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U.-Va. hires legal counsel as it prepares for possible fight over Cuccinelli subpoena

Rosalind Helderman

The University of Virginia has hired the big law firm Hogan Lovells to help the school evaluate its options in responding to a civil subpoena from the state attorney general seeking documents related to the work of a former professor. It's the strongest indication yet that the school is seriously considering fighting the subpoena in court, as various academic groups have urged.

"The University and its Board of Visitors believe it is important to respond to this [civil information demand]," said John O. Wynne, the Rector of the university, in his first statement on the issue. "Research universities must defend the privilege of academic freedom in the creation of new knowledge. Hogan Lovells will help us to explore the appropriate options for a response."

The university has until May 27 to decide whether to petition a court to intervene. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) is seeking documents related to the work of global warming scientist Michael Mann, who worked at the university until 2005 and is now at Penn State. Cuccinelli, an outspoken global warming skeptic, has said he is investigating whether Mann defrauded taxpayers as he sought grant money for his research.

Dealing with the legal issues is tricky for the university's own general counsel's office, because its members are formally employees of the attorney general's office.

In the university's most lengthy statement to date on the issue, U.Va. president John T. Casteen III referred to a statement issued by the faculty senate criticizing Cuccinelli's Civil Investigative Demand as an attack on academic freedom.

"Leading scientists and others have expressed concern that the issuance of a CID in this situation may be as much a political gesture as a search for scientific truth," Casteen said.

The university statement calls Cuccinelli's request "extremely broad and far reaching," noting that it requests documents related to five grants Mann received, as well as all email correspondence between Mann and 40 other individuals over 10 years.

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By Rosalind Helderman  |  May 14, 2010; 5:31 PM ET
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli , Rosalind Helderman  | Tags: Global warming, Ken Cuccinelli, Michael Mann, University of Virginia  
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"Leading scientists and others have expressed concern that the issuance of a CID in this situation may be as much a political gesture as a search for scientific truth,"

If the data & research are sound, then these supposed "leading scientists" and "others" shouldn't be concerned about it.

Sounds like someone may be hiding something.

Posted by: HughJassPhD | May 14, 2010 7:56 PM | Report abuse

The University of Virginia is doing a good thing by hiring legal counsel against Cuccinelli's demand which is a threat to academic freedom.

Posted by: LibertyForAll | May 14, 2010 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Cuccinelli is a teabagger. He is hiding something, but poorly -- his dream to keep climbing the political structure by way of wingnut beliefs. Next on his agenda is lawsuits to prevent the teaching of evolution.

Posted by: peter_nd | May 14, 2010 10:45 PM | Report abuse

Great... First, Cuccinelli drives away anyone who is interested in protecting the rights of gays and lesbians. Now, he will scare away the greatest academic minds in the country from teaching and doing research at Virginia universities. Why would they come here when they can teach in another state and not have to worry about political and ideological vendettas? The people of Virginia should be embarrassed we elected this guy.

Posted by: bendergary | May 14, 2010 10:47 PM | Report abuse

The University is part of the state government. They need to cough up.

Posted by: Nemo24601 | May 15, 2010 12:34 AM | Report abuse

Here that sound libs? It's the sound of the final nail going into the coffin of the whole "Man Made Global Warming Crisis"! Come on kooks, why on earth would you follow what Algore is saying? Oops, my bad, you are the same dorks who followed around a failed community organizer chanting CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN. Time to grow up libs!!

Posted by: trippermeow | May 15, 2010 4:19 AM | Report abuse

Another "moderate" action from the "moderates" the people of Virginia believed they were electing. This guy Cuccinelli seems to spend all his time trying to screw up other institutions of Virginia and the United States.

Posted by: cmckeonjr | May 15, 2010 7:52 AM | Report abuse

Oh, please! What rubbish. First, U Va gets only a tiny fraction of its budget from Virginia. They owe Virginia nothing for the pittance they receive. Secondly, the political grandstand our low IQ Attorney General seeks should be reserved for the same audience that goes to dog fights. He wants to embarrass the university, to draw attention to himself, and to promote his religion. The University has a moral obligation, a solemn duty to every academic and every university in the world, to fight this to the end. Congrats, Virginia ... we got the bumpkin we voted for.

Posted by: PostBad887 | May 15, 2010 8:28 AM | Report abuse

We Virginia residents might as well tattoo "idiot" on our foreheads for giving this feeble-minded autocrat a soapbox from which to pursue his private agenda and waste the time and resources of the Commonwealth. The election of this second-rate, self-important charlatan was an abject failure judgment. The moronic pseudo-legal arguments in support of Cooch's heavy-handed abuse of his office merely underscore the poverty of thought underlying his actions.

Posted by: Globo | May 15, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

If it was reasonable to think this inquiry actually had anything to do with financial fraud, then compliance would be the right path. But the man investigated, Professor Michael Mann, has been away from the school for five years, and the studies investigated were mostly funded by the Feds, not Virginia taxpayers. For these reasons, it's very clear Cuccinelli is not really investigating fraud. If he wanted to do that, there are no doubt countless other better targets - where the suspected criminal still gets money from the state, or the prospect of a recovery of large sums of money is much better. We know this is not an unbiased investigation by these facts alone.

