IRS Complaint Filed Against RICO 20 Think Tank

Published January 11, 2016

The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a research institute, and Cause of Action (CoA), a government watchdog organization, have filed a complaint with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that requests the agency investigate Jagadish Shukla, a climate researcher at George Mason University, and revoke the tax-exempt status of the Institute of Global Environment and Society, Inc. (IGES), an organization Shukla founded.

Shukla was the lead author of a letter sent on September 1 to President Barack Obama, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and White House Office of Science Policy Director John Holdren calling for a RICO investigation of corporations and other organizations that have allegedly “deceived the American people” about the risks of climate change.

The letter—signed by 20 researchers, often called the “RICO 20” by many—was published on IGES’ website. IGES, a nonprofit educational institute that received $63 million dollars in federal grants, which accounts for 98 percent of its operating revenue since 2001, is supposed to undertake educational activities, not engage in advocacy or lobbying.

Shukla and IGES were already being investigated by the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology for possibly misusing federal grants when CEI and CoA filed their joint complaint. The complaint alleges while IGES’ stated mission is to engage in climate research, it actually exists to illegally benefit Shukla and his family.

Commenting on the complaint, Sam Kazman, general counsel for CEI, said, “By trying to get government officials to invoke RICO against those who differ with him on global warming, Shukla has abandoned any pretense of scientific debate.

“For that reason, it is supremely ironic, as our petition points out, [Skukla’s] own activities may well fall on the dark side of legality,” Kazman said. 

Tax Money Pushes Agenda

John Dale Dunn—an emergency physician, lawyer, and a policy advisor for The Heartland Institute, which publishes Environment & Climate News—says Shukla’s arrangement with federal agencies is a scandal because he’s been paid taxpayer money to “shill” for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) climate agenda.

“[Shukla] should be perp-walked to jail for taking tax money to push a political agenda,” said Dunn. “The law says federal agencies can’t use taxpayer dollars to advocate for the position of the agency, but the EPA is a rogue agency and the only reason they used him for their advocacy is that it would reduce the amount of criticism they would receive if they did it themselves.”

Dunn says Shukla has performed no significant policy research on climate over the past 10 years he’s been taking taxpayer money.

“All he’s done is shill for the EPA,” Dunn said. “The really bad news is the EPA and other federal agencies are spending hundreds of millions of dollars every year on guys like this that advocate for their position.”

Kenneth Artz ([email protected]) writes from Dallas, Texas.  


Cause of Action and Competitive Enterprise Institute, “Complaint to Revoke the Tax-Exempt Status of the Institute of Global Environment and Society, Inc.,” November 24, 2015: