NASA's Hansen asked to account for outside activities

Gavin Schmidt’s time spent on editing realclimate.org during working hours apparently was the trigger for a broader investigation.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Contacts: Christopher Horner, chris.horner@atinstitute.org  Paul Chesser, paul.chesser@atinstitute.org

ATI Law Center Asks Court to Force NASA to Produce Ethics-Related, Outside Employment Records of Dr. James Hansen

The American Tradition Institute’s Environmental Law Center today filed a lawsuit in federal district court in the District of Columbia to force the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to release ethics records for taxpayer-funded global warming activist Dr. James Hansen, specifically records that pertain to his outside employment, revenue generation, and advocacy activities.

ATI seeks to learn whether NASA approved Hansen’s outside employment, which public financial disclosures and other documents reveal to have brought him at least $1.2 million in the past four years. This money comes on top of and, more troubling from an ethics and legal perspective, is all “related to” and sometimes even expressly for his taxpayer-funded employment, all of which outside employment commenced when Hansen stepped up his “global warming” activism from his perch at NASA.

On January 19, ATI filed a Freedom of Information Act request (PDF) with NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), which sought records detailing NASA’s and Hansen’s compliance with applicable federal ethics and financial disclosure laws and regulations and with NASA Rules of Behavior. Thus far the agency has denied ATI’s request for Hansen’s Form 17-60 “Application for permission for outside employment and other activity”, and internal discussions about same.

Arguing that release would constitute a “clearly unwarranted violation of Hansen’s privacy rights” NASA claims that ATI’s pages of explanation failed to establish that the one-page applications — if they exist, which ATI has reason to doubt — would“contribute to the public’s understanding of the activities of the Government, or how it would shed light on NASA’s performance of its statutory duties.”

This despite that whether NASA complies with ethics laws is patently of public interest, and that Hansen’s position requires him to file vastly more detailed Public Financial Disclosure filings, or Form SF 278, which are made available to the public on request. Both are for the simple reason that a senior employee’s outside revenue-generating activities are inherently in the public’s interest according to the Ethics in Government Act of 1978.

Dr. Hansen engages in high-profile public advocacy with regard to global warming and energy policy, directly trading on his platform as a NASA astronomer to gain interest and attention. This outside employment and other activities relating to his work have included consulting, highly compensated speeches, six-figure “prizes”, a commercial book, advising Al Gore on his movie “An Inconvenient Truth” and, lately, advising litigants on suing states and the federal government.

Since escalating the “provocative” (in Hansen’s word) nature of his advocacy in a 2006 “60 Minutes interview”, these outside activities have become extraordinarily lucrative — yielding on average more than a quarter of a million dollars per year in extra income between 2007 and 2010 from outside sources, all relating to the work he is paid by the taxpayer to perform for NASA.

ATI’s director of litigation Christopher Horner says, “Under federal statutes and NASA rules, employees may not privately benefit from public office; outside income must be disclosed, certain activities avoided, andpermission must be applied for before engaging in permissible outside employment or activities. ATI’s Request seeks official documents which — if they in fact exist — would inform the public about NASA’s and Hansen’s adherence to all such rules which compliance, given records already obtained and the public record, is in doubt.”

Dr. Hansen has admitted that lucrative offers of “prizes” and “awards” for his public service began flowing after that “60 Minutes” interview, in which he accused the Bush Administration of “censoring” his global warming views. Records show a sudden spike in highly compensated speeches on the subject of his work, as well.

NASA has already provided Form 17-60 documents for Dr. Hansen’s subordinate Gavin Schmidt to the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). Schmidt writes for and edits the climate alarmism blog RealClimate.org, during normal business hours. That Hansen and NASA had not required Schmidt to file Form 17-60 seeking permission for these activities, until NASA was asked about this matter, triggered ATI’s inquiry into whether Hansen, too, was avoiding this requirement. Other records obtained by CEI and posted on ATI’s Web site indicate that Dr. Hansen has also used NASA staff for his own commercial activities.

The President and the Attorney General have made clear their commitment to transparency and a high standard of ethical behavior by government employees. NASA needs to clear the air by releasing the documents about Dr. Hansen and about whether he had permission to wear his government hat when engaging in a lucrative effort to sway government policy, said Dr. David Schnare, Director of the ATI Environmental Law Center.

See ATI Environmental Law Center’s Complaint and Prayer for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief in federal court in its Freedom of Information Act case against NASA (PDF).

