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GMU investigating climate change skeptic cited by Cuccinelli

Rosalind Helderman

A leading skeptic of climate change science whose work was cited last week by Virginia Attorney Gen. Ken Cuccinelli is himself under investigation on charges that his work contained plagiarism and inaccuracies, a George Mason University spokesman confirmed Friday.

The investigation was first reported by USA Today, which quoted GMU statistics professor Edward Wegman as saying he knew of the investigation but he had been asked not to comment about it by the university.

Wegman headed up a 2006 congressional committee that reported problems with scientific research that showed the earth has experience rapid, recent warming, notably a 1999 paper by then-University of Virginia professor Michael Mann.

The Wegman Report was cited repeatedly in the civil subpoena
filed last week by Cuccinelli's office to the University of Virginia seeking e-mails and documents related to Mann. The citations came in an attachment to the subpoena intended to show that there was reason to believe that Mann might have committed fraud as he sought state money for research.

Cuccinelli says he wants to investigate a $214,000 grant Mann received from the state. Mann says the grant funded research unrelated to climate change, but the civil investigative demand alleges that he might have used his earlier research on the topic to help get the funding.

In the subpoena, lawyers for Cuccinelli noted that the Wegman Report found the data in Mann's articles "poorly documented and archived."

But now it turns out that Wegman and his report are the subject of scrutiny as well. Other scientists have been posting analyses of his work online, indicating that portions are plagiarized and that the report contains inaccurate citations.

Dan Walsch, a spokesman for GMU, confirmed that the university was investigating charges that the report was plagiarized and that it contained inaccurate information.

Referring to the university's faculty handbook, he indicated such charges are investigated by a faculty grievance committee that turns over its findings to the university president. According to the handbook, tenured professors can be terminated for "violations of professional ethics" or for "a finding of research or scholarly misconduct."

USA Today quotes University of Massachusetts professor Raymond Bradley, a co-writer of Mann's 1999 paper, as saying he wrote GMU a letter in April raising concerns about Wegman's report. Scientists examining the Wegman report have found text that appears to be taken from Bradley's work. He received a letter from the university indicating that it anticipated completing an investigation into the charges by the end of September.

It's worth noting that climate change science has become such a hot potato that professors on both sides have come under scrutiny. Pennsylvania State University convened a panel to investigate charges of professional misconduct by Mann this year. It concluded that there was no evidence Mann falsified or suppressed data.

Cuccinelli, meanwhile, is trying to withstand scrutiny from a judge, who had found that an earlier demand for documents from U-Va. insufficiently explained why Cuccinelli had reason to believe that Mann might have committed fraud.

We've asked Cuccinelli's office for reaction to news of the GMU investigation and we'll bring you any response we receive.

By Rosalind Helderman  | October 8, 2010; 3:32 PM ET
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli, Rosalind Helderman  
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So, uhh, Kennnyboy, when are you withdrawing your nonsense? You aren't? Because the lame-stream media caused all this?

Personally, I think the judge should dismiss this action with prejudice and contact the Virginia State Bar about unethical practices. What a dope (no offense meant to dope, either).

Posted by: RogerRamjet2 | October 8, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

With all of the space that's been given to the bogus "Climategate", do you seriously think this is just a local VA politics story? The reason "both sides have come under scrutiny" is that the opponents of science have no qualms about making s**t up.

Posted by: weathergrill | October 8, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

LOL, Cuccinelli's investigation might have led to the exposure of shoddy scholarship all right, only it was Wegman's!

Posted by: imback | October 8, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Proof there is a God.

And he's not too happy with our stewardship of the Earth.

Posted by: krickey7 | October 8, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

In other news Edward Wegman lawyers up as George Mason University opens an investigation into professional misconduct and plagiarism in his report to Congress which tried to trash Michael Mann.

Posted by: EliRabett2003 | October 8, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Eli in his modesty omitted the link to his post and discussion on the subject:

Posted by: weathergrill | October 8, 2010 6:32 PM | Report abuse

GMU, where Mercatus Center resides. Mercatus is funded by Koch/Exxon etc to push climate denial and mask it as a legitimate university group.

Koch is the same group that has made headlines as one of the major backers of Americans for Prosperity and also started the right wing group CATO Institute.

David Kochs father was one of the founders of The John Birch Society, the group shunned in the 60's that claimed fluoride was a secret plot.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | October 8, 2010 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of funding, those GMU free marketeers have no problem with bellying up to the public trough:

Increasing State Funding"

Posted by: CapitalClmate | October 9, 2010 12:48 AM | Report abuse

Fat chance Ken Cuccinelli will pursue actual fraud. Ken Cuccinelli only prosecutes those who disagree with him. Take for instance Bobby Thompson, the guy who donated $55,000 to Ken on behalf of illegitimate Navy Vet charities. Do you think Ken will ever help try to locate and prosecute the guy? No friggin way. Why? Because he is a corrupt politician just like the rest of them. He carries a huge Jung shadow, just like the rest of his wannabe conservative cohorts.

