Interior Department Reviewing Heartland Institute ‘Payments’ To Government Scientist

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February 22, 2012 12:02 p.m.

The Interior Department is “reviewing” whether a government climate change expert held over from the Bush administration received improper payments from an institution known for its opposition to environmental regulation, a spokesman tells TPM.

Indur M. Goklany, a senior advisor in the program coordination section of the Interior Department’s Office of Policy, was supposed to receive a payment of $1,000 per month according to a budget for the Heartland Institute that leaked online. The budget was obtained by climate scientist Peter Gleick, who apologized for using a false name to obtain the documents from the Heartland Institute and anonymously emailing the documents to writers who cover environmental policy.Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) called for Congress to investigate the apparent payments to Goklany in a letter to Republican Rep. Doc Hastings (R-VA), who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee and Democrat Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), the ranking member of the committee. Grijalva said that federal employees aren’t supposed to accept payments from outside groups for “teaching, speaking and writing that relates to [their] official duties” (5 C.F.R. § Part 2635 is the regulation which speaks to this issue).

“We do not know whether Dr. Goklany received the money he was apparently promised by the Heartland Institute,” Grijalva wrote in the letter. “Nor do we know whether other Interior Department employees have been offered, or accepted, similar arrangements with other organizations that seek to influence federal policy.”

Grijalva continued:

For that matter, we do not know what confidential information Dr. Goklany may have shared with Heartland officials in the course of negotiating his payment agreements. These questions need answers, and our Committee has a unique responsibility to find those answers.

Interior Department spokesman Adam Fetcher told TPM the agency was “reviewing the matter,” but declined further comment. Goklany did not respond to an email seeking comment.

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