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A Brief Summary of James E. Hansen’s NASA Ethics File

Green advocacy begets green income.

by
Christopher Horner

Bio

November 18, 2011 - 10:14 am
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If there were further correspondence about this demand it would be in NASA’s document production, but there are no such records. The only lawful scenario, therefore, is that Hansen quietly agreed to the demand, but did not inform NASA whether he complied. Otherwise, NASA, Hansen, or both have violated the ethics and/or transparency statutes and regulation.

Yet subsequent financial disclosure forms show Hansen attesting to accepting even more money, between $5,001 and $15,000, for a 2008 speech at Illinois Wesleyan University for which his file, according to NASA, contains no request for permission to engage in this outside employment, or approval to do so (each a condition precedent to lawfully engage in the activity, and to accepting the money).

There is no correspondence about these two glaring discrepancies in his filings reflecting more apparently improperly accepted outside income than most federal employees will ever see in their careers.

In order to continue his employment Hansen would therefore be required to bring himself back in compliance with the ethics rules by returning the money, between somewhere more than $10,000, and $26,000.

Although Hansen reported the income from both honoraria, he did not report receipt of travel expenses for him to get there. This omission is a pattern in his filings, to the tune of surely tens of thousands of dollars for airfare, meals and lodging to locations all around the country and Europe, all required by ethics laws to be reported.

For example, consider these failures to report often elegant air and hotel/resort accommodations received on his SF278 as required by law (the amount of direct cash income received from the party providing him travel, as well, is in parentheses):

Blue Planet Prize ($500,000), travel for Hansen and his wife to Tokyo, Japan, 2010

Dan David Prize ($500,000), travel to Paris, 2007

Sophie Prize ($100,000), Oslo Norway, travel for Hansen and his wife, 2010

WWF Duke of Edinburgh Award, Travel for Hansen and his wife, London, 2006

Alpbach, Austria (alpine resort)(“business class”, with wife), 2007

Shell Oil UK ($10,000), London, 2009

FORO Cluster de Energia, travel for Hansen and wife (“business class”), Bilbao, Spain, 2008

ACT Coalition, travel for Hansen and wife to London, 2007

Progressive Forum ($10,000)(“first class”), to Houston, 2006

Progressive Forum ($10,000), to Houston, 2009

UCSB ($10,000), to Santa Barbara, CA

Nierenberg Prize ($25,000), to San Diego, 2008

Nevada Medal ($20,000), to Las Vegas, Reno, 2008

EarthWorks Expos, to Denver, 2006

California Academy of Science ($1,500), to San Francisco, 2009

CalTech ($2,000), travel to Pasadena, CA for Hansen and his wife, 2007

The following is an incomplete list of other travel apparently accepted to make paid speeches and/or receive cash awards but not reported on SF278 financial disclosures:

Boston, Washington, DC (twice); Columbus, OH; Omaha, NE; Wilmington, DE; Ithaca, NY (business class); Chapel Hill, NC; Deerfield, IL (Sierra Club “No Coal” campaign); Dartmouth, NH; Alberta, Canada (as consultant to a law firm helping run an anti-oil sands campaign), Stanford; Minneapolis; Missoula, MT

Other travel apparently accepted but not reported, to provide expert testimony including on cases involving federal policy:

California (Central Valley Chrysler-Jeep v. Witherspoon), Vermont (Green Mountain Chrysler Plymouth etc v. Torti)

Failing to Report Gifts

World Wildlife Fund gave Hansen an engraved Montres Rolex watch, which typically run $8,000 and up (2006), but which was not reported by Hansen on his SF 278 under “gifts”, which must be reported if valued at more than $260.

Failure to Report Receipt of Free Legal Services

On his website Hansen said he began accepting free legal services in 2006. These are not reported on his financial disclosures, as they should be.

Also, NASA’s document production shows him attesting to receiving more, separate free legal services in the form of an amicus brief drafted for he and a few others to intervene before the Supreme Court in Massachusetts v. EPA. This was not reported on his SF278, as required.

These lapses on both Hansen’s part and NASA demand scrutiny to determine how laws designed to protect the taxpayer are, or are not, being respected.

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Christopher Horner is a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and author of the recently-published The Liberal War on Transparency: Confessions of a Freedom of Information "Criminal".
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