Hansen gets FOIA'd on ethics issues with NASA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, January 19, 2011

Contact:

Christopher Horner, chris.horner@atinstitute.org

ATI Environmental Law Center Seeks NASA Records on Dr. James Hansen

Today the American Tradition Institute’s Environmental Law Center filed a federal Freedom of Information Act request with NASA, seeking records detailing whether and how ‘global warming’ activist Dr. James Hansen of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) has complied with applicable federal ethics and financial disclosure laws and regulations, and NASA Rules of Behavior.

This request seeks records of longtime, taxpayer-funded activist Hansen, in the knowledge that FOIA-released records and other documents show his GISS colleague, Dr. Gavin Schmidt, has edited the activist blog RealClimate on regular business hours when he is nominally working for the taxpayer. In fact, FOIA-released records indicate this third-party activism was considered part of Schmidt’s job, seeking to rehabilitate the discredited ‘hockey stick’ and otherwise promoting GISS’s activist line.

The request for Hansen’s ethics-compliance records comes on the heels of his latest adventures in public advocacy, writing in the Chinese newspaper South China Morning Post to blame the United States for modern climate change and his ritually exaggerated claims of future catastrophe, as well as some by now typically nasty sneering at American democracy in a follow-up article published on his website (now taken down but surely produced, as FOIA records have already revealed that so much of his privately posted work has been produced, on taxpayer time).

This is the latest in a long line of often radical behavior by Hansen that, were it engaged in by a government employee on the other side of the ‘global warming’ issue, would have resulted in discipline and possibly termination years ago. Dr. Hansen may state that he is speaking as a private citizen — in fora ranging from his testimony supporting lawbreaking in the name of global warming, to extreme public advocacy only tolerated, if even celebrated, because of his position with NASA — but the obvious truth is that he is trading on his platform as a NASA scientist to gain the wide audience he has (Hansen is an astronomer).

“It seems that Hansen’s access to and use of the media has so cowed his NASA superiors that his office has been allowed to operate unencumbered by applicable ethics requirements which other NASA employees, not so darling to the media, must comply with,” said Christopher Horner, ATI’s senior director of litigation. “In fact, in public court pleadings filed in Competitive Enterprise Institute v. NASA, NASA recently revealed that Hansen’s office operated for years in violation of these obligations.”

ATI’s requests build on that record, seeking specific records since 2004 relating to:

 

  • Required Approvals and Waivers for Outside Employment
  • Required Financial Disclosure/Conflict of Interest Disclosure
  • Internal discussion of possible or actual disciplinary actions

ATI looks forward to NASA’s compliance with this request, in stark contrast to how it has recently treated other requests for GISS records, with expectation that NASA will provide the responsive records in the statutorily permitted period of time.

See ATI’s Freedom of Information Act request to NASA seeking James Hansen’s records relating to compliance with ethics and financial disclosure laws. ( http://www.atinstitute.org/uploads/File/ATI_NASA_Hansen_Ethics_FOIA.pdf )

For an interview with Christopher Horner, senior director of litigation for the American Tradition Institute Environmental Law Center, contact him at chris.horner@atinstitute.org.

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Martin Mason

This is absolutely incredible and long overdue.

Rick K

Yes! It’s about damn time!

Dave Dodd

May justice finally be served! [snip]
Godspeed Christopher Horner!

John from CA

Finally, someone woke up to the situation. With due respect, if Hansen wishes to be an activist, he should do it on his own dime.

Ali Baba

What a bunch of losers. Lysenko had nothing on you guys.

Laurie Bowen

There will be charges for this request . . . when the bill comes in let us know, please.

The FBI ultimately got Al Capone for tax evasion. Whatever it takes.

Luther Wu

In light of the failure of previous legal attempts to spotlight the dishonest word and deed of those ‘official scientific’ voices calling for tyranny (of the noble cause,) one could predict that this attempt will also meet with delays, obfuscation, lies, whitewash and cover- up.

RockyRoad

Hansen should be made to cough up all the money paid to him by the government while he was doing advocacy work contrary to his job description.

Joe Lalonde

Finding a patsy for what they were ALL doing!
Having no choice when the temperatures are dropping like a rock and precipitation is in full bore.

