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UPDATED: Climate scientist says Cuccinelli subpoena attempt an 'abuse of office'

Rosalind Helderman

Penn State and former University of Virginia climate science professor Michael Mann says Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is trying to "smear" him and his science with a civil subpoena to U-Va. requesting information about his research at the university where he worked until 2005.

Mann says he has received no inquiries from the attorney general's office, but the University of Virginia has confirmed that it received a Civil Investigative Demand, essentially a subpoena, requesting information about Mann.

Carol Wood, a spokeswoman for the university, said in a statement that the university has "a legal obligation to answer this request and it is our intention to respond to the extent required by law." She said the scope of the information requested by the attorney general means it will take the university some time to comply.

It's unclear what Cuccinelli (R) is up to. He has a pending lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency's regulation of greenhouse gases and it's possible he is looking for evidence as part of the suit. It is also possible he's looking at separate action against Mann, who is best known as the author of the so-called "hockey stick" graph charting climate change and whose work has been the subject of repeated investigations and criticisms from conservative groups.

Brian Gottstein, a spokesman for Cuccinelli, said the office would "neither confirm nor deny the existence or nonexistence of any pending case or investigation," suggesting the request may, in fact, be an investigation into Mann's work separate from the EPA case.

Mann insisted his work has been repeatedly investigated and his methods and conclusions exonerated numerous times. He said the previous attacks against his work have elicited charges of McCarthyism from various sources and put Cuccinelli's request in the same category.

"I do know that a number of individuals have expressed outrage that the attorney general of the state would engage in what seems to be a transparent witch hunt against science," Mann said in an interview. "I would hope that he would reconsider these abusive demands that he's made."

A Penn State investigation into Mann's work cleared him of scientific wrongdoing in February. So too did a National Academies of Science report, said Tim Donaghy, a scientific integrity analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists.

"From our perspective, he's beating the deadest of dead horses," Donaghy said of Cuccinelli.

Donaghy said that though Mann has been called to defend his science before Congress and other bodies, he is not aware of a previous attorney general -- with legal authority -- investigating his work.

"It would be a disturbing precedent," he said.

UPDATE: You can read the whole civil investigative demand here. From this document, it seems clear Cuccinelli is pursuing action against Mann separate from his lawsuit against the EPA, suggesting that Mann essentially defrauded taxpayers when he accepted UVa. grants for his work.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  May 3, 2010; 10:20 AM ET
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli , Rosalind Helderman  
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Whatever the Kooch is up to it will either be a personal vendetta or some stupid political item. Of course, no matter what, it will cost the taxpayers of the Commonwealth.

Posted by: mortified469 | May 3, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

He is such an embarrassment.

Posted by: cbr1 | May 3, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Cuccinelli couldn't tell a lightening rod from a fishing rod, doesn't a thing about scientific method. He's right-wing science-ignorant thug.

Posted by: jckdoors | May 3, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Cooch should be in jail. Dope is illegal in Virginia.

Posted by: MAL9000 | May 3, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

If Mann's "methodologies" hold up, what's he worried about.. or will his "hockey stick" graph turn out to based on left wing B$.. I'm enjoying the libtard agitation.. my vote is paying off for that reason alone.. go Ken!

Posted by: genbarlow | May 3, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

If Mann's "methodologies" hold up, what's he worried about.. or will his "hockey stick" graph turn out to based on left wing B$.. I'm enjoying the libtard agitation.. my vote is paying off for that reason alone.. go Ken!

Posted by: genbarlow | May 3, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

LOL. Can't trust in proven scientific fact but you can trust in a fairy tale book and base every moral and political decision you'll ever make on said book.

Posted by: Bigfoot_has_a_posse | May 3, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

If Mann's "methodologies" hold up, what's he worried about.. or will his "hockey stick" graph turn out to based on left wing B$.. I'm enjoying the libtard agitation.. my vote is paying off for that reason alone.. go Ken!

Posted by: genbarlow | May 3, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

LOL. Can't trust in proven scientific fact but you can trust in a fairy tale book and base every moral and political decision you'll ever make on said book.

Posted by: Bigfoot_has_a_posse | May 3, 2010 12:56 PM
Climate science isn't proven scientific fact.

This is clearly evident by AGW supporters claiming "consensus," not allowing other people to debate or check their work and using non-scientific arguments when challenges come up.

Pretty much EVERY major AGW alarmist catastrophe has been show to be based off bad science including:

- Glaciers
- Crop yields in Africa
- Rain forest deforestation
- Sea level rises

Sounds like you are a blind believer in AGW and just close your eyes.

