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Cuccinelli says he is not "targeting scientific conclusions" in U-Va. demand

Rosalind Helderman

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) told Jay Warren, a reporter with the Roanoke television station WSLS, that he is not "targeting scientific conclusions" with his civil information demand to the University of Virginia, asking for documents from a global warming scientist on the faculty until 2005.

In an interview Wednesday, Cuccinelli expanded on remarks he made to us earlier this week, in which he said he was conducting an "open inquiry" into whether scientist Michael Mann had defrauded taxpayers when he sought public grants for his work.

You can watch the interview below and read a transcript of the relevent portion after the jump.

Warren writes that Cuccinelli would only participate in the interview if Warren agreed not to ask about the attorney general's use of a new, more modest, state seal on pins used by his office staffers. After criticism, Cuccinelli has since ditched the pins.

The same request was made of the Washington Post before an interview earlier this week, but we declined and the interview proceeded as scheduled. Asked about the pin, Cuccinelli told us, "You were told I wouldn't answer it, but I can give you this," and then handed over a copy of the statement his office had released on the issue that same day.

We tried a follow-up--about whether the pin had been inspired by a flag used by a Conferate army unit. He responded, "I told you I wasn't going to answer. The subject of that is just so a waste of time, giving any breath or time to it. It's a trinket."

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Here's an excerpt from Cuccinelli's interview with Warren:

CUCCINELLI: "We have an obligation under the Fraud Against Taxpayers Act to police the use of state money. There's a half million dollars that went into some of these grants and the publicly available information at least leads us to say or ask if these grants were used for what they were requested for."
WARREN: "What gives your office the authority to interpret what is scientific data?"
CUCCINELLI: "That's a worthwhile question. We aren't targeting scientific conclusions. That's not the issue. It's the expenditure of taxpayer dollars."
WARREN: "Do you believe that manmade gases are actually warming the climate?"
CUCCINELLI: "I think the jury is still out." He went on to say, "I don't think the evidence at this moment as it's been presented would lead one to man-caused conclusion in that respect."
WARREN: "If you don't believe manmade gases are warming the earth, how can we trust what your office finds? In other words, politics could be at play here?"
CUCCINELLI: "There are some people who will never believe anything we do. But, for people who know me, I'm capable of being extremely objective."

By Rosalind Helderman  |  May 6, 2010; 10:26 AM ET
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli , Rosalind Helderman  | Tags: Climate Change Skeptics, Climate change, Environment, Ken Cuccinelli, University of Virginia  
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Hey Ken,
Your home state of NJ called...the residents want their court jester back. I'll help you pack.

Posted by: formerdcer1 | May 6, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Good job electing this idiot, guys.

Ken, go back to wherever you came from, you are a joke and whatever political ambitions you're trying to further through your current job are pretty much shot by now. Praise Him!

Posted by: mike8 | May 6, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

if they are not investigating scientific conclusions, why not simply requesting accounting documents and statements?
they have no need for the scientific documents unless that is what they are investigating.
Cuccinelli is a liar.

Posted by: MarilynManson | May 6, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Kook-in-elli is supposed be enforcing the law- What does he know about science, other than what Pat Robertson and Jerry Fawell preach about...Can't wait till this moron is out of office!

Posted by: lsf07 | May 6, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, yeah.

Threat of getting a speeding ticket has a chilling effect on my desire to drive 80 in a 45 zone.

Fraud is a legal thing, not a scientific thing. If a given topic is highly political, then the imperative to scrutinize the use of public funds increases.

We don't want, for example, Evangelical Christians proselyzing with government resources. And likewise we can't have political scientists misusing government funds allocated for scientific activities.

No one is challenging the university's right to provide lifetime job security and benefits to a professor regardless of any alleged or actual criminal conduct.

Posted by: blasmaic | May 6, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

I think Kookinelli's head must have been globally warmed when he was an infant or something. Where do people like him come from?

Posted by: transtique1 | May 6, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Cuccinelli is a member and proud spokesman for The Tea Party which is funded by Oil and Coal interests. He is abusing his office and Taxpayer resources to pursue the Oil and Coal Tea Party agenda.

The primary funding sources for the Tea Party are two conservative groups: Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks which receive substantial funding from David Koch of Koch Industries, the largest privately-held energy company in the country, and the conservative Koch Family Foundations. Koch industries are responsible for hundreds of Oil spills spread over multiple states.

Why isn’t the Tea Party organizing and demonstrating against Industries causing the Deaths and Lost Livelihoods of Millions of Americans? Why aren't they protesting Lack of Regulation against Wall Street, Oil and Coal companies that are Killing People and caused the Financial Devastation of Millions of Americans? Why aren't they protesting against BP and Halliburton's Gross Negligence in the destruction of Multi-Billion dollar Tourism and Commercial Fishing Industries in the Gulf Coast Oil disaster?

Because the Companies Responsible is who Started, Fund and Direct Tea Party actions. The Tea Party has a Clear Allegiance: The Rich, Oil and Coal and Kookanelli is firmly in their pocket.

Posted by: liveride | May 6, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

The most interesting part of the interview for me was the reason given for the inquiry, that they believed, based on public statements, that some of the reasons given in the grant applications were not what the money was used for. The scope of this inquiry, with dozens of people indirectly involved, suggests that is not the only thing they are looking at. It's interesting that he omits fraud in the conclusions of the studies as an area of investigation. Also, under the FATA, it appears you have only three years after you knew or reasonably should have known of the fraud to take action. Since Mann left UVa in 2005, it's already too late, IF YOU ARE ONLY LOOKING INTO THE ISSUE OF GIVING FALSE REASONS IN YOUR GRANT APPLICATION, because state officials knew, or could have reasonably known, a grant was not being used for the purpose stated long before three years ago.

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

Folks: There is a difference between political science and science. One involves opinions and viewpoints. The other is objective, repeatable, stands up to scrutiny, has well established means to gather, analyze, use & publish data; it welcomes review, welcomes scrutiny, proves theories and more; there are no opinions in genuine science. Take a look to see where you arguments lie... in opinion or in science?

Posted by: BruceFairfax | May 8, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

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