UT’s GROAT AND REGNERUS SCANDALS HAVE A LOT IN COMMON
UT’s inquiry failed to acknowledge very serious undisclosed conflicts of interest — and conflicts of commitment — involving Regnerus and hisÂ anti-gay-rights NFSS funders.
Contemporaneously, UT was embroiled in an ethics scandal involving its Professor Charles Groat, who had carried out a study on fracking wastewater without disclosing his conflicts of interest, including that he was on the board of Â a fracking industry company and held over $1.5 million in its stock.
When outside watchdog groups first brought Groat’s conflicts of interest to UT’s attention, the school attempted to sweep them under the carpet, as it is doing still today with Regnerus’s undisclosed conflicts of interest and conflicts of commitment, and the misconduct connected to them.
Subsequently, though, in the Groat scandal, the Public Accountability Initiative compiled a more thorough complaint. The university then had an independent outside panel review UT’s scandalous situation.
As a result of that panel’s review of UT’s scandalous situation, UT has — at long last –Â confessed that its prior ethics oversight was completely inadequate to maintaining research integrity consistently throughout the school.
Through public pressures, UT is now being compelled dramatically to review and to strengthen its policies. Groat is no longer with the university — he went shamefully slinking away — and the head of UT’s Energy Institute, Raymond Orbach, publicly embarrassed and humiliated, resigned from the position.
UT FAILED TO PROVIDE PROPER ETHICS OVERSIGHT OF ITS PROFESSORS’ RESEARCH PROJECTS
The most damning part of this story for UT is not that Groat and Orbach acted as they did; it’s that UT’s ethics oversight polices were substandard, shabby and disreputable, enabling dishonest scholars — like Mark Regnerus — to get away with shady deeds and academic flim-flammery.
UT’s student newspaper,Â The Daily Texan,Â published an op-ed from its Editorial Board, titled UT’s Scape ‘Groat‘, the gist of which is that UT administration — (which let Regnerus off the hook without acknowledging the very serious undisclosed conflicts of interest involved in the NFSS) — Â deserves far more criticism for the previously reigning shabby research standards than do Groat or Orbach.
A San Antonio publication reporting on UT’s Groat scandal noted that the outside panel reviewing Groat’s work looked at research ethics standards that are applied at leading research institutions and found that “All have policies that say manuscripts should be accompanied by clear disclosures.” (Bolding added).
NON-DISCLOSURE OF CONFLICTS OF INTEREST STILL A HUGE ISSUE IN THE REGNERUS STUDY
Not only does Regnerus not make clear disclosures in his June, 2012 New Family Structures Study article and again in his November article of “Additional Analyses”;Â he actually lies about his relationships with his heterosupremacist, anti-gay-rights funders.
The review panel’s report to UT — which UT has alleged it fully accepts — states that:
“The role and contribution of all participants in projects should be accurately and thoroughly documented in all reports, projects, and presentations.”
It is, nonetheless, perfectly clear that “the role and contribution of all participants” in Regnerus’s work have not been “accurately and thoroughly documented in all reports, projects, and presentations” related to the New Family Structures Study.
The report on Groat, furthermore, concludes that Groat’s “studyÂ falls short of the generally accepted rigor required for the publication of scientific work.” (Bolding added).
THE ANTI-GAY, UT-REGNERUS-WITHERSPOON STUDY LACKS SCIENTIFIC RIGOR
Regnerus’s New Family Structures StudyÂ clearly also “falls short of the generally accepted rigor required for the publication of scientific work.”
For example, Regnerus’s published article refers throughout to “lesbian mothers” and to “gay fathers” — and his funders continue using the study as a weapon against gay and lesbian people, even as Regnerus goes onÂ promoting the study side-by-side with those anti-gay-rights funders — and yet, despite all of that, in an interview with Focus on the Family’s Citizen Link, Regnerus confessed that he does not know about the sexual orientation of his study respondents’ parents.
How is that for scientific rigor?