Thomas

Can we also get full disclosure of who are behind and finances the American Tradition Institute?

David L

Can’t the Senate pass some laws, retroactively, to make Hansen immune to these and turther FOIA requests? Seems only right, doesn’t it?

afraid4me

Wonder if he learned how to delete emails from the folks at Penn State and East Anglia…..

Hoser

Hansen should have been fired already, given the earlier post with the Washington Times article (http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/01/18/hansen-would-rather-have-us-ruled-by-china/#more-31908):
“The nation’s most prominent publicly funded climatologist is officially angry about this, blaming democracy and citing the Chinese government as the “best hope” to save the world from global warming. He also wants an economic boycott of the U.S. sufficient to bend us to China’s will.”
Let him go work for the Chinese space program. Where does his salary come from if not the US economy? He has violated his oath of office as a federal civil servant (see http://www.opm.gov/constitution_initiative/oath.asp).

joe

this is just silly. now we want government agencies to gag employees and control them?

Eric

@ Ali Baba
Interesting choice of words….
“What a bunch of losers. Lysenko had nothing on you guys.”
I think you have that backwards, AGW is the perfect form of Lysenkoism…
Lysenkoism is used colloquially to describe the manipulation or distortion of the scientific process as a way to reach a predetermined conclusion as dictated by an ideological bias, often related to social or political objectives

Luther Wu

Thomas says:
January 19, 2011 at 9:43 am
Can we also get full disclosure of who are behind and finances of the American Tradition Institute?
…and so, it begins.

This will probably go nowhere. It is disgusting how Schmidt and Hansen slack on their “jobs,” stealing tax payer money while they work on their hobby, but it is clear that they’ll be protected for toeing the party line.
If they had any sense of ethics this wouldn’t be a problem, but greenies have long believed that the ends justify the means. Of course, their “ends” are also atrocities.

Elftone

Thomas says:
January 19, 2011 at 9:43 am
Can we also get full disclosure of who are behind and finances the American Tradition Institute?

Hi Thomas – yes: this page should tell you all you need to know:
http://atinstitute.org/about/

Steve in SC

The club that was previously lacking is now in hand.
Congress can and should cut off all funding for NASA GISS without further delay.
Call it a reverse earmark if you will.

James Sexton

Thomas says:
January 19, 2011 at 9:43 am
Can we also get full disclosure of who are behind and finances the American Tradition Institute?
========================================================
Why? What difference does it make? Either Hansen failed to meet his obligations or he didn’t.

Laurie Bowen

While your at it you can check on some of the contributors to the American Tradition Institute linked and researched . . . . thanks to google.
Minnesotans For Global WarmingI can see this event being turned into a reason where blogs like M4GW can’t talk about “Global Warming” anymore because it’s too inflammatory. …
http://www.m4gw.com/ – Cached
Videos
Merchandise (5)
Global Cooling Deniers (27)
Cartoons (7) Climategate (89)
Cap And Trade (92)
Current Events (20)
More results from m4gw.com »
I must get a better life. . . .

Thomas

Glen and Elftone, I had already read that page and it says very little. Just names of two people working for the organization and some pretty words. Nothing about who finances it. To me it seems like another astroturf organization. By all means, those have a right to make FOI requests too, but as I said, then we should have a right to look just as closely on them as well.

KD

Thomas says:
January 19, 2011 at 9:43 am
Can we also get full disclosure of who are behind and finances the American Tradition Institute?
_________________
Right on cue Thomas. This is a classic Alinsky tactic – avoid the issue and the facts by accusing anyone who questions the dogma.
In fact, as ATI is a PRIVATE institution, that does not operate on TAXPAYER dollars, then your rights to know about them are limited.
Unlike Dr. Hansen who operates on TAXPAYER dollars and therefore has waived many of his rights to disclosure.
Nice try, but attacking ATI is pure deflection.

KD

joe says:
January 19, 2011 at 9:54 am
this is just silly. now we want government agencies to gag employees and control them?
_________________
Um, don’t know about you joe, but yes, I want ACCOUNTABILITY from those who are funded by my tax dollars.
Please quote where in the Constitution it says there can be no conditions placed on an employee?
In my Company we are required, as a condition of employment, to acknowledge and live by standards of integrity and ethics. Violating these, many of which are not illegal, is the quickest way to be shown the door.
How is it you believe that a Federal employee should be exempt from such standards?