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BigFire

This is more serious than a bunch of Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries member editing Gundam Wiki page 260 times (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ministry_of_Agriculture,_Forestry_and_Fisheries_%28Japan%29#Gundam_Controversy) . This has billions of dollars in question.

Jeff Carlson

come on … it takes time to forge and back date all of those documents …

Henry chance

I asked this question 2 years ago. They have too much time on their hands and don’t stay on task.
Schmidt was blogging all day and didn’t have time to answer FOIA requests he claimed.

John W. Garrett

These individuals long ago abandoned science careers to pursue careers in sales. It’s high time they were dismissed from the government payroll.

Gaylon

Gee, I don’t get it, Hansen? Really? And Gavin!? NO, say it idn’t so!!!!!! Those bastions of the scientific method!? Those stalwfart protectors of the planet!!??
(sarc/off)
PS: GO GET’M GUYS!

Gaylon

Oooops Freudian slip there, should be ‘stalwart’, has a nice ring to it though. I’ll leave it to the mods, if you guys want to correct please do. Or maybe, ‘stallfart’ is better? ;0)

Mark Nutley

Will this lead to him being fired? We can only hope so 🙂

Just one comment…
🙂

Thomas Trevor

Lets hope the judge is logical.

P.F.

This could be huge.
I guess Hansen saw how Gore was working the movement to enhance his riches and fame, and Hansen wanted to do likewise.

Olavi

I’ts about the time to put him retired. He is 70 and senile.

NASA needs to clear the air by releasing the documents about Dr. Hansen and about whether he had permission to wear his government hat when engaging in a lucrative effort to sway government policy,

I heard Hansen speak at American Mensa’s Annual Colloquium a couple years ago (he left early to catch a plane to get out of Atlanta before a snowstorm. He had to get to DC for that Capitol power plant protest). He made it quite clear that he was speaking on his own and not for NASA. It was also quite clear he wouldn’t have been invited were he not with GISS.
My employers, all in the private space, take a very dim view of employees moonlighting for companies that are or could be customers, in large part for the confusion that people may have over exactly who we represent.

“when engaging in a lucrative effort to sway government policy”
That about says it all.

Dave Springer

About time.

henrythethird

It might be worse than we thought…
Haven’t read through the entire PDF, but, being a Gov’t employee, not only will tany “request for off-duty job” be required, but if he’s going to that job, or staying in a hotel while at that “extra” job, he shouldn’t be using the Govt travel office, Govt transportation, or getting Govt room rates.
And along with that, there should be “leave requests” for any time he’s away from his “day job”. He can’t draw pay as both a NASA scientist and a climate activist, too.
If he’s being allowed to use Govt services while on this “non-govt” job, then there’s even more of a conflict. He can’t call himself an “activist”, and expect the Govt to back his action, IMHO. Check those “Rules of Behavior” more closely.
Also, a couple of times that Hansen was protesting, he was arrersted for tresspassing (and one time while protesting the President’s policies). See how THAT is handled by the “rules of behavior”, too.

Richard G

It’s about time.

CRS, Dr.P.H.

I post on RealClimate and direct my questions directly to Gavin, in the hopes that he cannot resist answering while he’s at work. Maybe that strategy will bear fruit! Haw haw haw!

Jeff Mitchell

“The President and the Attorney General have made clear their commitment to transparency and a high standard of ethical behavior by government employees.” That is total BS. It is just polite posturing. The commitment to transparency and high standard ethics is very absent in this administration. The New Black Panther case and the current Gunwalker scandal are two examples where the administration has attempted to stymie the news and block information that is relevant to the public.

Scott B

I will be shocked if Hansen doesn’t have investments in various renewable energy companies, which to me creates a clear conflict-of-interest with his job as climate alarmist-at-large. Coal death trains…indeed.

Anton

This article needs editing. I found some of the paragraphs very hard to follow, and had to imagine where words could be rearranged or punctuation inserted to make some sentences comprehensible.
For instance, this sentence:
“This money comes on top of and, more troubling from an ethics and legal perspective, is all “related to” and sometimes even expressly for his taxpayer-funded employment, all of which outside employment commenced when Hansen stepped up his “global warming” activism from his perch at NASA.”
I don’t mean to be a language Nazi, but what???

pat

This will anger The Weather Clown. Watch out.

