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U-Va. "exploring options" on Cuccinelli climate change subpoena

Rosalind Helderman

The University of Virginia is "exploring options" in responding to the civil investigative demand issued by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) to the University of Virginia, seeking documents related to the work of climate scientist and former university professor Michael Mann, a university spokeswoman said this morning.

Late last week, spokeswoman Carol Wood had said the school planned to comply with Cuccinelli's demand. But various academic groups have been pressuring the University of Virginia to resist the subpoena. Cuccinelli has said he is investigation whether Mann defrauded taxpayers as he sought grants for his work.

"Right now, our intention is to comply but we are looking at some options," Wood said this morning. She said she does not know whether the Board of Visitors has plans to discuss the issue.

According to the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers act, the law under which Cuccinelli issued the subpoena, entities that receive a civil investigative demand can petition a judge to have them set aside but they must file in court within 21 days of receiving the subpoena. Cuccinelli's CID to the university was dated April 23, meaning the school has until Friday if it wishes to go to court.

Meanwhile, State Sen. Don McEachin (D) says he will introduce legislation next year that would prevent Virginia's attorney general from issuing subpoenas unless he has filed a lawsuit in court.

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In a statement, McEachin says his goal would be to prevent the state's top lawyer from filing subpoenas in cases where a judge does not have the ability to dismiss the underlying suit that prompted the subpoena as frivolous.

"If he can go after Professor Mann, then no Virginian is safe from the oppressive reach of the Attorney General's strong arm and the invasive powers of his office," McEachin said in a statement, adding, "Professor Mann is this week's victim; we don't know who next week's or next month's will be."

Under current law, the Attorney General can issue a civil investigative demand when he believes one of several Virginia statutes has been broken. Besides the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act, the attorney general can issue CIDs under various consumer protection statutes. Stripping him of the power to issue such subpoenas until a lawsuit has been filed would be a significant new restraint on the power of the state's top lawyer to pursue and investigate cases of corporate or governmental malfeasance.

We've asked Cuccinelli's office for a response to McEachin's proposal and will bring it to you when it arrives.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  May 10, 2010; 10:17 AM ET
Categories:  General Assembly 2010 , Ken Cuccinelli , Rosalind Helderman , State Senate  | Tags: Ken Cuccinelli, Michael Mann, University of Virginia, Virginia  
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good for McEachin, but waiting til next year makes it seems too long. Hopefully someone will find a way to get rid of Cuccinelli way before that.

Posted by: MarilynManson | May 10, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Cuccinelli would have a pretty successful private practice in Salem, Massachusetts circa 1692.

Posted by: millionea81 | May 10, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

millionea81 FTW!

You gotta admit though, this guy's got abusing the legal system for Conservative demagoguing down to an art form.

Posted by: KBfromNC | May 10, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

I am so glad the AG is using my taxes wisely. Going after a professor who no longer works in the commonwealth about how he got grants. Then the state university has to defend itself with tax dollars. Gotta love it.

Posted by: JDD1 | May 10, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

McEachin's "sue first; ask questions later" statute is perhaps one of the silliest things I've even heard reported about him, and I understand that he also supports BarryCare. The notion that Virginia's AG should have to sue before he investigates is utter nonsense.

Posted by: wjy123 | May 10, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Some of you people amaze me. I suppose in your perfect world the AG would sit in his office practicing his origami skills, after all, there's plenty of useless pages in the Code of Virginia.

Where were you when Patrick Michaels, a Research Professor in Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia, and president of the American Association of State Climatologists, was forced out at UVa by the Kaine administration?

Where were you when the Great Seal was first altered for use as gifts for friends and political allies? The first to so? He was Governor in 1780 when he commissioned a medal with a covered-boob version of the seal for Gen Joseph Martin to give to Cherokee allies. You may have heard of him. Tall red-headed kid from Charlottesville. Guy named Jefferson.