KD

Thomas says:
January 19, 2011 at 10:43 am
Glen and Elftone, I had already read that page and it says very little. Just names of two people working for the organization and some pretty words. Nothing about who finances it. To me it seems like another astroturf organization. By all means, those have a right to make FOI requests too, but as I said, then we should have a right to look just as closely on them as well.
___________________________
Simple question, Why?
FOIA is, by design and principle, a tool to keep our Government in check. No where does it say we have a right to know who is making a request.
That is the beauty of our Republic. The Government works for us not vice versa.
Again, nice try. Alinsky would be proud. But just because you WANT to know does not mean you have a RIGHT to know.

Henry chance

Is he in China interviewing for an Ambassador to the US job? He can always work for Joe Romm and George Soros. They hire rhetoric intensive libs.
This came up in a lawsuit 1 year afgo when Horner sued for conflict of interest.

ShrNfr

David L. The constitution says: “No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.” section 9 article 1

Mike

I think blocking coal trucks is rather silly, but I don’t want the government firing people for their political activities. As for Hansen’s writing, it is his job to communicate with the general public. As a tax payer, I want to know what he is thinking about science and policy. Should he be prohibited from testifying before Congress?
As for the American Tradition Institute it claims status as “a 501(c)3 not-for-profit charitable public policy research and educational foundation.” But if they are really just a PR firm lobbying for corporate interests, then I would challenge their tax exempt status.

John from CA

Elftone says:
January 19, 2011 at 10:22 am
Hi Thomas – yes: this page should tell you all you need to know: http://atinstitute.org/about/
========
Christopher C. Horner is the senior director of litigation for the American Tradition Institute Environmental Law Center. He has authored three best-selling books on “global warming” and environmental policy, law and politics: 
“The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming and Environmentalism” (Regnery, 2007), which spent half of 2007 on the New York Times bestseller list;
“Red Hot Lies: How Global Warming Alarmists Use Threats, Fraud and Deception to Keep You Misinformed” (Regnery, 2008) ;
“Power Grab: How Obama’s ‘Green’ Policies Steal Will Your Freedom and Bankrupt America” (April 2010).
Horner is a senior fellow with the Washington DC think tank the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and is affiliated with European counterpart organizations. An attorney in Washington, DC, Horner has represented think tanks, scientists and Members of the U.S. House and Senate on matters of environmental policy in the federal courts.

DirkH

Henry chance says:
January 19, 2011 at 11:07 am
“Is he in China interviewing for an Ambassador to the US job? He can always work for Joe Romm and George Soros. ”
That would diminish his value for Soros, as propaganda is far more effective when it comes from a supposedly trustworthy source like NASA.

Dave Dodd

Moderators:
re: My first post – I should have said “Illuminate the Periplaneta americanas”
Sorry. I was overcome with zealousness! 🙂

Elftone

Thomas says:
January 19, 2011 at 10:43 am
Glen and Elftone, I had already read that page and it says very little. Just names of two people working for the organization and some pretty words. Nothing about who finances it. To me it seems like another astroturf organization. By all means, those have a right to make FOI requests too, but as I said, then we should have a right to look just as closely on them as well.

Hi Thomas – yes, two names and some pretty words (the usual marketing-speak), but it also says this:
American Tradition Institute is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit charitable public policy research and educational foundation.
The relevant part of that is the 501(c)3 reference:
http://www.irs.gov/charities/charitable/article/0,,id=96099,00.html
which states:
To be tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, an organization must be organized and operated exclusively for exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3), and none of its earnings may inure to any private shareholder or individual. In addition, it may not be an action organization, i.e., it may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates.
Organizations described in section 501(c)(3) are commonly referred to as charitable organizations. Organizations described in section 501(c)(3), other than testing for public safety organizations, are eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions in accordance with Code section 170.
The organization must not be organized or operated for the benefit of private interests, and no part of a section 501(c)(3) organization’s net earnings may inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual. If the organization engages in an excess benefit transaction with a person having substantial influence over the organization, an excise tax may be imposed on the person and any organization managers agreeing to the transaction.
Section 501(c)(3) organizations are restricted in how much political and legislative (lobbying) activities they may conduct. For a detailed discussion, see Political and Lobbying Activities. For more information about lobbying activities by charities, see the article Lobbying Issues; for more information about political activities of charities, see the FY-2002 CPE topic Election Year Issues.

