Three weeks after the Everglades Foundation touted a controversial economic study by “Clemson University,” a spokesman for the school’s Office of Research Communications says he isn’t familiar with the project, nor did Clemson have anything to do with the content, which was completed independently of the school. The Everglades Foundation prominently featured “Clemson University” in its press release and on the Foundation’s web page about the report.

“Just from a cursory look, it seems like the Everglades Foundation would know more than we do,” said Clinton Colmenares, a spokesman for the school. “The contract was between the researcher and the foundation, so we do not know details.”

Clemson’s statement comes after critics pointed out that the report’s author, Michael T. Maloney, who also sometimes goes by “ML Maloney,” is well-known in academic circles as an opinion-for-hire professor. According to SourceWatch, he was involved in a controversial scheme called the “Cash for Comments” network that paid professors to submit opinion papers under their own name that had been previously outlined by special interest groups.

The report was released by the Everglades Foundation to build support for Senate Bill 10, backed by Senate President Joe Negron, which would spend billions in state tax dollars to buy land south of Lake Okeechobee. But the report immediately drew fire from Glades residents and farmers that would be impacted by the loss of agricultural lands.

Ardis Hammock, owner and operator of Frierson Farms Inc. in Moore Haven, took direct aim at the report in a written statement:

“It’s only fitting that a group funded almost entirely by out-of-state billionaire special interests has hired an out of state economist to come to the same discredited conclusion being pushed by the Everglades Foundation and its dishonest affiliates. This study relies on ‘fake science’ and ‘fake economics’ to make a case that neither real scientists nor economists actually believe.”

Other outlets, including the Sunshine State News, previously exposed Maloney’s opinion-for-hire research, but that was before Clemson contradicted the Everglades Foundation’s claim that the study was backed by the university.

In the report itself, written by Maloney and released by the Everglades Foundation, Clemson University is mentioned on the cover and four times on the second page:

© 2017. This study has been funded by the Congressional Office of (retired) Representative Curt Clawson and by the Everglades Foundation, but the Clemson University investigators are solely responsible for the content of the report. Thomas is Visiting Assistant Professor, De Los Santos is Assistant Professor, Sauer and Parker are Masters Students all in the Department of Economics, Clemson University. Hobbs (BS Clemson) is an industrial engineer at Perkins + Will in Atlanta. This project is the outgrowth of work done previously by researchers at and associated with Clemson University.

The Everglades Foundation’s press release about the study touts Clemson in the headline and first paragraph, and doesn’t mention Maloney until the second paragraph, where it says he is “professor emeritus of Clemson University.”

Clemson Study

Screen shot of Everglades Foundation media release touting “Clemson University Study”

“It’s disappointing, but not surprising, that the Everglades Foundation would go to these lengths to push misinformation to sell this economically disastrous plan,” said Hammock. “The facts speak for themselves: Senate Bill 10 is a job killer that spends too much, relies on fraudulent science, and gets very little in return.”