Create a bogus study for your anti-gay-rights funders to use as a weapon against gay parents — with a funding agency representative having collaborated with you on formulating the booby-trapped study design — and then, moreover, help the funders to use the study as a weapon against gay parents — even though you do not know whether any of your study subjects’ parents were in fact gay.
As regards Regnerus, UT is not currently living up to the research standards that the university alleges it accepts should be in force.
As of this writing, UT’s own official website for Regnerus’s and Witherspoon’s New Family Structures Study still says that the NFSS is about “young adults raised by same-sex parents.”
UT IS ABETTING REGNERUS AND WITHERSPOON TO REPRESENT THE NFSS TO THE PUBLIC UNDER FALSE PRETENSES
UT hence is directly responsible for aiding and abetting Regnerus and his anti-gay funders to misrepresent the NFSS to the public, from an anti-gay point of view.
Many of Regnerus’s study subjects never even at all lived with the parent that the study mislabels as a “gay father” and/or a “lesbian mother;” — that very obviously does mean that the study subjects absolutely were not “raised by same-sex parents.” (Bolding added).
Thus UT itself — on one of its official websites, no less — is making flagrantly false claims about the Regnerus study. This false, propagandistic wording about the study on UT’s official site for the study is directly helping Regnerus’s anti-gay-rights funders to promote this sleazy and corrupt, booby-trapped study as though it had any scientific merit and as though it were genuinely of any use in studying gay parenting.
IS UT WITHHOLDING INCRIMINATING DOCUMENTATION INVOLVING THE REGNERUS-WITHERSPOON STUDY?
UT in the main is attempting to deny all reporters’ Public Information Act requests for documentation involving the Regnerus study. However, in an October 2, 2012 letter that UT sent to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott asking for legal exemptions for the Public Information Act requests, UT revealed that prior to publication of the NFSS, UT administration plotted with Regnerus on how to put public relations spin on the study. The school expected negative reactions and was fearful for its “branding.”
As Dr. Gary Kinsman has said:Â â€œIf UT and Regnerus had these discussionsÂ prior to the release of the study, they realized that there would be things they would have to cover up for. If it was a completely legitimate study, why would you be preparing for the release in this way?Â UT and Regnerus were going way beyond just preparing to answer questions about the research straightforwardly. You can always answer questions about research, but to prepare in these ways suggests that they were aware of the problems in the research.Â In this case, they knew there would be negative feedback. This suggests coordination between Regnerus, the funders and UT.â€
Since UT’s perfunctory conclusion of its Regnerus misconduct inquiry, much documentation of undisclosed conflicts of interest and conflicts of commitment involving Regnerus and his funders has come to light.
Here is a letter that I sent in that regard to UT Executive Vice President and Provost Dr. Steven W. Leslie.
December 7, 2012
Dr. Steven W. Leslie
Executive VP and Provost
The University of Texas at Austin
110 Inner Campus Dr. STOP G1000
Austin, TX 78712-1701
This is to inform you that the University of Texas at Austinâ€™s now demonstrated — and admitted — general lack of proper ethics oversight that extended to the behavior of its now former professor Charles Groat also very severely tainted your schoolâ€™s inquiry into scientific and academic misconduct allegations against Associate Professor Mark Regnerus in the matter of The New Family Structures Study (â€œNFSSâ€).
Specifically, UTâ€™s inquiry into Regnerus and the NFSS apparently failed to uncover, and certainly failed to acknowledge conflicts of interest as well as Regnerusâ€™s conflicts of commitment.
Herein, I shall outline the documented issues.
The NFSS was first organized in 2010 by Regnerusâ€™s chief funder, The Witherspoon Institute.
Witherspoonâ€™s 2010 IRS 990 forms call the NFSS a â€œmajor accomplishmentâ€ of Witherspoonâ€™s Program for Marriage, Family and Democracy.
In 2010, the Director of that Witherspoon program was W. Bradford Wilcox.
For the Witherspoon Institute, Wilcox recruited Regnerus to be head researcher on the NFSS.Â Witherspoon then gave Regnerus a planning grant. Still in his capacity as a Witherspoon Program Director, Wilcox then collaborated with Regnerus on NFSS study design.
