Christopher Horner
This afternoon I am filing a lawsuit against the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), in federal district court in the District of Columbia on behalf of The American Tradition Institute’s Environmental Law Center. On the heels of obtaining a court order earlier late last month compelling the University of Virginia to produce the long-sought 'Hockey Stick'-related records, ATI's transparency project now seeks to force NASA to release ethics records for taxpayer-funded global warming activist Dr. James Hansen, specifically those pertaining to his outside employment, revenue generation, and advocacy activities.

What we are trying to determine is whether NASA approved Hansen's widespread, well-documented, high-profile and, it runs out, extremely lucrative "outside employment and other activities", permission for which must be obtained in writing, in advance. Public financial disclosures and other documents reveal that he has received at least $1.2 million in the past four years, more than doubling the taxpayer-funded salary of this senior public servant.

This money comes on top of and, more troubling, is all "related to" and is sometimes even expressly for his taxpayer-funded employment, which commenced when Hansen stepped up his "global warming" activism from his NASA perch.

On January 19, ATI filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request (PDF) with NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), which Hansen directs, seeking records detailing his and NASA's compliance with applicable federal ethics and financial disclosure laws and regulations and with NASA Rules of Behavior. Thus far the agency has denied ATI’s request for Hansen's Form 17-60 "Application for permission for outside employment and other activity", and internal discussions about same.

NASA argues rather implausibly that release would constitute a "clearly unwarranted violation of Hansen's privacy rights". More implausibly, NASA claims that ATI's several pages of explanation failed to establish that the one-page, required applications -- if they exist, which we have reason to question -- would “contribute to the public's understanding of the activities of the Government, or how it would shed light on NASA's performance of its statutory duties.”

Christopher Horner

Christopher C. Horner serves as a Senior Fellow at CEI.