When, in late 2017, then-Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt began planning a sort of mock trial on climate science, pitting credible researchers against industry-backed rogues, Heartland submitted a list of 145 names of contrarian scientists to consider.
A HuffPost investigation found that the list included a child sex offender: Oliver Manuel, a nuclear chemist whose crank theories about the sun alienated even the most ardent climate deniers, and who was convicted of attempted sodomy of an 11-year-old girl. In a response to the exposé, EPA distanced itself from Heartland. Five days after the story was published, Heartland, which is known to attempt to publicly discredit journalists and critics, disputed the nature of the list in a statement calling HuffPost “shameful and even disgusting.”
But Seibt, too, became a lightning rod for controversy. Her mother, Karoline Seibt, is an attorney who works with Alternative für Deutschland, Germany’s far-right nationalist party with ties to neo-Nazis. In 2018, the mother was pictured partying with Milo Yiannopoulos, the far-right former star columnist at Breitbart who, according to BuzzFeed News, pushed white nationalist ideology into mainstream U.S. politics.