Retired NASA atmospheric scientist John Theon tells ICCC that Hatch Act is grounds for media darling's firing.

Is it possible that one of the most outspoken figures of the global warming alarmist movement has violated ethical, if not legal boundaries in his job? John Theon, a retired senior NASA atmospheric scientist said he believed so.

Theon told an audience at The Heartland Institute's 2009 International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC) in New York on March 11 that the head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, James Hansen, should be fired. Hansen is widely known for his outspokenness on the issue of man made global warming.

"I have publicly said I thought Jim Hansen should be fired," Theon said. "But, my opinion doesn't count much, particularly when he is empowered by people like the current president of the United States. I'm not sure what we can do to have him get off of the public payroll and continue with the campaign or crusade. I think the man is sincere, but he is suffering from a bad case of megalomania."

In 2001, Hansen received a $250,000 Heinz Environment Award for his research on global warming, an award named for deceased Sen. John Heinz, R-Pa. His widow, Teresa Heinz Kerry is now married to Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who ran for president in 2004. Hansen later publicly endorsed Kerry for the presidency and according to Theon, that's a problem for Hansen.

"Yes, that is absolutely illegal," Theon said. "There is a law called the Hatch Act, which prevents any civil servant, including Jim Hansen from endorsing any political cause publicly and he certainly did that. That alone is grounds for firing, and if not imprisonment or fine."

But Hansen has avoided retribution for violation of the Hatch Act, a law that restricts the political activity of executive branch employees of the federal government, because he is well-connected, according to Theon.

"People have complained to me, the inspector general of NASA, and they say because of Hansen's very powerful political connections, it has had no effect to date," he said.

Theon explained that Hansen rose to prominence in the global warming debate when he was invited by former Vice President Al Gore to testify before Congress when Gore was a member of the U.S. Senate.

"In 1988, then-Sen. Albert Gore, Jr. invited Dr. Hansen to testify before a congressional committee concerning his carbon research," Theon said. Hansen blindsided his supervisors by contradicting NASA's official position on global warming.

"Dr. Hansen stated that global warming is here now - that's my paraphrasing - and [we] had to do something about it. At that time," Theon explained, "I was working at NASA headquarters. Between the years 1982 and 1994, I was responsible for all NASA weather and climate research, except those dealing with the stratosphere.

"Dr. Hansen's revelation came as a surprise and an embarrassment to me and my superiors at NASA headquarters," Theon said. "The official NASA position at that time was climate change - we did not know enough to understand the climate system and more research was needed. The official policy was that NASA does not and did not know as scientists."

Hansen has been the recipient of media accolades as the anthropogenic global warming alarmist movement has gained steam. He was listed as one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in 2006. Recently, Hansen was awarded the 2009 Carl-Gustaf Rossby Research Medal, the highest honor bestowed by the American Meteorological Society. But despite all this attention, Hansen has said NASA has tried to silence him.

In 2006, Hansen told Andrew Revkin of The New York Times that "NASA headquarters had ordered the public affairs staff to review all his coming lectures, papers, postings on the Goddard Web site and requests for interviews from journalists."

"In his more than 1,000 speeches, interviews, publications and public appearances since 1998, it is difficult for me to believe that Dr. Hansen has even been bothered," Theon said.