Monday, October 3, 2011
Contact: Paul Chesser, [email protected]

As it waits for the resolution of its Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which seeks the outside employment permission records of global warming activist Dr. James Hansen, American Tradition Institute’s Environmental Law Center has received the belatedly filed 2010 public financial disclosure of the renowned director of the NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

ATI obtained Dr. Hansen’s Form SF 278, which is required to be filed annually, also under the Freedom of Information Act. The disclosure revealed that Dr. Hansen received between $236,000 and $1,232,500 in outside income in 2010 relating to his taxpayer-funded employment, which included:

• Between $26,008 and $72,500 in honoraria for speeches;

• Between $150,001 and $1.1 million in prizes;

• Just under $60,000 in the form of in-kind income for travel to his many outside-income generating activities

The travel reporting marked the first time Hansen detailed such “in-kind” benefits, which included apparent first-class travel for him and his wife on trips to Australia, Japan, and Norway. The new detail raises the question of whether Dr. Hansen wrongly submitted forms in previous years, which he left blank and attested “none” in the space where he is required to report travel expenses taken as part of his outside employment, all in years in which he was busy with numerous paid outside activities of the same sort as he was in 2010.

“Now that Dr. Hansen’s outside income has come under scrutiny, we see a newfound attention to detail on forms where he reports about these sources,” said Christopher Horner, ATI’s director of litigation. “It also shows that Dr. Hansen continues to enjoy a healthy level of earnings that supplement – and for his curious exploitation of – the taxpayer-funded position he holds.”

As ATI detailed in its current lawsuit against NASA in federal court in Washington, Dr. Hansen admits this income began after he escalated his public – and often political – global warming advocacy, for which outside parties have spectacularly rewarded him.

ATI sued NASA because the agency refuses to make public any forms 17-60 – the application for permission for outside employment – by invoking the Privacy Act and calling their release “a clearly unwarranted violation’ of Hansen’s privacy.” These forms would demonstrate to the public and Congress whether NASA has signed off on Hansen’s lucrative activities, even though they raise serious questions under Ethics in Government Act rules. NASA’s withholding of the 17-60s is improper because Dr. Hansen, like other federal employees of the highest levels of pay and responsibility, waives certain privacy interests as a condition of his employment. Dr. Hansen is required to file the permission forms before most or all of his outside employment activities.

These requirements that cover Dr. Hansen include annual public financial disclosure that is vastly more detailed and personal than the one-page application for permission for outside employment and other activities. This is also true of senior government officials including Members of Congress, Supreme Court Justices, the President and Vice President.

ATI expects the media will share its curiosity about Dr. Hansen’s records at NASA, considering they have shown similar recent interest in others’ disclosures. For example:

• The Wall Street Journal‘s recent coverage about Congress members’ public financial disclosures

• The Huffington Post on Thursday reported that some Democrats demand an investigation of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s filings and the propriety of his wife’s income

• The New York Times‘ recently published a (serially corrected) 2700-word piece that highlighted how public servants are “restricted from using their positions ‘for personal gain’ or on matters in which they have a direct financial interest,” and how they “must avoid outside work that can pose a ‘time conflict,’ and ‘detract from

[the employee’s] full time and attention to his official duties,’” as those rules “were designed to promote the notion of a full-time [employee].”

“That Dr. Hansen very well may be the country’s first millionaire bureaucrat — thanks to this flood of outside income since 2006 all clearly related to his public employment – raises similar questions,” Horner said. “Given his high profile and the significant role attributed to him in the climate debate, his and NASA’s own record on this front should generate at least as much interest.”

For an interview with American Tradition Institute senior director of litigation Christopher Horner, email [email protected] or call (202)670-2680.