Raúl Grijalva may not be a household name, but the Democratic Congressman from Arizona — who also sits as ranking member on the House Committee on Natural Resources in Washington, D.C. — is making waves all the way out here in Malibu.
Last week, Grijalva made national news by sending out letters to eight university presidents across the country, requesting information regarding conflicts of interest in climate research conducted by professors, including Pepperdine’s own Professor Steven Hayward at the School of Public Policy.
Grijalva’s letter, which was sent to Pepperdine President and CEO Andrew Benton on Feb. 24, cites a New York Times report that highlights “potential conflicts of interest and failure to disclose corporate funding sources in academic climate research.”
The request names Hayward as being an outspoken denier of climate change, saying that on top of spending “years on the board of the Koch-funded Institute for Energy Research,” he called a 2013 U.S.-Canada International Joint Commission report on Great Lakes climate impacts “some kind of cannabis-related entity that went into the wrong meeting room somewhere, and produced another silly climate report that has been falsified already. I suggest they all go out and get real jobs.”
Grijalva’s letter, sent on Congressional letterhead, requests Benton provide several pieces of information, including Pepperdine’s policy on employee financial disclosure, drafts of Hayward’s testimony before any governmental body or agency, information on Hayward’s sources of external funding, all financial disclosure forms in which Hayward lists Pepperdine as his affiliation and Hayward’s total annual compensation at Pepperdine.
In response to Grijalva’s letter, Hayward wrote a blog post for PowerLine Blog, for which he is a daily contributor. In it, Hayward says although there are no undisclosed financial supporters of his writing, it would not change the outcome of his research if there were.
In a Feb. 25 article entitled “Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been A Climate Skeptic?” Hayward wrote, “Let’s start by axing [sic] a simple question: If I say ‘two plus two equals four,’ does the truth of that proposition depend on whether I’ve received a grant from the Charles G. Koch Foundation?”
“Apparently it does for Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), the ranking member of the House Committee on Natural Resources,” Hayward goes on to say.
In a Feb. 27 article by another PowerLine blogger, John Hinderaker, Hayward said, “I’m still just starting to lace up my boxing gloves on this one.”
Pepperdine’s website does state that the school has a policy regarding conflicts of interest in research funding.
“In accordance with Federal regulations, Pepperdine University has a responsibility to manage, reduce or eliminate any actual or potential conflicts of interest that may be presented by a financial interest of an investigator,” the statement, located on the Policies page of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs Department website, says. “Thus, investigators must disclose any significant financial interest that may reasonably appear to be affected by sponsored projects. Investigators must fully disclose any significant financial interest before the proposal is submitted.”
It is still uncertain how or even if Pepperdine’s administration plans to respond to Grijalva’s request for information.
Policy questions directed to the university’s Office of Research and Sponsored Programs were redirected to the university’s Public Affairs office, which, as of deadline, did not reply to multiple requests for more detailed information on university policies.
A representative for the school did provide a short statement.
“The University is carefully evaluating Rep. Grijalva’s request. We’re currently determining what information we may have that responds to his request,” said Tiffany Wright, University spokesperson, in an email to The Malibu Times.