WASHINGTON – Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today sent a letter to Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey in response to her objections to the committee’s validly-issued subpoena served on July 13 and accepted on July 14. Today’s letter, sent one day after Chairman Smith’s similar letter to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, states the committee finds Attorney General Healey’s objections without merit.
“The Committee is conducting an investigation to determine whether the actions of your office are having an adverse impact on federally-funded scientific research. If such an adverse impact is discovered, the Committee may consider changes to federal law and/or the amount and allocation of federal funding for scientific research. The Committee’s goal is to maximize the efficient and effective use of federal tax dollars intended to advance the progress of science without regard to non-scientific considerations such as a fear that certain types of scientifically justified research may lead to costly state investigations and adverse political pressure,” Chairman Smith explains.
The committee’s inquiry is valid because it satisfies a three-prong test articulated by the Supreme Court, is consistent with the Tenth Amendment, and adheres to longstanding congressional practice in recognizing common law and state statutory privileges at its discretion.
For the American scientific enterprise to remain successful and for federal funding of scientific research to be most effective, it is necessary that scientists are free to pursue research and intellectual inquiry in accordance with scientific principles without fear of reprisal, harassment, or undue burden.
“If businesses believe that the research they fund can be mischaracterized for political or ideological reasons and used to build cases of fraud against the company, they will have a powerful incentive to cease funding that research and instead to direct their funds elsewhere. This, in fact, may be your goal.
“Similarly, if scientists believe that their industry-sponsored research, or discussions with industry about research funded by other sources, will be subpoenaed if it is in disagreement with the beliefs and preferences of state officials or advocacy groups, they will have a powerful incentive to cease conducting that research or disseminating the results of their research to all interested parties. Maybe this is your goal, too,” today’s letter states.
Today’s letter to Attorney General Healey can be found here.