Clemson University Distances Itself from Everglades Foundation Study

by | Mar 22, 2017

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.”




  1. Daniel Ryan

    Wow!!! lets just leave out that Michael T. Maloney, is the Principal Investigator & Emeritus Professor of Economics at Clemson University. The investigators were Charles J. Thomas, Babur De Los Santos, Amanda J. Hobbs, Kathryn Sauer, and John Parker. This information was never hidden at any point and was part of the report on the first page. You are trying to create doubt and suspicion where there is none.

    Lets also not forget that the Big Sugar study came from the JMI institute.
    Which is not a school of any kind. Its a Right Wing Advocacy Group. You
    pay them for results that you want.

    JMI has deep ties to the Koch brothers. The organization received $1,340,242 from DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund between 2005 and 2014. JMI also received $286,384 between 2007 and 2014 from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation.

    As of August 2016, JMI is listed as a “partner organization” in the Charles Koch Institute’s Liberty@Work program.

    • BrianJBurgess

      Dan – My story does mention that MT Maloney is a Clemson professor. Further, I included the exact quote you did from page 2 of the study.

      But if you visit the Everglades Foundation website, you’ll see they don’t mention Maloney at all in the headline – it literally says the study is a “Clemson University study.” Such a claim gives added weight because, if true, it means Clemson is throwing the weight of its academic reputation behind the credibility of the study.

      But the fact is, it’s NOT a “Clemson” study, as evidenced by the university saying so.

      The Everglades Foundation misrepresented the impact and importance of the study by trying to throw the full weight of Clemson University behind the report, when in fact it was written by a pay-to-play professor with a history of similar dealings.

      • ashisbaby

        If a staff member conducts the investigation and grad students take part for credit then yes, it is a Clemson study. It’s just prepared for The Everglades Foundation. Furthermore, there’s no details on the bad science. This project has been researched for several years by several reputable organizations. It was a major push behind Florida Forever and the distribution of water that has been contaminated by eutrophication must be properly filtered. The proposed land is only a fraction of the original filtration system so I don’t know where the bad science is coming from. It seems Clemson is trying to play the politics in distancing themselves from a noble project. I also find is suspect that there is no hyperlink to the study in your article but The Everglades Foundation has it clearly posted.

        • BrianJBurgess

          Only one problem with your comment: Clemson says it’s NOT a Clemson study.

    • floridanativee

      Sourcewatch itself has a long history of fruad, These out of state billionaires also hire community organizers to whip up support with their half truths.

  2. Independenceday

    The problem is the massive dumping and the answer is to return the level to the swamp it was. Anything else is decades and billions wasted with ridiculous “fixes”.

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