The main climate scientist behind a letter asking President Barack Obama to prosecute those who question global warming may have been cheating taxpayers by illegally “double-dipping” — he was paying himself and his wife millions of dollars while running a taxpayer-funded research group while collecting a paycheck from his state-funded academic job.
“Since 2001, as President of IGES, Dr. Shukla appears to have paid himself and his wife a total of $5.6 million in compensation — an excessive amount for a non-profit relying on taxpayer money,” Texas Republican Rep. [crscore]Lamar Smith[/crscore] sent to the inspector general of the National Science Foundation.
“The public expects non-profit organizations that receive taxpayer money to exercise responsible stewardship of their tax dollars,” Smith wrote. “In this case, it appears that grants provided to IGES did not serve the intended purpose of providing services to the public. Instead, taxpayers picked up the tab for excessive double dipping salaries, nepotism, and questionable money transfers.”
Climate scientist Jagadish Shukla of George Mason University, who also ran the Institute of Global Environment and Society (IGES), made headlines last summer when he sent a letter to the Obama administration asking them to prosecute global warming skeptics with an anti-mafia law — the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).
The letter sparked huge pushback from skeptic bloggers, who began looking into Shukla’s organization, IGES, and found he was collecting millions from taxpayers while calling for those who disagree with him to be investigated by the Department of Justice. IGES eventually deleted the letter from its website, and the group tried to explain away the letter.
House science committee Republicans took notice and began to investigate Shukla’s getting rich off taxpayer grants. Now, Smith says the committee has evidence Shukla was diverting taxpayer funds to another nonprofit he founded and was breaking Virginia state law by “double-dipping.”
“It appears IGES may have improperly commingled taxpayer funds with private charitable contributions when it shifted $100,000 to an education charity in India founded by Dr. Shukla,” Smith wrote. “This raises concerns that taxpayer money intended to be used for climate research was redirected to an overseas organization favored by Dr. Shukla.”
Smith also cited a recent audit by George Mason University which, he says, Shukla was illegally “double-dipping” by collecting money from the National Science Foundation while also getting paid by Virginia taxpayers.
“In other words, he received his full salary at GMU, while working full time at IGES and receiving a full salary there,” Smith wrote. “This practice may have violated GMU’s university policy, his employment contract with the university, and Virginia state law.”
“Dr. Shukla violated this policy five different time periods from 2003 to 2015 because he failed to receive approval for paid consulting in excess of one day per week,” he added. “This allowed Dr. Shukla to double dip by receiving his full salary from GMU while receiving an excessive salary for working 28 hours per week at IGES.”
IGES gets virtually all of its funding from U.S. taxpayers, including the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA.
IGES got some $3.8 million from taxpayers in 2014, according to tax filings. But what’s interesting is Shukla, the group’s president, makes more than $333,000 in compensation only working for IGES part-time — 28 hours per week. On top of this, he also got paid by GMU — possibly violating state law and university policies.
“In total, Dr. Shukla received $511,410 in compensation from IGES and GMU during 2014, without ever receiving the appropriate permission from GMU officials, apparently violating university policy,” Smith wrote.
His wife, Anne Shukla, makes another $166,000 per year working at IGES, and tax filings say she works full-time.
Shukla’s September letter to the Obama administration pushed for a “RICO 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.”
“If corporations in the fossil fuel industry and their supporters are guilty of the misdeeds that have been documented in books and journal articles, it is imperative that these misdeeds be stopped as soon as possible so that America and the world can get on with the critically important business of finding effective ways to restabilize the Earth’s climate, before even more lasting damage is done,” Shukla and 19 other climate researchers wrote to Obama last year.
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