Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Congress investigating scientist who advocated RICO use for climate change skeptics

By Rob Nikolewski

Climate scientist Jagadish Shukla is now under congressional investigation.

On Monday, the Republican chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology sent a letter to the attorney for the decorated George Mason University climate dynamics professor, calling for financial details regarding the Institute of Global Environment and Society, which Shukla heads.

Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, said the committee is conducting an investigation into a series of grants “worth millions of dollars” into nonprofits established by Shukla and by what Smith’s letter calls “an egregious use of taxpayer money.” left two messages with Shukla’s office Monday and Tuesday, but did not receive a response. Two voicemail messages were also left for his attorney that went unreturned.

Shukla made headlines last month when, along with 19 others, he wrote a letter to President Obama, Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy “strongly” supporting using federal racketeering laws to investigate those in the private or public sector who work with the fossil fuel industry to “undermine climate science.”

While drawing cheers from some environmentalists, Shukla and the signees drew harsh criticism from others, including some climate scientists who question the data from groups such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, often cited by the Obama administration.

Shukla’s critics have questioned his funding, specifically that of the IGES which, tax records show, lists itself as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3).

According to IRS documents, Shukla received $333,048 in total compensation from IGES in 2014 for working an average of 28 hours a week. His wife, Anne, received $166,097 in total compensation as the IGES business manager. National Review reported that Shukla’s daughter is also on the payroll, but her earnings have gone unreported.

“If this information is accurate, it raises serious questions about Dr. Shukla’s use of grant money,” Smith’s Monday letter said.

Shukla was the lead signatory of the letter calling on what’s commonly called the RICO statute as part of investigations regarding climate change.

After the resulting criticism, a number of those who signed the letter said the racketeering law would not be aimed at other scientists but against “corporations in the fossil fuel industry and their supporters” who have “knowingly deceived the American people about the risks of climate change.”

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