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Posted at 1:00 PM ET, 07/ 6/2010

How much will Cuccinelli's legal forays cost?

By Peter Galuszka

After months of grabbing headlines for his aggressive legal actions, Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli and his staff have been spending a lot of time in court. One wonders how much all of this will cost taxpayers.

In Richmond last week, Cuccinelli's staff was in federal court defending his lawsuit over the health reform law spearheaded by President Obama claiming that the federal government has no right to force Virginians to buy health insurance.

Meanwhile, the University of Virginia has deployed its white shoe law firm, Hogan Lovells, to fight off Cuccinelli's civil investigative demands that he is using to probe possible fraud involving five research grants linked to Michael Mann, a former professor at U.Va. and a global warming specialist.

Cuccinelli spokesman Brian Gottstein says that filing the lawsuit against the feds cost $350 and that no lawyers in the office are being taken away from other work. He did not know how much the U.Va. action would cost. Carol Woods, a U.Va. spokesperson, did not return my phone calls.

Hogan Lovells is a high-priced law firm, formed recently by the merger of Washington's venerable Hogan & Hartson and London's Lovells. The new entity has 2,500 lawyers in 47 offices around the world. A Washington area lawyer told me that their rates could run from $500 to $1,500 an hour, depending on how many lawyers they put on the U.Va. case. It isn't clear if taxpayers will be stuck with U.Va.'s legal bill or how it will be paid.

Meanwhile, the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit advocacy group, claims that Cuccinelli's probe is flawed because he is misreading e-mails that surfaced last fall in a controversy at Britain's University of East Anglia, which collects global warming research for the United Nations. The science group says that some of the e-mail that Cuccinelli is using as evidence have nothing to do with Mann, who is now at Pennsylvania State University and who has been cleared by that school's look into the integrity of his research.

Peter Galuszka blogs at Bacon's Rebellion. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

By Peter Galuszka  | July 6, 2010; 1:00 PM ET
Categories:  HotTopic, Local blog network, Va. Politics, Virginia, economy, energy, environment, health care, public health, schools, taxes  
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Comments

do not let Kookinelli's facile B.S. fool you ... lawyers not being taken off of other work for his modern-day Scopes trial jihad?

B.S.!

Either those lawyers working on this case and other parts of his fundamentalist jihad are being taken away from other work that the people of Va. could really stand to have done (unlike this waste of money), or there are too many lawyers in the Va. AG's office and Kookinelli should be reducing staff to help with budget issues.

It's laughable to envision lawyers just sitting around the AG's office with nothing to do (no other state/AG business) waiting for something to do 'til AG Kookinelli gets a brainstorm and decides to put them to work on his theocratic garbage campaign.

Posted by: fendertweed | July 6, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

The savings potential for stopping Obamacare from destroying healthcare and for forcing scientists to be objective and truthful is multiple orders of magnitude greater than any costs to challenge now. If this chills scientific study, then scientific study needs chilling. A good investment.

Posted by: BruceFairfax | July 7, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Well Brucie in FFX, I suggest that you send Kookinelli all your money as I don't want to see him wasting mine.

Posted by: missingwisc | July 7, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

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