For Immediate Release: Monday, July 20, 2020
Contact: Chandra Rosenthal (303) 898-0798; Kirsten Stade firstname.lastname@example.org
Allegations Against Climate Scientist Fall Apart
University of Colorado Bureaucratic Infighting Disrupts Climate Research
Boulder, CO — Newly discovered documents from the University of Colorado-Boulder (CU) reveal a misguided campaign by a group of bookkeepers to fire a world-renowned climate scientist, according to documents posted by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The revelation that there were, in fact, no “accounting violations” despite an intense pursuit by University insiders bolsters prospects for impending litigation.
Dr. Detlev Helmig is an internationally recognized expert in atmospheric research and climate science. For the last 25 years at CU, and since 2003 as an Associate Research Professor, he has been researching, teaching and publishing at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR). Dr. Helmig has authored more than 200 scientific publications in peer-reviewed journals.
On April 7, 2020, the University fired Dr. Helmig without any evidence and spent the next ten weeks conducting an after-the-fact investigation in order to justify his termination. An internal audit revealed that since the University’s stated reasons for his termination were not defensible, investigators went back years to try to find additional problems with Dr. Helmig but came up short. Despite not having any evidence to back their illegal termination, the University engaged in a blistering smear campaign against Dr. Helmig and released the discredited investigative audit report to the local Daily Camera newspaper before it was given to Dr. Helmig or his attorney, Joe Salazar.
“After conducting an intensive document gathering mission, the University’s stated reasons for terminating Dr. Helmig have fallen completely apart. Sadly, the documents also show that because it could not justify Dr. Helmig’s termination, it took the next illegal step by publicly attacking his reputation,” stated Joe Salazar, a former state legislator and a prominent employment attorney who represents Dr. Helmig. “Dr. Helmig’s reputation was needlessly put into question because of an accountant who had an obvious and unfathomable dislike for him.”
Dr. Helmig has been gagged by the University from speaking to the other scientists at the University or the National Science Foundation (NSF). New findings reveal that just three days after Dr. Helmig’s dismissal, the NSF raised its concerns about how Dr. Helmig’s work would continue. On July 15, 2020, PEER reached out to the NSF and requested that it look into how its grant money at INSTAAR is being administered.
“The University’s case against Dr. Helmig does not pass the straight-face test,” stated PEER Rocky Mountain Director Chandra Rosenthal, noting that supposed discrepancies did not even approach, let alone support, allegations of misconduct. “The University is in an economic crisis, yet it chose to overlook the fact that Dr. Helmig has brought in over $20 million in grants to the University, and instead focused on the fact that he didn’t spend all his travel budget.” “Is it proper for the University to spend two years in pursuit of dirt on someone who received an annual review of “exceeds” or “highly exceeds expectations” every year?”
Dr. Helmig’s research is international in scope as well as instrumental to the local air quality in Colorado. The “Clean up Colorado’s Air Act” passed in early 2020. When it was signed into law, Sen. Steve Fenberg, Senate Majority Leader and the lead sponsor of the bill, thanked Dr. Helmig for his help with the bill. As a token of appreciation, Dr. Helmig was given the pen with which the governor signed the bill.
Dr. Helmig and his supporters are pressing for an independent review of the case by the Colorado State Auditor.