I am reminded that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Beyond that observation, however, it must, for scientists, be all about the science — that is, it is Hansen’s scientific incompetence that is at fault, not his willingness to embrace all that fame, awards and speaking fees. He simply is not worthy of his position of “climate science expert”, and he should be stripped of it, as should everyone who has insisted, and continues to insist, that there is a “greenhouse effect” as promulgated by Hansen et al., despite my clear presentation of the definitive evidence that simply disproves it. There has been plenty of time for that presentation to have been brought to the attention of everyone in climate science, and for science to have repudiated the greenhouse effect once and for all.

klem

So its a money thing.

Wow – pays well – scaring people. No doubt he was only thinking of the children during the pocketing of the largesse.

Coach Springer

No one asked before? I guess it was so obvious that he wasn’t interested in objective science that they figured the question was moot. Past time for this publicity. Just make it accurate.

My brother has a high profile job with NASA and would never be able to get away with this sort of behaviour. Why this nonsense from Hansen et al has been tolerated for years is beyond me.
If the Catholic Church can be compelled to release documents by US courts, how does NASA escape?

Jack Greer

“The American Tradition Institute” … “grassroots” … Chris Horner …. harassment comedy doesn’t get any better than that. Nice post, Anthony.

Hu McCulloch

Circa 2000, Hansen won the Heinz Award, which as I recall was $250,000. His hands are literally red with ketchup money! See http://www.heinzawards.net/recipients/james-hansen .
Prizes awarded for previous work, eg Nobel prizes, would ordinarily not be considered “outside employment.” But what if the Energy Secretary, say, were to win a $1 million “prize” from an oil company for creative licensing?

James Sexton

Interesting, will it go anywhere? Prob not. But, at least they truth may come out and the public can make up their own mind about whether it is important for our NASA scientists to be unbiased or uninfluenced by biased entities.

ChE

The President and the Attorney General have made clear their commitment to transparency and a high standard of ethical behavior by government employees.

Shirley, you jest.

Wil

Hansen answer to the US taxpayer? Not a chance in ——- (well you fill in the blank). Hansen is Obama’s most important employee for his “Green” strategy. For Obama’s revamping of the American way of life in an 80% renewable America which aught to be fun in and of itself. However, in a real democracy like Canada Ministers have to answer actual questions about all their departments and keep answering those question either until the Minister resigns or that employee taking advantage of the taxpayer is fired or his boss is fired. Nothing in between.
Besides we have a conservative government in Canada who withdrew us from Kyoto and all that nonsense. Wonder how that hope and change fluff is working out for our neighbors south of the border these days?

EternalOptimist

What the ?
What is Nasa all about ? as a Brit, I thought it was all about 1969, Niel Armstrong and a small step. Then Mars
not about fiddling for money , trespassing and accusing fellow citizens of running death trains
shame on Nasa

exNOAAman

My first reaction: “ATI….who are they, and how do I join/make a donation?”
Of course, we’ve seen them around; but they appear to be more and more worthy.

Olen

Hansen’s advocacy is making him wealthy while policies resulting from his work would put the general population in the poor house. This is what happens when politics directs science.

Latimer Alder

<a href="@klem

So its a money thing.

Always follow the money. It’s the bit that leaves the trail. And because it’s the means of exchange between goods of different characteristics, there is nearly always money involved.
Remember that Al Capone was eventually nicked for tax evasion, not for mobsterring.

“The President and the Attorney General have made clear their commitment to transparency and a high standard of ethical behavior by government employees. ”
It has not happened yet. Why would it start now?

KR

So – the same American Tradition Institute that filed suit against Colorado over their Renewable Energy Standard mandate, against the University of Virginia and Mann over emails, has now filed lawsuits against Hansen?
This is the same ATI that is a 501(c)3 organization with connections (shared staff, the Chris Horner mentioned above) to the Exxon funded Competitive Enterprise Institute, and with undisclosed funding?
I’m afraid this strikes me as politically and economically motivated harassment by lawyer – nothing more.

peter_dtm

mm – I work in the UK for an American Company.
If I was arrested for such activity AND my name linked to that of my employer’s I would be fired for sure.
As we see in the UK – one rule for the people who pay taxes
and one rule for those paid by taxes.

John T

Hu McCulloch says:
June 21, 2011 at 11:18 am
“Circa 2000, Hansen won the Heinz Award, which as I recall was $250,000. His hands are literally red with ketchup money! ”
And that’s about the time he seemed to really get interested in politics & climate change and supporting John Kerry (married to Teresa Heinz Kerry) in opposition to George Bush…

KR,
Don’t be such a hypocrite. Enviro groups are always in court. The difference is they use our tax money to fund their incessant lawsuits.