Posted by: slydell | October 9, 2010 7:29 AM | Report abuse

Well, this should be interesting. The headline should really read:

"Climate Denial U. investigating climate denier Wegman"

GMU has received more money from the Koch organizations--nearly $30 million--than from ANY other source.

There are just so many interesting possibilities one hardly knows where to begin. The moral is, sufficient hard data will eventually back even hard core deniers into a corner. Well done, Deep Climate.

Posted by: chrisd3 | October 9, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

And the reaction from the AG's office was????
Crickets . . .

Posted by: CapitalClmate | October 9, 2010 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Oriana2 | October 9, 2010 8:02 PM | Report abuse

Or, put another way, "87 year old retired nuclear scientist declares global warming a scam and cancels American Physical Society membership, reducing total membership to ~46,000."

Posted by: cce1976 | October 10, 2010 12:00 AM | Report abuse

Nice try at distraction. If anyone wants to know about the tiny fraction (<-.5%) of the APS (I'm a member) that signed that petition, and how it was organized, adn its demographics, then read:

The demographic analysis showed the signers were rather unrepresentative of the APS as a whole. It's too bad, I've read one of Lewis' books from 20 years ago and he was pretty sensible then.

Now, back to something relevant.

Posted by: JohnMashey | October 10, 2010 6:15 PM | Report abuse

JohnMashey, excellent work on this.

Posted by: imback | October 10, 2010 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Dear Ms. Helderman,

Thanks for all your reports on Cuccinelli.

You write "We've asked Cuccinelli's office for reaction to news of the GMU investigation and we'll bring you any response we receive."

The Attorney General's office doesn't answer questions even from people like me who stupidly voted for Cuccinelli because I didn't understand what he was.

I have asked W. Russell, Cuccinelli's deputy, questions about Cuccinelli's father, but they won't respond. His email is

Cuccinelli's father was an executive in the American Gas Association. Now he has an advertising, marketing, company that touts his expertise in the gas industry and his "European" clients.

I have asked if the elder Cuccinelli's "European" clients include Russian gas companies and what services the elder Cuccinelli's companies provide his clients. I asked if the elder Cuccinelli is providing his clients with the services of our attorney general.

I asked these questions because the elder Cuccinelli's firm gave over 96,000 dollars to the Attorney General's campaign and because the Russian government and the Russian fossil fuel companies are trying to discredit the science of global warming.

Please keep asking Cuccinelli questions.

Please ask them about what I found out.

Cuccinelli tries to make Virginians want to revolt against the Federal Government, but we fought a revolution because European tyrants were oppressing us. We didn't fight a revolution because the EPA was trying to protect us from global warming.

Cuccinelli is spreading the Russian propaganda when he claims our climate scientists are greedy and dishonest. In his legal action against the EPA, Cuccinelli even cited Russia's official press agency RIA Novosti as "proof" that global warming is not happening.

Well, the party line has changed, and RIA Novosti has quoted President Medvedev claiming global warming is real.

Medvedev used to claim that global warming was a trick.

Here is information I found about Cuccinelli's father.

I am very concerned that the Attorney General is persecuting Dr. Mann because he gets money from fossil fuel interests, perhaps even Russian ones.

I don't think Dr. Mann is greedy or dishonest. I think Cuccinelli is the greedy, dishonest one.

Posted by: crascal | October 10, 2010 9:10 PM | Report abuse

What did Cuccinelli have to say about this at the Richmond tea party on Saturday?

Posted by: CapitalClmate | October 10, 2010 11:52 PM | Report abuse

The Wegman issue centers on Mann's creation of his infamous "Hockey Stick".

The tree ring data and the information behind its collection is available on the internet. Intriguingly there were TWO collections, not just one taken at one site at one time.

The first was from trees at the top of the hills overlooking the Lena river valley.

The second was from trees at the bottom of the hills overlooking the Lena river valley.

There has always been a substantial microclimate difference between the two areas.

Mann claimed all the samples were taken from one site at one time.

Sorry, not true.

He went on to commit academic fraud. Wegman is charged by some of Mann's friends (who probably know all about Mann's tree ring fraud) with what are argued are irregularities in the way a report on the issue of the Hockey Stick was prepared.

I think Wegman simply hired the wrong guy. The good stuff is already on the internet. It's available for anyone to look at.

You see, I'm giving it all away for free.

That's because I believe in academic integrity, and Mann and his funny little friends simply don't have it.

Posted by: muawiyah | October 11, 2010 10:44 PM | Report abuse

The muawiyah post above is libellous and malicious garbage.

Posted by: Amoeba | October 12, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

LOL! Hey Kookinelli - why don't you SUE YOURSELF!

Posted by: solsticebelle | October 12, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

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