Push-back for Cuccinelli
Finally, Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli is getting some push-back against his grandstanding legal fishing trips.
Del. David J. Toscano (D-Charlottesville) and Sen. A. Donald McEachin (D-Richmond) are seeking legislative limits on what the attorney general can do, with an eye toward Cuccinelli's publicity-grabbing hounding of Michael Mann, a former University of Virginia professor whose global warming views don't align with conservative orthodoxy.
Another bill from Sen. J. Chapman Petersen (D-Fairfax) would shield academic work from civil investigative demands that are intended to ferret out fraudulent work by state employees. Cuccinelli is seeking hundreds of e-mails through such CIDs as he tries to probe the work done by Mann, who otherwise has been cleared of any questions about the integrity of his state-funded research.
McEachin and Toscano want a judge to review such lawsuits before the attorney general can issue subpoenas.
The bills may get through the Senate but face certain death in the GOP-controlled House of Delegates.
There are a couple of ways to view these efforts. One is to applaud them, because politically-motivated prosecutors such as Cuccinelli badly need some kind of outside control. Without this, a whole lot more than just academic freedom could be threatened.
Yet care is also needed. There are cases in which the attorney general needs to be alert and aggressive in pursuing wrongdoing. Take the example of Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, whose office when he was attorney general in 2006 seemingly ignored evidence of one of the biggest scandals in the state in recent years involving a former state finance secretary who later got 10 years for self-dealing in funds from a state tobacco settlement.
At the end of the day, it really comes down to whom the public elects as attorney general and how that individual views his or her job, goals and integrity.
It could be that Cuccinelli really believes he's serving the public by hounding Mann and the University of Virginia. But he's also shamelessly promoting himself to the right-wing fringe, costing taxpayers unnecessary money and placing dark clouds over the reputations of Virginia universities as they try to do research.
Who's ultimately to blame for that? The Virginia voter.
| January 19, 2011; 3:30 PM ET
Categories: HotTopic, Local blog network, Va. Politics, Virginia, crime, education, energy, environment, public health, taxes, weather
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