In addition, ‘inure’ in this context is defined by the IRS (at http://www.irs.gov/charities/charitable/article/0,,id=123297,00.html as:
Inurement/Private Benefit – Charitable Organizations
A section 501(c)(3) organization must not be organized or operated for the benefit of private interests, such as the creator or the creator’s family, shareholders of the organization, other designated individuals, or persons controlled directly or indirectly by such private interests. No part of the net earnings of a section 501(c)(3) organization may inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual. A private shareholder or individual is a person having a personal and private interest in the activities of the organization.

Although these definitions are relevant only to the IRS, they do place some pretty heavy restrictions on the funding with regard to the activities of the charity (lobbying is specifically called out above, for example). But it also means that any entity is free to make a charitable donation, according to their own intentions, whilst not being able to direct usage of said donation.
The Institute will also, no doubt, be well aware of this:
In addition, it may not be an action organization, i.e., it may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates.
And, as one of the named individuals is a lawyer, it’s a pretty fair bet they won’t cross these boundaries.
In the end, you’re SOL on this tack. Might be best to stop the arm waving, stop questioning motive, sit back and see where the FOIA chips fall.

Scott B

What ethics rules are applicable to a position like Hansen’s? Is he considered an executive branch employee? Does he have a GS level? Is he senior executive service? I wonder if things work differently where academics meets government, as is seems to with GISS, than it does for the rest of the federal government.
I’d think Hansen has substantial investments in various green companies and technology, and that his position in GISS would create the appearance of a conflict of interest between his position at GISS and his investments.
Maybe that is the point, or part of the point, of this FOI request, but its not clear from the article. To me, how he spends his time between work and activism is less important than how he financial benefits from his position, or the decisions he makes while in his position.

Cal Barndorfer

This will prove what, exactly. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has done non-job related work during “traditional” working hours.
Radical!

Dave

joe says:
January 19, 2011 at 9:54 am
this is just silly. now we want government agencies to gag employees and control them?
Does the name Stanley McChrystal ring a bell? Were you ok with it when he was gagged, I mean fired and his career terminated, for speaking his mind? His punishment resulted from speaking out about incoherent policy, not advocating a different form of government.

Thomas

KD, ATI may be private but as a tax-exempt entity it is required to make some records public:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/501%28c%29
If ATI wants to be secretive they shouldn’t request tax breaks and the right for donors to deduct contributions from their taxes. As a non-American I suspect I don’t have a right to request that information, but Americans do have that right. That is the beauty of your republic.

Cassandra King

I would suppose that the MSM allies of Hansen&Co are readying the counter attack line already.
Poor hard working honest scientists being attacked by those with a right wing political motive etc? Spread around by a client media and blogosphere with the volume turned up to maximum to deflect attention from the real issues. Attack the motives of the accuser, smear the whistleblower and claim victimhood, its worked before on many occasions and the people who are going to use these tricks are experts at the game.
Its buzzword bingo time, McCarthyism will go like hotcakes, right wing and big oil will do well of course. Palin will do well with claims of ecocide and denier/denialism being popular and well worn. I can envisage the SEJ/NUJ/NASA GISS/Woods hole institute of whatever the hell they are/AP & Reuters/realclimate/Huffpo email systems running red hot with suggestions and attack profiles.
Its all so predictable by now so enjoy!

Mike @ January 19, 2011 at 11:32 am
Mike,
If you wish to challenge ATI’s status as a 501(c)3, by all means go for it; but, don’t go unprepared. While you’re at it, perhaps you could also challenge the status of the Center for American Progress as well.
Let us all know how that works out for you.

Noelle

“Dr. Gavin Schmidt, has edited the activist blog RealClimate …”
Can someone here please reproduce a post from RealClimate which they assert is “actvist?”