Posted by: Cryos | May 3, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

With all the actual crime occurring in VA, Cucinelli is wasting taxpayer money on this? By diverting resources away from actual crime, he is going out of his way to make our state less safe. I'm sure every criminal in the state is applauding these efforts right now -- less manpower coming after them!

Posted by: VirginiaDad | May 3, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

More KOOK-IN-NELLI dribble...guess there are no real crimes to solve in the entire state of VA! Go ahead Kook!- we'll be there to vote you out ASAP! Hope the professor sues you for harrasement!!

Posted by: lsf07 | May 3, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

"Mann essentially defrauded taxpayers when he accepted UVa. grants for his work."
This statement should be at the beginning of this article.

Posted by: HughJassPhD | May 3, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Michael Mann has been investigated again and again by people who know something about science. They have not found any evidence of wrong-doing. Some of the people investigating him have disagreed with his results on scientific grounds.

Some people bitterly critical of Michael Mann's work are now condemning this investigation by Cuccinelli.

Posted by: Dadmeister | May 3, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Scientist > Republican (or Democrat)

The only valid criticism of a scientist's work is that of their scientific peers. As good as it gets, ever has been or ever will be - that's all. End of story.


Posted by: Summermute | May 3, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Outrageous! It's outrageous that the Chavez government is trying to silence anyone it disagrees with by spurious legal investigations---oh wait. This is a Republican. Well, then it must be OK.

Tea Party/GOP Slogan:

Posted by: Froomkin_fan | May 3, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

We currently use 25% of the world’s Oil while we have only 3% of it. No amount of domestic drilling will adjust that number even a percentage point or have any effect on the price of Oil on world markets. What will have the greatest effect is Using a lot Less of it. Transportation Efficiency can reduce that by several points, domestically produced Biofuels reduce it several more points. Developing Freight Rail (such as along the I-81 corridor) reduces it a few more points. Here is where we get the greatest Bang-for-the-Buck and Job Creation without sacrificing other Multi-Billion dollar industries and White Sand beaches.

Drilling for a few million in royalties while putting our multi-billion dollar industries at risk is not what we need. We need to invest in creating Millions of Jobs from Renewable energy technologies. Virginia has enviable resources for Offshore Wind, Distributed Solar and Biomass Combined Heat and Power facilities. These take intelligence and work beyond trying to find free gold in the Sea. Nothing is free without hard work and Investment.

Right now, Alabama Senator Shelby and other GOP leaders are stalling Energy Legislation that will fund our Domestic Renewable Energy Development and Free us from Oil and Coal Dependence. Call, Write, and Visit them now and tell them to stop stalling. We need important JOBS and Energy Independence Legislation we need NOW.§iontree=3,50

Posted by: liveride | May 3, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

The people of the Commonwealth elected Cuccinelli knowing full well how he would abuse his office. They're the same people who complain about being overtaxed. Hope they feel they're getting their money's worth.

Posted by: dmbethesda | May 3, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

"… seperate …" Can't anyone spell anymore? I thought the Post would at least have a spell checker that would catch that one!

Posted by: rgratz | May 3, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Any scientist who's been publicly identified as possibly complicit
In a scheme to bamboozle the public re: climate change
Shouldn't be surprised if he's a subject of interest to prosecutors--
Expecting anything else would be exceedingly strange.

If what he engaged in turns out to have been propaganda,
Perhaps he'll get no more grants from the National Science Foundation;
Also, perhaps any government agency making similar grants
Will about future grants to him have grave reservation.

Posted by: Gonzage1 | May 3, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Wow, that correction was fast!

Posted by: rgratz | May 3, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

All you have to do is read the newspaper to see that kookanelli is on a right wing mission. Glad to see VA has people in the highest levels of government, who rather than doing their jobs for all virginians represent only those on the far right. Very nice. That's one of the common traits of "conservatives." They can't separate their personal lives from doing the job they were elected or hired to do. freakin partisan freak. Hope it blows up in his face. This guy is an extreme radical. Can't believe even VA would tolerate this kind of extremism.

Posted by: red2million | May 3, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

I have no doubt that it would end up costing the State of Virginia more money to attempt to recover whatever was paid to Mann than what was paid to Mann in the first place. This is a frivolous waste of time and resources.

Posted by: sonny2 | May 3, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Why is anyone surprised? Did anyone doubt Cuccinelli would use his office for anything but his own agenda? All you people who voted for him - do you feel safer as he fritters away state funds for his own interests rather than your protection? Who will subpoena over that?

Posted by: motcollins | May 3, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

A Penn State investigation into Mann's work cleared him of scientific wrongdoing in February. So too did a National Academies of Science investigation.