Despite that, Regnerus in his June, 2012 NFSS article published in the Elsevier journal Social Science Research states that â€œthe funding sources played no role at all in the design or conduct of the study, the analyses, the interpretations of the data, or in the preparation of the manuscript.â€
That statement from Regnerus is plainly false. He repeated a similar untruth in his November, 2012 NFSS â€œAdditional Analyses,â€ also published in Social Science Research. In his November article, Regnerus phrases the false claim this way: â€œNo funding agency representatives were consulted about research design, survey contents, analyses, or conclusions.â€
Note that UTâ€™s documents of NFSS study disbursements show that UT did not start administering NFSS-related disbursements until 2011. That is to say, when, in 2010, Brad Wilcox â€“ as a Witherspoon Program Director â€“ recruited Regnerus for the NFSS for Witherspoon, and then collaborated with him on NFSS study design, Wilcox was acting as a titled Witherspoon representative, reporting and answerable to The Witherspoon Institute.
Formulating and/or changing a study design to produce a study result desired by a funding agency constitutes misconduct.
I shall return to that point shortly, but first I shall enumerate Wilcoxâ€™s additional undisclosed conflicts of interest in the matter of the NFSS; 1) Wilcoxâ€™s University of Virginia programs receive financial support from both of Regnerusâ€™s funders, The Witherspoon Institute and The Bradley Foundation; 2) Wilcox collaborated with Regnerus on NFSS data collection; 3) Wilcox collaborated with Regnerus on NFSS data analyses; 4) Wilcox collaborated with Regnerus on NFSS interpretation; 5) A preponderance of evidence shows that Wilcox was permitted to do peer review; 6) Wilcox is a long-time associate to Regnerus; 7) Wilcox is a long-time associate to Social Science Research editor-in-chief James Wright; 8) Wilcox is on the Social Science Research editorial board.
That Wilcox is on the Social Science Research editorial board â€“ and a long-time associate to Regnerus and to Wright â€“ is of particular significance to Regnerusâ€™s failure to disclose â€“ and indeed, his actually going beyond non-disclosure and telling untruths about â€“ Wilcoxâ€™s involvement in the NFSS.
Copies of Regnerusâ€™s â€œAdditional Analysesâ€ circulated prior to the print publication of the article. Concerned about the repeated failure to disclose that Wilcox as a Witherspoon Program Director had recruited Regnerus for the NFSS for Witherspoon, and that Wilcox — still as a Witherspoon Program Director — had then collaborated with Regnerus on NFSS study design, I e-mailed editor James Wright with all of the documentation of Wilcoxâ€™s involvement. I also left Wright voice mails explaining that I wanted to know if he would be disclosing Wrightâ€™s involvement in the NFSS.Â Wright ignored those communications, and re-published Regnerusâ€™s untruthful statement. I also sent Regnerus the same e-mails, but received no responses.
Regnerus thus is involved in blatant, outstanding violations of fundamental academic, and science publishing ethics involving non-disclosure of conflicts of interest.
Sociologist Eric Anderson, Ph.D. of the University of Winchester in the United Kingdom has described Regnerusâ€™s NFSS article as anti-gay propaganda, explaining that that is the only term he can think of to describe a study analysis and discussion that is designed to denigrate gay people outside the boundaries of empirical evidence.
The NFSS, in fact, was designed to be a weapon for Regnerusâ€™s funders to use against lesbian mothers and gay fathers in particular and against gay people generally. Interviewed for an October 26, 2012 article in Focus on the Familyâ€™s Citizen Link, Regnerus confessed that he does not know about the sexual orientation of his respondentsâ€™ parents. Regnerusâ€™s article nonetheless still refers to â€œlesbian mothersâ€ and to â€œgay fathers,â€ and Regnerus has personally and directly collaborated with his funders in promoting the NFSS in anti-gay-rights political contexts. For example, on November 3, Regnerus promoted the NFSS side-by-side with The Witherspoon Instituteâ€™s Ana Samuel at the â€œLove and Fidelity Networkâ€ 2012 annual conference. The â€œLove and Fidelity Networkâ€ is housed in the same building as The Witherspoon Institute; its board is peopled with Witherspoon and/or related National Organization for Marriage officials. It is a religious right-wing, anti-gay group whose mission includes training students from various schools to proselytize, as heterosupremacists who view homosexual persons as inherently defective and inferior.
