raised about Lasée’s residency in the 1st Senate District and whether he lived with his family in Racine, WI.