The ramifications from the recent leak of Heartland Institute documents continue. After identification of Heartland funding ($1,000/month) going to a federal employee, seemingly first noticed by the investigative folks at Greenpeace, Representative Raúl M. Grijalva has “called for a full Natural Resources Committee hearing to probe whether Indur Goklany, a Senior Advisor at the U.S. Interior Department, improperly received payments from the Heartland Institute while collecting a paycheck from U.S. taxpayers,” as DeSmog Blog, central in getting the Heartland documents out to the public after they were provided to the site by Dr. Peter Gleick, reports.
Rep. Grijalva wants the hearing to start as early as next week. The investigation would focus on whether or not Goklany “received money he was promised by the Heartland Institute for writing a chapter in a book focused on climate policy in apparent violation of federal rules, among other issues.”
Here’s more on the issue from Greenpeace’s statement (the remaining text was written by Greenpeace USA’s Executive Director, Philip D. Radford in a letter to the DOI):
According to DOI’s website, Indur Goklany is a “Senior Advisor” in the Office of Policy Analysis.
We are disturbed that a DOI employee is apparently accepting payments from an organization that is actively attempting to influence government policies on climate change. On its website, the Heartland Institute states that its mission is “to promote free market solutions.”6 One way the group accomplishes these goals is through its publications. According to Heartland:
Heartland sends six monthly public policy newspapers addressing the major domestic public policy issues to every national and state elected official in the U.S. plus 8,400 county and local officials and thousands of civic and business leaders. It also produces books, policy studies, and booklets.
Another strategy for Heartland is its government relations program. According to the group’s website:
Our government relations staff made more than one million contacts with elected officials in 2010, 14,715 of those contacts were one-on-one either in person, by phone, or by oneto-one emails.
We find it alarming that a federal employee at DOI may be taking money from the Heartland Institute. Federal regulations guard against such attempts at influence. For instance, in 2006 Hale Hawbecker with the DOI Ethics Office released a power point titled “Doing Things Right: Ethical Considerations in Government Service.”
In the presentation, Mr. Hawbecker discussed criminal conduct and the acceptance of outside employment by federal employees, as well regulations governing gifts from outside sources. Slide number 24 details “prohibited sources” from which a government official cannot accept gifts. On slide number 25, he listed “more prohibited sources” from which federal employees may not accept gifts. Among the prohibited sources, Mr. Hawbeck lists “an outside organization that seeks to influence the government.”
On slide 37, Mr. Hawbeck addressed prohibited outside activities, which are regulated under 5 C.F.R. 2635.801-809. The slide states:
You generally may not receive pay for teaching, speaking and writing that relates to your official duties
We completely agree that it is unacceptable for outside organizations to give gifts or other compensation to DOI employees. In fact, it is our policy to not provide government scientists with gifts or other compensation to ensure the objectivity of federal research.
CONCLUSION AND QUESTIONS
We are concerned that the DOI apparently allows a federal scientist to receive payments from an outside group attempting to influence federal policy. And according to the DOI’s own policies, this appears to be illegal. In order to help us understand this issue better, please respond to the following questions and requests for documents.
- Please explain the DOI’s policies and procedures on federal employees receiving income and/or gifts from outside groups attempting to influence policy.
- If Indur Goklany received payments and/or gifts from the Heartland Institute, did he violate any policies/procedures of the DOI? If not, please explain why not.
- If the Heartland Institute provided payment and/or gifts to Indur Goklany, did it violate any policies and/or procedures of the DOI? If not, please explain why not.