Dr. Gary Gates of the Williams Institute â€“ who holds, among other degrees, a Master of Divinity degree from St. Vincent College â€“ says that Regnerus asked him to participate in the NFSS. Dr. Gates told Regnerus that he could not participate, as the NFSS study design was manifestly conceived to produce a result making gay parents look bad. Despite having heard that assessment of the study design from a recognized expert, Regnerus proceeded with the booby-trapped NFSS study design on which Brad Wilcox — as a Witherspoon Institute Program Director — had collaborated.
Dr. Leslie; towards a resolution of the Groat scandal, you used very inspiring language to express the University of Texas at Austinâ€™s commitment to research integrity. Lamentably, your schoolâ€™s commitment to research integrity remains in doubt for as long as UT does not fully investigate Regnerusâ€™s relationships with his funders, including his failure to disclose conflicts of interest and conflicts of commitment with them, and the resulting scientific and academic misconduct.
New York City-based novelist and freelance writerÂ Scott Roseâ€™s LGBT-interest by-line has appeared on Advocate.com, PoliticusUSA.com, The New York Blade, Queerty.com, Girlfriends and in numerous additional venues. Among his other interests are the arts, boating and yachting, wine and food, travel, poker and dogs. His â€œMr. David Cooperâ€™s Happy Suicideâ€ is about aÂ New York City advertising executive assigned to aÂ condom account.
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‘Chutzpah’: Biden Blasts Johnson ‘Taking Credit’ for $30 Million Project He Voted Against
Speaking in Pueblo, Colorado to promote his highly-successful “Bidenomics” fiscal program, President Joe Biden on Wednesday blasted Speaker of the House Mike Johnson for “taking credit” for a major federally-funded infrastructure project despite having voted against the legislation that made it happen.
“All across America,” the editorial board of the Las Vegas Sun wrote in August, “the success of Bidenomics is well beyond debate.” They also quoted former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, who “wrote in an essay last month, Bidenomics ‘is turning out to be the most successful set of economic policies the United States has witnessed in a half-century.'”
President Biden traveled to Colorado and spoke to voters in the district represented by U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO).
“The company that Biden visited, CS Wind, is on the home turf of Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, who has described the president’s climate policies as ‘a massive failure,'” The Associated Press reported.
“’Did you all know that you’re part of a massive failure?’ Biden said to the workers and local officials gathered for his speech as he touted hundreds of new jobs fueled by tax incentives for clean energy initiatives. ‘None of that sounds like a massive failure to me. How about you?'”
At one point, President Biden targeted Speaker Johnson and Florida Republican Vern Buchanan, one of the wealthiest members of Congress.
“The new Republican Speaker of the House, along with Republican Congressman Vern Buchanan just visited Sarasota, Florida yesterday to tour the construction of a new terminal at that airport. It’s going to create thousands of jobs over time. The project is funded with nearly $30 million from the bipartisan recession law. It’s going to generate more than $30 million for Florida, multiple times times over and guess what? Both the Speaker and the Congressman voted against the law. And spoke against the law. But now they’re down there taking credit for it being built.”
“As my mother would say, ‘God love ’em,'” the President continued. “As one of my friends back home would say, ‘that’s real chutzpah.'”
Watch the President below or at this link.
Biden: The new Republican Speaker with Vern Buchanan just visited Sarasota to tour the construction of a new terminal. Both of them voted against the law but now they’re down there taking credit for it.. pic.twitter.com/KS5fyVg5Xj
— Acyn (@Acyn) November 29, 2023
How Mike Johnson Spent the Day Protecting Mike Johnson
Republican Speaker of the House Mike Johnson made two major statements Wednesday at a press conference on his Biden impeachment inquiry, both of which serve to protect not the rule of law, the public’s faith in the credibility of Congress, or American democracy, but Mike Johnson.