So Mr Cuccinelli has decided that UVA has a higher standard than the National Academies of Science. What will Mr Cuccinelli investigate next. The 'accepted' concept that he earth is round? Maybe the burning question as to wheather President Obama is an American citizen. The President reportedly maked his Census as being Black. But do we really know?

Posted by: Jimof1913 | May 3, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

At the rate Ken is going, someone could publish one of those joke-of-the-day calendars next year focusing solely on what he's done in office. Thanks to this latest misuse of state resources, his last absurdity - covering up the oh-so-obscene hint of a bare breast on the Commonwealth's seal - is already yesterday's news.

Another three years and 9 months of this guy as our chief law enforcer; God grant us the strength to endure it.

Posted by: postnobills | May 3, 2010 6:32 PM | Report abuse

It has become painfully obvious that the "leadership" of the Virginia republican crime syndicate has lost touch with reality. It is time they enter treatment. Maybe we can get an intervention from Oprah or Dr. Whosit to help them before they go total Limbaugh on us and start babbling about the left...wing...conspir...

Never mind.

Posted by: BigTrees | May 3, 2010 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Talk is cheap son, provide the documents..

Posted by: wewintheylose | May 3, 2010 8:09 PM | Report abuse

Mann is the one who is a joke. He has been exposed for what he is, a manipulator of data, and a fraud. I appreciate the AG's efforts on our behalf. I do not want Virginia to just bend over and take anything that the EPA unilaterally decides to dish out. Our economy is at stake, and frauds like Mann need to be held responsible.

Posted by: LoriCarlson | May 3, 2010 9:35 PM | Report abuse

I'm concerned that the AG seems to go after VA's public colleges when they don't support his political beliefs. UVA is one of the top public universities in the nation. It fosters a diverse faculty whose research, even if controversial, contributes greatly to the quality of education that students receive by teaching them to think critically and analytically. Work done at a university should be thought provoking and encourage debate. If Mann is wrong, he's in an arena that can take him on without needing legal action. The AG shouldn't be trying to silence the scientist, he should be ensuring that those with conflicting research can participate in the debate. This will push valuable faculty, controversial or not, away from va's public universities.

Posted by: seb87 | May 3, 2010 11:47 PM | Report abuse

The Virginia government is a joke. Every day there's another ridiculous waste of time and money promoting their right-wing bigotry. Attacking higher education and scientific research is a great way to encourage learning and improve Virginia's schools. The best professors and scientists sure aren't welcome here. Any day, the governor will be substituting the evangelistic curriculum of Pat Robertson at our public colleges.

Posted by: hockeymom1 | May 4, 2010 7:59 AM | Report abuse

I'm not sure how Cuccinelli’s subpoena is going to be constructive in any way because:

1) Mann's research has been supported by research done by other scientists (e.g., Huang 2000:, Smith 2006:, Wahl 2007: and

2) Penn State, the National Academies of Science, and U.S. Congress have already investigated Mann and his research and found nothing fraudulent.

I’m all for investigations into scientific fraud that are done in good faith, but this seems more political (and at worst, a waste of taxpayer money) than anything else.

Posted by: dauyeung | May 4, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

I'm calling my State senator to demand a recall of Cuccinelli. This man is out of control and the state can no longer afford his embarrassing stunts.

Posted by: kashe | May 4, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

The Kook's boss needs to read him his job description. I doubt embarassing Virginia and wasting our money is on it. And all you global warming doubters, you're entitled to an opinion but what if you're wrong ? The vast majority of intelligent scientists think you are. The Kook's opinion should not entitle him to waste our money.

Posted by: Falmouth1 | May 4, 2010 7:05 PM | Report abuse

According to all the reports I've seen, Professor Mann left UVA in 2005. Five years back. Isn't there some statute of limitations on this? I wish the news reports had told us how long it is. If it's been after the statute of limitations, then we would know beyond doubt that the motivation is not legitimate law enforcement. Also, I read, for what it's worth that the fraud law being used is younger than 2005, which would mean ex post facto would apply to any criminal charge, and again the motivation is not legitimate law enforcement. Wish these questions were being answered in press reports.

Posted by: boatbrain | May 6, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

After doing some more research, I found out the law goes back to 2002, and so does apply to part of the time Mann was at UVA BUT, if you read the law, it does not appear to apply to what Mann was doing in apply for grants, it seems to be intended to deal with cases of false billing, not the same as asking for a grant. I suggest everyone call the Deputy AG involved in this at 804 786 6731 to tell him what he is doing is wrong.

Posted by: boatbrain | May 6, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

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