Posted by: boatbrain | May 15, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Cuccinelli is an embarassment to the state of Virginia. How could someone so ignorant rise to a position of such power? His major success to date has been to perpetuate and promote an existing stereotype of our state as a backwards place. For all of us who know a different side of Virginia--modern, dynamic and diverse--his bumbling stupidity is a sad, sad thing to see.

Posted by: jea5a | May 15, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

You were warned Virgina...what morons are yet Roman Catholic?

And you made two, AG and governor!

Posted by: iamerican | May 15, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

UVA is hiding the scam that is called Global Warming. Let's open the files and see. Frauds.

Posted by: DaMan2 | May 15, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

When can we recall this creature?

Posted by: ksu499 | May 15, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

If Mann has nothing to hide, provide the info and be done with it!!!! BTW, the Icelandic volcano has already sent more than 5 years of worldwide greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and still going.

Here's a real time experiment on whether this is a hoax or not!!!!!

Posted by: Jimbo77 | May 15, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

The state of Virginia only provides 7% of UVA's budget, so in my book, UVA is not part of the state government and is private.

Posted by: steve1231 | May 15, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

I've had doubts about the global warming issue and about Mann's motives, but Cuccinelli's request/demand for information is the wrong way to go. Science will prove man-made global warming correct or incorrect, but digging around in universities for political gain is definitely the wrong move. This will only stifle further inquiry, and a previous post is correct. This will send serious academics to other states.

Posted by: panamint | May 15, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

This is outrageous. CuckooCuckooNelli is the one defrauding Virginia taxpayers. How much are his personal vendettas costing the state? What's he going to do next, sue everyone in the state who isn't an insane fundie like him?

Good for the university for fighting this dangerous whackjob.

Posted by: solsticebelle | May 15, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

There is a retirement home in Savannah, Georgia that will no longer allow prayers and mealtimes. Why? Because half of the money used to feed these senior citizens, comes from the Federal Government.

UVA doesn't get it. You can't claim academic freedom and take money from the Commonwealth and make the claim "academic freedom," unless you don't take their money.

When you accept money, you take the risk of being audited. Chancellor, it's audit time.

Let's see if all or some of that money was blown in a strip-club, instead of "academic freedom?"

Posted by: Computer_Forensics_Expert_Computer_Expert_Witness | May 15, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

It's hillarious the way these brilliant global warming deniers use such civil language as they bait their perceived enemies. Like askgee, I guess so if you're ret@rded...and Try using more than 7/5 of your brain LIB T@RD. Wow how many folks are able to use 7/5ths of their brains besides the writer I wonder? Just a couple of many examples from his brilliance. Then there is this from trippermeow, Here that sound libs? It's the sound of the final nail going into the coffin of the whole "Man Made Global Warming Crisis"! Come on kooks, why on earth would you follow what Algore is saying? Oops, my bad, you are the same dorks This bright bulb doesn't even know the difference between hear and here. And these are just a two of the mental giants who get their information from Glenn Beck and can't wait to straighten us all out with the truth according to Glenn and all the other Fox squawkers!

Posted by: trbajaz | May 15, 2010 7:03 PM | Report abuse

What is UVA hiding? Not good, coming on the heels of UVA inaction leading up to the Lacrosse murder. I think Thomas Jefferson might be a little ashamed of his university these days.

Posted by: JCM-51 | May 15, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

What is UVA hiding? Not good, coming on the heels of UVA inaction leading up to the Lacrosse murder. I think Thomas Jefferson might be a little ashamed of his university these days.

Posted by: JCM-51 | May 15, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, but I tune out anyone who starts their sentences with "Liberals..."

And in case anyone cares about my political persuasion, I voted for Ron Paul last year.

Global warming is not a left-right issue -- not remotely. The only reason it became a left-right issue is because the TPTB made it into one for purpose of scoring points. The harassment of Mann by Cuccinelli et al. (who is only doing this to further his political career) is akin to the harassment of Herbert Needleman, who showed that lead adversely affected neurological development. In Needleman's case, he was harassed by the lead industry. Mann's harassers are a little more sophisticated, and are harnessing "useful idiots" to do their bidding.

Posted by: steve1231 | May 15, 2010 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Academic freedom or Politically Correct Fraud? Let Al Gore pay for the legal team, he is the one making huge profits of the global warming myth.

Thomas Jefferson would be ashamed of UVA.

Posted by: JCM-51 | May 15, 2010 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Once again, Cucinelli is abusing his position to enact his personal agenda of tyrannical ignorance, at OUR expense.
How much is this latest witch hunt going to cost us??
And I would remind everyone that this is how tea-bagger republican spend our money - with complete disregard for fiscal responsibility!

Posted by: jeffc6578 | May 15, 2010 11:02 PM | Report abuse

The State of Virginia is a backwater whose finest hour was when they left the Union. The folks who voted for Koo-Koo-cinelli show nothing has changed.

Posted by: fabricmaven1 | May 15, 2010 11:36 PM | Report abuse

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