OK S.

I can only speak from my own knowledge as a Civil Servant for several years employed by the Department of Defense:
The organization’s commander (in my case, a Brigadier General) had to approve all outside employment to make sure it didn’t impact official duties.
Employees could only accept gifts of nominal value from entities doing business with the government (usually defined as less than $5.00 or $10.00 at various times). And that included meals, entertainment, etc.
All awards received while representing the agency (frequent flyer miles, etc.) belonged to the employing agency and could not be converted to personal use.
Per the Hatch Act, no employee could participate in political activity while on the clock, or participate off-duty as an employee without the commander’s approval (The agency’s Public Affairs Officer, for instance, but only as a spokesman for the commander).
Perhaps NASA has different rules, or things have changed. Or maybe Mr. Hansen is his own commanding official (but all government employed officials, even the elected, have bosses, except maybe Supreme Court Justices).
OK S.

afraid4me

It won’t happen. He’s working for the most secretive President and administration this country has ever seen. He spoke out against Bush and supported Kerry, that’ll keep him in high cotton until 2012.

H.R.

I’m a US taxpayer and I’d like to have assurance that the employees whose salary I help pay are abiding by the rules.
Governments since time immemorial have had rapscallions in their midst. The only check on them is full disclosure.

Hu McCulloch says:
June 21, 2011 at 11:18 am
Circa 2000, Hansen won the Heinz Award, which as I recall was $250,000. His hands are literally red with ketchup money! See http://www.heinzawards.net/recipients/james-hansen .

It must be a coincidence James Hansen said publicly that the Bush administration was trying to “silence” him, while George W. Bush was running for re-election against John Kerry, husband of Teresa Heniz-Kerry, the ketchup heiress.
http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/bush-tried-to-gag-environment-expert-525159.html
http://www.dailytech.com/US+Climate+Expert+Claims+NASA+Tried+To+Silence+Him/article510.htm

aeroguy48

Defund! Defund!! NASA EPA et al…

KR

Smokey“Enviro groups are always in court. The difference is they use our tax money to fund their incessant lawsuits.”
Could you point out the tax funded environmental groups? Outside of the EPA (in the US), which is a government agency with a mandate to protect the environment?
The ATI looks like a business driven legal harassment group to me. I have to note that I don’t know of any environmental groups driven by large company monied interests.

P Walker
Jimbo

At long last!

“clearly unwarranted violation of Hansen’s privacy rights”

No privacy of employment during publicly funded hours in my book.

“………..advising Al Gore on his movie “An Inconvenient Truth” “

A court later found nine scientific errors.

“….certain activities avoided….”

Would that include avoiding arrest multiple times?
Follow the money. >>>>>

KR says:
June 21, 2011 at 1:02 pm
Smokey – “Enviro groups are always in court. The difference is they use our tax money to fund their incessant lawsuits.”
Could you point out the tax funded environmental groups? Outside of the EPA (in the US), which is a government agency with a mandate to protect the environment?

http://windconcernsontario.wordpress.com/2011/03/02/wind-concerns-ontario-launches-end-wind-welfare-campaign/
It depends on where you look…
Since Dalton McGuinty became Premier, his government has funnelled $3,297,900 to these and other wind-campaigners through the Trillium Foundation. (Details below)
The stated mission of the Trillium Foundation is “Building healthy and vibrant communities throughout Ontario by strengthening the capacity of the voluntary sector, through investments in community-based initiatives.”
“These professional, paid, and well-funded pro-wind campaigners are not volunteers, nor are they community based. They represent special interests and are parasites dependent on the government they praise and defend for the resources that enable their lobbying efforts. We want to see the government, end all funding to these organizations and for the Trillium Foundation to stick to its mission and stop funnelling millions of dollars to special interests that support the Liberal Party’s political efforts.” stated John Laforet, President of Wind Concerns Ontario, an independent, individual donor funded, grassroots coalition representing fifty-seven community groups around Ontario opposed to industrial wind development.

KR says:
June 21, 2011 at 12:02 pm
First off, a single donation many years ago hardly makes them “Exxon funded”.
Secondly, I see you don’t even attempt to deal with the facts of the case, just dismiss it because of a tenous connection to someone you don’t like.
Truely pathetic.