Johnson, elected Speaker by every House Republican just five weeks ago, was widely described as a “back-bencher,” (a British term Americans have co-opted to refer to a low-profile or lower-level member of Congress,) yet he was anything but. While not well-known by the American people, Johnson had made his mark during the 2020 election, leading The New York Times recently to call him “a key architect of his party’s objections to certifying President Biden’s victory.”
“Mr. Johnson played a leading role in recruiting House Republicans to sign a legal brief supporting a lawsuit seeking to overturn the results” of the 2020 presidential election, The Times reported. “In December 2020, Mr. Johnson collected signatures for a legal brief in support of a Texas lawsuit, rooted in baseless claims of widespread election irregularities, that tried to throw out the results in four battleground states won by Joseph R. Biden Jr.”
In an opinion piece last month, The New York Times’ Jamelle Bouie declared, “Mike Johnson Is a Right-Wing Fever Dream Come to Life.”
In addition to Johnson’s far-right wing views on religion and social issues, Bouie pointed to the Speaker’s “tireless advocacy on behalf of Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election.”
He noted: “Johnson wrote one of the briefs purporting to give a legal justification for throwing out the voting results in several swing states. He advanced the conspiracy theory that Venezuela was somehow involved with the nation’s voting machines. On Jan. 6, 2021, he urged his Republican colleagues to block certification of the election on the grounds that state changes to voting in the face of the pandemic were illegitimate and unconstitutional. When questioned, during his first news conference as speaker, whether he stood by his effort to overturn the 2020 election, he ignored the question, and his fellow Republicans shouted down the reporter who asked it.”
Johnson “is, in short, an election-denying extremist who believes that his allies have the right to nullify election results so that they can impose their vision of government and society on an unwilling public.”
On Wednesday, Speaker Johnson falsely described both impeachments of Donald Trump as “meritless.”
It was an important statement for him to make, for Mike Johnson.
“I’m a lawyer. I’m a constitutional law attorney,” Speaker Johnson told reporters Wednesday, a statement he frequently uses to remind people of his status. “I served on President Trump’s impeachment defense team twice. And we lamented openly, we decried how the Democrats politicized that process, they were brazenly political, and how they brought those meritless impeachment charges against the president.”
Donald Trump was impeached the first time for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress after “Trump froze military assistance for Ukraine,” NPR reported in early 2020, “at the same time he sought investigations that he thought might help him in the 2020 campaign.”
The second time Trump was impeached, in January 0f 2021, was for “incitement of insurrection.” Speaker Johnson calling that meritless is in direct contradiction of a Colorado judge’s recent ruling that Trump did, in fact, “engage in insurrection.”
“This, what you’re seeing here, is exactly the opposite,” Johnson continued on Wednesday, referring to his committee chairmen’s impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden. It is an inquiry that Republicans have been forced to admit, even while on Fox News, they have no actual proof of any impeachable offense.
“We are the rule of law team,” Johnson continued. “The Republican Party stands for the rule of law. And the people in charge of this are doing this thoroughly, carefully. methodically. They’re investigating and gathering all the facts and to do this appropriately and to do it in a manner that upholds our constitutional responsibility. requires time, it requires a sound process. You don’t rush something like this. You can’t.”
Speaker Mike Johnson during a news conference dismisses both of Trump’s impeachments as “meritless” pic.twitter.com/twXn3ztSh2
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 29, 2023
It was critical for Johnson to mischaracterize and demean Democrats’ impeachments of Donald Trump, especially Trump’s second impeachment over his “incitement of insurrection.”
Remember, as The Times noted, Johnson was a “key architect” of Trump’s efforts to overturn the election. The insurrection was part of that effort.
