U.Va.: Cuccinelli brief an 'editorial screed' that proves he's targeting academic
The war of words between Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and the University of Virginia over Cuccinelli's attempt to subpoena the work of a former university professor heated up Tuesday as the university filed a brief in court deeming a Cuccinelli memo in the case an "editorial screed," a "lengthy harangue" that amounts to proof that Cuccinelli is targeting the professor for his scientific conclusions.
Cuccinelli has been going back and forth with the state university for weeks over a civil investigative demand he issued to the school in April, demanding research documents and e-mails related to the work of climate scientist Michael Mann, who was employed at the university until 2005. Mann's work concludes that the earth has experienced a rapid, recent warming -- a conclusion Cuccinelli rejects.
Cuccinelli has said the results of Mann's research isn't at question but that he is investigating whether Mann defrauded Virginia taxpayers as he sought five public grants while employed at the university.
But the university's lawyers alleged in court today that Cuccinelli's own court filings undermine that claim. They write:
The Attorney General's opposition itself makes clear that Attorney General did not issue the civil investigative demands under the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers act to investigate fraud on Commonwealth taxpayers.Rather, the CIDs were issued in an unprecedented attempt to challenge a university professor's peer reviewed data, methodologies and conclusions. But FATA does not authorize the Attorney General to police academic debate -- and it certainly does not authorize the Attorney General to target for government investigation those who conduct scientific research with which the Attorney General disagrees.
In a 41-page brief filed in Albemarle County Circuit Court on July 13, Cuccinelli's lawyers argued in essence that a small group of scientists including Mann have, essentially, manipulated scientific conclusions for years to produce results that would support massive regulation of carbon dioxide.
The lawyers also spend some time disputing Mann's best-known scientific conclusion -- the so-called Hockey Stick graph that indicated that the earth has experienced a recent, rapid warming.
The university, ordinarily a client of the attorney general, has hired outside counsel to fight Cuccinelli's demand. They've asked an Albemarle County Circuit Court judge to set it aside, arguing that complying would compromise free inquiry at the university. Cuccinelli has asserted that academic freedom provides no shield to an investigation of possible fraud.
The long-awaited court hearing on the issue will take place in August.
July 20, 2010; 3:33 PM ET
Categories: Ken Cuccinelli , Rosalind Helderman | Tags: climate change, global warming, hockey stick, ken cuccinnelli, michael mann, university of virginia
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