ThomasJ

FYI: ‘Thomas’ above is [most probably] the Swedish person Thomas Palm who is a most frantic CAGW-ist and especially (one of more) in regard of ‘defending’ mr. Hansen (+the ‘team’), regardless of what. One speciality of TP is to continously change subject in any debate in which he takes part and that as soon as anyone asks about the slightest of relevant fact of either topic.
One can follow his ‘doings’ on: http://www.theclimatescam.se (Swedish).
The travesty w this person is, that he’s suppousedly well and highly educated (KTH)
but, as so very many other of alike educated (ie. the ‘Lysenkoistics’, the ‘Race-biologists’ which, btw, was initiated by a certain mr. Arrhenius.. and more..) he has yet to learn how to sight the woods, even if there might be some trees in the way…
Anyway, the positive thing about TP’s + ilk’s (ie. the UI, Vof) ‘activities’ here in Sweden is that there is a definite (finally!) opening of minds/enlightement/ about CAGW even among some of the MSM.
(Excuse me IF namned person is the wrong one!)
Brgds from the Bestcoast of Scandinavia!
//TJ

Henry chance

Much to the consternation of the West Virginia delegation in Congress, the coal industry, and the working people of the Mountain State, the agency took the unprecedented step of revoking a mining permit that it had issued four years ago to Arch Coal’s Spruce No. 1 Mine in Logan County, West Virginia.
http://www.patriotactionnetwork.com/forum/topics/obama-coal-crackdown-sends?commentId=2600775%3AComment%3A3101244&xg_source=activity
Retro activley killing a permit. Hansen won.
When a company has 250 million invested and the EPA chokes them, we have tyranny.

Harry Bergeron

Scott B: I remind you that FOIA requests don’t need a “point”.
To think that they need a “point” is to think like a politician or pundit.
FOIA is about the simple facts of the matter, which is what scientists use.

Laurie Bowen January 19, 2011 at 10:39 am says:
While your at it you can [sic] …

ALL the ‘publik skool’ grads are out today …
Take note: “you are” is contracted thusly: ” you’re
.

Noelle says:
“Can someone here please reproduce a post from RealClimate which they assert is ‘actvist?’ ”
I no longer visit there since 100% of my comments have been deleted, so I’m not one to relay that info. But it doesn’t take a posting to be an activist. Censoring any opinion that contradicts realclimate’s belief in catastrophic runaway global warming due to CO2 emissions is plenty “activist” for a blog paid for with taxpayer funds.

Mark T

Cal Barndorfer says:
January 19, 2011 at 12:05 pm

This will prove what, exactly. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has done non-job related work during “traditional” working hours.

Of course, had your employer discovered your non-job related work during normal working hours and determined that it was excessive, he might have warned you to stop non-job related activities (unless he didn’t appreciate your performance any more, in which case he might have fired you then and there according to the terms of the agreement you probably signed when you were first hired.) If, then, you decided to ignore your employer’s advice and he discovered you hard at non-work again, he might have fired you citing the agreement you probably signed when you were first hired as well as the previous warning.
We, the US citizens, as Gavin’s and Hansen’s employers, have discovered they may potentially be engaging in excessive non-job related activities during working hours. The procedure from here can be expected to proceed in a similar fashion except that many of us, as their employers, no longer appreciate their respective performances.
Mark

Thomas

Perhaps ThomasJ, whoever he is, could take his libel somewhere else. He doesn’t seem entirely balanced with his cries about race biology and lysenkoism.

Laurie Bowen

_Jim says:
January 19, 2011 at 12:28 pm
Laurie Bowen January 19, 2011 at 10:39 am says:
While your at it you can [sic]… . . . .
Gee, Jim . . . it’s just a comments page.
Just for you, I will try to be more careful. . . . Sorry

Too bad their request goes back only to the year 2004. They should look at his full record since 1978 when he first joined NASA GISS. He was then an astronomer attached to the Pioneer Venus probe but he quit before the spacecraft reached its destination and joined GISS because “The composition of the atmosphere of our home planet was changing before our eyes…” I was alive then and my eyes did not notice any such change in the atmosphere that he speaks of. His first job there was to devise a basic GISS temperature analysis scheme for estimating global temperature change. And lo and behold, when his scheme was implemented it began to show global warming that other schemes had missed. In three years after joining GISS he was the boss which makes one think that this and not the atmosphere was his reason for leaving the Pioneer project.