A global warming crusader used a tax-exempt nonprofit to stuff his families’ pockets at the expense of taxpayers, according to a complaint filed with the Internal Revenue Service by two watchdog groups Tuesday.
The Competitive Enterprise Institute and Cause of Action filed a complaint asking the IRS to revoke the exempt status of the Institute of Global Environment and Society Inc. – a global warming advocate that has received over $60 million in federal grants.
The nonprofit’s founder and president is George Mason University Professor Jagadish Shukla, who was also the lead signatory of a Sept. 1 letter urging President Obama to investigate fossil fuel companies for deceiving “the American people about the risks of climate change, as a means to forestall America’s response to climate change.”
The letter said the government should use the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act that is used to prosecute members of organized crime syndicates.
“It’s incredibly ironic that, while Dr. Shukla accuses global warming skeptics of deceiving the public, his own environmental organization has been pulling a fast one at taxpayer expense,” said CEI General Counsel Sam Kazman. “His attempt to use RICO to silence public debate is groundless, and so is his organization’s tax-exempt status.”
Shukla was “double dipping” between his nonprofit and George Mason, according to the complaint.
“Evidence gleaned from public and IRS records tends to show that Dr. Shukla was compensated by George Mason University for time spent on IGES projects and vice-versa,” the complaint said. “It is not clear what work, if any, Dr. Shukla performs on behalf of IGES that is separate from his full-time work as a professor and director of the Climate Dynamics Program at George Mason University.”
For example, Shukla received $333,000 from IGES in 2014 for working 28 hours per week and was paid $314,000 by George Mason that same year. He earned $647,000 total in2014 between George Mason and IGES.
Meanwhile, IGES’ business manager and Shukla’s wife – Anastasia Shukla – received $166,000 in 2014, while his daughter, Sonia, is employed as their assistant at an undisclosed salary.
“It is clear that Dr. Shukla and his family are privately profiting from the funds directed to IGES,” Cause of Action Executive Director Dan Epstein said in a statement. “An abuse of federal funds by a nonprofit is clear grounds for revoking its tax-exempt status, and the IRS should seriously consider this complaint and revoke IGES’s tax status.”
Federal tax regulations prohibit nonprofits from benefiting “any private shareholder or individual.”
Also, IGES received more than $3.8 million in government grants, which accounted for all of its contributions and all but nearly $14,000 of its total revenue, according to the complaint. That means Shukla and his family were actually paid mostly with tax dollars.
“The evidence also reveals that the Shuklas conducted a scheme designed unlawfully to funnel federal funds from IGES to another non-profit entity controlled by the Shuklas,” the complaint said.
IGES granted $100,000 to the Institute of Global Education Equality of Opportunity and Prosperity Inc., where Jagadish and Anastasia Shukla are two of the three directors.
The second nonprofit later granted that same amount to India’s Gandhi College – which Shukla established in 2000, according to the complaint. The college’s website is also hosted by IGES.
Shukla and IGES are the center of a House Committee on Science, Space and Technology investigation for federal grants abuse, as well.
IGES’s website claims “all research projects” were completed, the group is being “dissolved” and its “website is in the process of being decommissioned,” the Daily Caller News Foundation previously reported.
The National Science Foundation, however, still has a nearly $5 million grant active through April 2017 with the Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies, which shares a website with IGES and lists Shukla as president.
Regardless, there is no real evidence that IGES is actually dissolving and proven criminal liability would still remain, Cause of Action Senior Counsel Lee Steven told TheDCNF.