BTW, the seal has undergone many changes over the years. The one you’re probably most familiar with was designed in 1930 and is actually the work of New York sculptor Charles Keck. George Wythe's version showed Virtus with her foot on a globe. I don't know if she was an exhibitionist then or not, but Jefferson's may have been the first to replace the globe with a tyrant.

Oh, yeah. One more question. Did the Attorney General tell state agencies they must immediately fire all gay employees? Or did he simply tell them they cannot use sexual orientation as a reason NOT to fire them?

Posted by: altonfoley | May 10, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

McEachin is just getting some free publicity, he knows he hasn't got the votes to change a law that was just passed with wide public support.

The University of Virginia isn't going to stick its neck out for Mann with more than a basic appeal that they'll probably lose, look for it to be filed Friday at 5pm. Mann doesn't work for them anymore, so they won't work to hard to protect him.

McEachin is right about one thing, the Attorney General can go after anyone he wants. What McEachin seems to imply is that some or maybe all scientist should be immune to VA law.

Posted by: ecocampaigner | May 10, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

does kookoonelly have a fishing license issued by the commonwealth? if not he should be fined for going on a fishing expedition without a license.

Posted by: surlydoc | May 10, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

altonfoley, pass me whatever you are smoking! Cuccinelli is not investigating fraud. he has not asked for any financial records from UVA pertaining to grants or how they were spent. he isn't asking for banking records. he isnt asking for tax returns. he isn't asking for accounts payable or general ledger or bank reqs.

He is asking for scientific data that he and his office is unqualified to review or understand.
He is abusing his power to aquire documents that have nothing to do with any possible taxpayer fraud case.
My guess is this data and these documents will now somehow be forced to be public, and right-wing thinktanks funded by the oil industry will fudge the stolen data to support their bogus non-polluting claims.

Stealing the data is just act one of Cuccinelli's oil company sponsored agenda.

there will never be any financial fraud case. thats just the ruse to get the data.

Posted by: MarilynManson | May 10, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Which century is Cuccinelli living in? Take some courses in scientific method before you try to read scientific papers.

Posted by: jckdoors | May 10, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Requiring a lawsuit be filed before you can investigate is extreme, but it's Cuccinelli's fault this is being done, because he's the one who abused the law to start with. Leaving aside the merits of man made global warming, and even for that matter the honestly of Professor Mann, which seems to have been supported by prestigious science organizations, what AG, actually concerned about fraud on the taxpayers, would investigate a relatively small expenditures, (only one of the five grants Cuccinelli is looking into was paid for by Virgina) five years after the fact? What else do you need to know, to tell you this is politically motivated?

Posted by: boatbrain | May 10, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Uh, yeah, altonfoley. We get your post. And we still think Kookanelli is a nut. You've missed the point, big time.

Posted by: ghokee | May 10, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

No, this obtuse, partisan name calling is missing the point. That, the play-on-words name changing, and refusing to face facts do nothing to add to your side of the debate.

Actually, AG Cuccinelli is doing just what the state constitution and the GA have decreed. Someone please show me where he is working outside the bounds of his office.

Then, if you're able to rub two brain cells together, answer the three very simple questions I asked. Or show that they are wrong. I'll be happy with either outcome.

Posted by: altonfoley | May 10, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

KOO-KOO-NELI...wasting tax dollars again!!!Guese there is no crime to fight in 'ole VA!!

Posted by: lsf07 | May 10, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Isf07. You've just set your side back 50 yards.

Posted by: altonfoley | May 10, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

I blame the Democrats for this Yo Yo. I had to HUNT for information about the Democratic Candidate for A.G. because I just couldn't stand Cooch. I can't recall who he/she was (even though I voted for him/her) but if you thought Coakley ran a horrible campaign in MA, Cooch's opponent might as well have been DEAD.

Tim Kaine should be FIRED as the DNC Chair. He's nothing like Mark Warner. He road Mark's coattails, took credit for things he didn't do, screwed up every piece of legislation he touched, and was just another partisan hack.

So we got stuck with Cooch because of Kaine's incompetence. Thanks Tim!

