In early September, twenty professors sent a letter President Barack Obama, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and White House science adviser John Holdren that congratulates the President on his climate policies to raise energy prices and impoverish Americans and then urges that another tool be used to save the planet: criminalize opponents of global warming alarmism. Here is the key request in the letter:
“We appreciate that you are making aggressive and imaginative use of the limited tools available to you in the face of a recalcitrant Congress. One additional tool—recently proposed by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse [D-RI]—is a RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) investigation of corporations and other organizations that have knowingly deceived the American people about the risks of climate change, as a means to forestall America’s response to climate change. The actions of these organizations have been extensively documented in peer-reviewed academic research (Brulle 2013) and in recent books….”
The lead signer was Professor Jagadish Shukla of George Mason University in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC. Five other signers are also from GMU: Edward Maibach, Paul Dirmeyer, Barry Klinger, Paul Schopf, and David Straus. Columbia University can proudly claim three signers: Michela Biasutti, Mark Cane, and Lisa Goddard.
Two signers profess at the University of Washington: Edward Sarachik and Michael Wallace. Two more are at the University of Maryland: Eugenia Kalnay and William Lau. And two more are at Florida State University: T. N. Krishnamurti and Vasu Misra. Alan Robock of Rutgers University, Ben Kirtman of the University of Miami, and Robert Dickinson of the University of Texas are the sole signers from their universities. Kevin Trenberth at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder and Alan Betts of Pittsford, Vermont complete the Gang of 20.
My CEI colleague Chris Horner filed requests for public records with the various universities to obtain the signers’ statements of economic interest after it was revealed that Professor Shukla has been paying himself and his wife huge salaries from federal grants to a non-profit he controls called the Institute of Global Environment and Society (IGES) in addition to his GMU salary. Their combined income was over $800,000 in 2013 and 2014. In addition, federal grants were used to pay the Shuklas’ daughter. Steve McIntyre on Climate Audit has a thorough summary of what has been discovered so far.
House Science Chairman Lamar Smith on 1st October wrote a letter to Professor Shukla that states:
“IGES appears to be almost fully funded by taxpayer money while simultaneously participating in partisan political activity by requesting a RICO investigation of companies and organizations that disagree with the Obama administration on climate change. In fact, IGES has reportedly received $63 million from taxpayers since 2001, comprising over 98 percent of its total revenue during that time.”
Chairman Smith’s letter warns Professor Shukla that the committee intends to investigate this misuse of federal funds and that all IGES records and communications should be preserved.