Two weeks ago NCRM noted the stakes for Johnson “are simple: his three-vote majority is already razor-thin. Speaker Kevin McCarthy made clear Santos would be allowed to stay as long as possible. Will Johnson direct his leadership team to actively whip to expel Santos, knowing his majority will slip even further?”
Johnson answered that question on Wednesday. Despite having just called his House Republican caucus “the rule of law team,” Johnson effectively declared he opposes Republican efforts to expel U.S. Rep. George Santos (R-NY), who is facing 23 federal felony charges, and a damning Ethics Committee report.
Johnson’s tiny majority would become even smaller, should the House expel the embattled New York GOP lawmaker. And early next year it could shrink even more, given the announced upcoming resignation and exit of U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH), not to mention the other “House Republicans who may head for the exits.”
Dana Houle, a former chief of staff for a Democratic Congressman noted, “Ohio law is murky, but it’s possible [Bill Johnson’s] (overwhelmingly Republican) seat will remain open until November. It’s a reason why Santos won’t be expelled; if Santos’ & Johnson’s seats are vacant the GOP will have only a two seat majority.”
And that’s likely another reason why Speaker Johnson on Wednesday declared, “we’re going to allow people to vote their conscience” on the Santos expulsion vote, expected Thursday. “We’ve not whipped the vote and you wouldn’t I trust that people will make their decisions thoughtfully and in good faith. I personally have real reservations about doing this. I’m, I’m concerned about a precedent that may be set for that.”
Speaker Johnson says he has “real reservations” about expelling George Santos pic.twitter.com/JyaluKfVET
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 29, 2023
Watch the videos above or at this link.
Speaker Mike Johnson to Be Keynote Speaker at Hardline Christian Nationalist Lawmakers’ Gala
Last week, Christian nationalist religious-right activist and former Arkansas state Sen. Jason Rapert announced that House Speaker Mike Johnson will be the keynote speaker at the upcoming National Association of Christian Lawmakers gala that is being held at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC on Dec. 5.
The National Association of Christian Lawmakers, as its name suggests, is a far-right Christian nationalist organization founded by Rapert in 2019 that seeks to spread its far-right “biblical worldview” across the nation and “take authority” over every level of government.
Rapert, who last week was appointed to the state library board by Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, is a hardline anti-choice, anti-LGBTQ activist who has declared that no Christian can ever vote for a Democrat because Democrats have “been enlisted to further the antichrist cult in our country.”
Christian nationalist Jason Rapert attempts to topple the “LGBTQ cult” that has allegedly taken over the country: “Let go of our reins of government in this nation! You will not drag us into your pit!” pic.twitter.com/2F2UXrKzYC
— Right Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) September 25, 2023
Christian nationalist Jason Rapert is sick of all “the idiots in the country that want to make you think that a man’s gotta be able to go up and slobber all over another man and hug and kiss him and pretend like they’re married.” pic.twitter.com/pYRmZvy7eo
— Right Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) February 7, 2023
Former Arkansas state senator and founder of the National Association of Christian Lawmakers Jason Rapert declares that Christians “must take authority” over government: “Do you think that America is gonna be free with a bunch of drag queens running this place?” pic.twitter.com/cUp6pyr4XF
— Right Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) February 2, 2023
“This is what the NACL does every day all across this country,” Rapert bragged. “We are fighting against the people that are putting the queer books into your school libraries and trying to groom these children into homosexuality.” https://t.co/frIHtEAF05 pic.twitter.com/USWXPyFxiq
— Right Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) March 22, 2023
Christian nationalist Jason Rapert has high hopes for the 2024 presidential election: “My hope is that the people of this nation will reelect Jesus to be on the throne here again in our country.” pic.twitter.com/lCrNGFt8A0
— Right Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) May 5, 2023
When the National Association of Christian Lawmakers held a meeting earlier this year, participants used it as an opportunity to discuss plans to strip public libraries of their funding, convince states to designate June as “Christian History Month,” and defend the practice of imposing “the death penalty for sodomy.”
This article was originally published by Right Wing Watch and is reprinted here by permission.
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