Posted by: mwcob | May 10, 2010 8:45 PM | Report abuse

altonfoley - the man is editing the State Seal because of a cartoon booby. This is not a good thing. If it were one subpoena of one professor - nobody would be worried.

Posted by: mwcob | May 10, 2010 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Yes, applaud Cuccinelli. Why do you want any good scientists to work in VA? The rest of the states will be glad to take good ones, with their Federal research grants. Then, VA can quit doing state science grants as well, which will save money.

And U VA, well, why would one want to support a school founded by Thomas Jefferson, a pretty good scientists for his day?

Some of Cuccinell's donors, like Dominion, Massey Coal, other coal folks, and Koch Industries would be pleased to eliminate real climate (& environmental) scientists from VA.

drill down under Energy, Natural Resources.

Posted by: JohnMashey | May 11, 2010 2:51 AM | Report abuse

mwcob; I suppose Jefferson altered the seal for purely artistic reasons, right? He thought,"That damn George Wythe, he wouldn't know art if it smacked him upside the head".

A look at Jefferson's version and at Cuccinelli's show very little difference. (Essentially, King George is lying in a different direction.) The only real complaint about the seal I can see is that you didn't vote for Cuccinelli.

Hello. You didn't vote for Jefferson either.

Welcome to life 101. If you're going to criticize one, you gotta treat the other equally. (Let me guess, you're an only child, right?) Admit it, you've never heard of all the different versions of the seal over the years, and now you realize you've been parroting an empty argument.

It's OK, it happens to all of us. At least it's good to know you are able to describe Tim Kaine accurately.

JohnMashey; So in your world it's okey-dokey if some scientists bend research results to fit their theory, we'll all just look the other way. Yet it's noble for a Governor to force out a scientist who dares question what has come to be known as "questionable" research.

Yeah, now that's the way to attract great researchers.

(Do a little research yourself, you can begin with the phrase, "deny the decline".)

Posted by: altonfoley | May 11, 2010 7:18 AM | Report abuse

Hahahaha... altonfoley.

Kaine forced out Michaels, really? I scoff.

Posted by: dpc2003 | May 11, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

U-Va. "exploring options" on Cuccinelli climate change subpoena

Hopefully one of the options is impeachment. They do have a law school after all.

Posted by: Froomkin_fan | May 11, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Scoff all you want, dpc2003. It's recorded history.

Posted by: altonfoley | May 11, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

And what charge would you suggest, Froomkin_fan?

To no one in particular;
Why am I the only one brave enough to use a real name on here, anyway? Everybody else seems to want to hide behind some nonsensical series of letters. (I suppose that fits, most comments are nonsensical too.)

Posted by: altonfoley | May 11, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Congratulations to Cuccinelli for having the courage to try to expose a criminal HOAX that threatens to destroy our economy and our freedoms.

Obama and his billionaire comrades are now ready for "the kill." Their corrupt scientists and media have been busy helping them brainwash us with ridiculous man-made global warming fairy tales.

To increase their power and wealth at our expense, Obama and his billionaire fraudulent friends (Gore, Soros, Obama’s Chicago Climate Exchange friends, GE, the United Nations, etc.) have been busy brainwashing us.

GE, for example, has bombarded us with daily propaganda -- through its NBC networks, that includes MSNBC and CNBC -- to make us swallow the scam. Why? Because they stand to make BILLIONS from the scam at our expense. Not only is GE the largest wind turbine generator maker, but it may benefit as the sole “secondary market” trader of the cap and trade credits.

Honest scientists and thinking people all over the world have realized that "man-made global warming" is a hoax that threatens our future and the future of our children. It’s the HOAX, not any “global warming” that really threatens us.

Posted by: AntonioSosa | May 12, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

altonfoley & ecocampaigner! That was some of the finest posting I have seen.

Ken Cuccinelli is a rare and respected principled patriot. He knows his DUTY well and does not ask anyone's permission to do it.

Posted by: Russell_P_Davis | May 12, 2010 11:08 PM | Report abuse

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