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Posted at 4:42 PM ET, 01/ 6/2011

UPDATED: U-Va. receives new FOIA for global warming documents

By Rosalind S. Helderman
Rosalind S. Helderman

The University of Virginia has received a request under Virginia's freedom of information laws seeking documents related to the work of former university climate scientist Michael Mann.

The American Tradition Institute Environmental Law Center on Thursday asked the university to turn over documents, including e-mails Mann exchanged with other scientists while employed at the university, on behalf of Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William) and two other state residents.

The group seeks similar documents to those sought by Virginia Attorney Gen. Ken Cuccinelli II (R) using a civil subpoena. The university has been fighting Cuccinelli's demand in court, arguing that his inquiry violates Mann's academic freedom and that the attorney general has singled out Mann because he does not agree with his research findings that the earth has experienced a rapid, recent warming.

Cuccinelli says he wants the documents to explore whether a fraud investigation is warranted. He is using subpoena power given to him under Virginia's Fraud Against Taxpayers Act, which empowers the attorney general to investigate instances in which public employees misuse tax dollars.

A judge in September set aside Cuccinelli's civil investigative demand because it did not state objective reasons why Cuccinelli believed fraud might have taken place. He rewrote the request and remains in litigation with the university over the issue.

Mann, who left the university in 2005 and now works at Pennsylvania State University, has been cleared of wrongdoing by several previous inquiries into his work. His research findings have also been upheld by other scientists.

Marshall made a similar request to the University of Virginia prior to Cuccinelli's subpoena. The university at first told Marshall it no longer had access to the documents he sought. But in response to Cuccinelli's subpoena, it has acknowledged that it has a backup server that contains some of the records.

The university has now told Marshall that the costs of preparing the documents he seeks would total $8,000. He has filed a bill to be considered when the legislature convenes next week to allow public employees to be terminated or otherwise disciplined if they knowingly violate public information laws.

The group notes that FOIA law gives the university just one week to respond to the request. If the school legally resists, it says it is prepared for a court fight.

"We can then, finally, determine what it is that so many have gone to such great lengths to keep the public from knowing about that which the public has paid for," they said in a statement.

The group's senior director of litigation, Christopher Horner, has written two books on why he believes global warming is a hoax and gives frequently speeches on the subject. He is also a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

In a statement, Mann noted that the think tank receives funding from ExxonMobile and other corporate groups.

"Industry-funded lobbyists like Horner have been using precisely the same tactics for decades to intimidate scientists whose scientific findings proved inconvenient to the vested interests they represent such as the tobacco, pharmaceutical, and chemical industries," he said.

"There is substantial case law defending scientists and academics against such thinly-veiled attempts to suppress scientific inquiry by harassing individual scientists. I suspect that U.Va, as other great universities have in the past, will respect that tradition and stand up against these transparent attempts not just to bully me, but to thwart the progress of science," Mann said.

We've reached out to the university to learn how they plan to respond to the freedom of information request but have not yet heard back.

UPDATE 6:09 p.m.: Carol Wood, a spokesman for the University of Virginia, confirms the university has received the FOIA request but says a response has not yet been formulated. She notes the attorneys handling the university's legal challenge to Cuccinelli are being paid with private donations, not tax dollars.

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | January 6, 2011; 4:42 PM ET
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli, Rosalind Helderman  
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Comments

R. Helderman writes: " The university has been fighting Cuccinelli's demand in court, arguing that his inquiry violates Mann's academic freedom and that the attorney general has singled out Mann because he does not agree with his research findings that the earth has experienced a rapid, recent warming". However, she hypocritically fails to point out that, under FOIA in late 2009, the "pressure group Greenpeace" sought, and was promised, e-mails and other materials of Patrick Michaels, who also formerly worked in the same university department but has different opinions on Catastrophic AGW. "Academic Freedom" is applied to stonewall for one viewpoint but not the other!! How typical and how sad.

Posted by: adpack | January 6, 2011 7:38 PM | Report abuse

"...has been cleared of wrongdoing by several previous inquiries into his work."

This statement is not accurate. There has been only one investigation that has looked into Mann's role in the Climategate affair. This investigation was conducted by Mannn's colleagues at Penn State. Penn State Investigation cleared Mann, writing: "Dr. Mann was asked to address the four allegations leveled against him. He stated that he never engaged in activities or behaviors that were inconsistent with accepted academic practices."

The Penn State panel went on to conclude "[Dr. Mann's] level of success in obtaining funding, clearly places Dr. Mann among the most respected scientists in his field."

This hardly qualifies as a serious investigation.

Posted by: prguy0000 | January 6, 2011 7:40 PM | Report abuse

I used to be a Republican until I studied how the Republican Party and the fossil-fuel industry are in cahoots when it come to persecuting our scientists.

Cuccinelli's father is a career lobbyist for the natural gas industry.

One of his companies gave Attorney General Cuccinelli 96,000 in campaign donations.

I think that the Cuccinellis attack the science of global warming because they make money in the fossil-fuel industry.

The elder Cuccinelli has "European" clients. I wonder if he has Russian gas companies or their fronts for his clients.

I think AG Cuccinelli works for the fossil-fuel companies, not the people. He's just a hired gun for the fossil-fuel companies---maybe even "European" companies.

Cuccinelli should be investigated to see if money is being funneled to him from foreign companies.

Since I saw what he is doing, persecuting scientists and calling them greedy liars, I have become a Democrat.

Posted by: crascal | January 6, 2011 9:34 PM | Report abuse

Cuccinelli got 55,000 dollars from a Florida con-man who goes by the name of "Bobby Thompson." This man is on the run for crimes like money-laundering and stealing money from people who thought they were giving to a military charity.

His Ohio lawyer is now cooperating with the authorities. She claims that Thompson may have fled to Eastern Europe or the Middle East. One lawyer in this firm is the former Ohio Attorney General.

This accused criminal gave money to politicans who would remove regulations from "military" charities, but his "military" charity was a criminal operation.

Thompson lived poorly, so I wonder where the millions he raised went.

Cuccinelli should be investigating the thief who gave him all that money.

Posted by: crascal | January 6, 2011 9:42 PM | Report abuse

Simply put...Thanks for reporting.
In my opinion, all Virginians benifit from your reports.

Posted by: bewein | January 6, 2011 9:51 PM | Report abuse

What's the big deal with releasing Mann's information that is being requested? If it turns out there's nothing there, then we skeptics will look a bit foolish and the believers will have something to help their scientific stature since climategate.

And by the way, just wondering if the Washington Post published any of the wikeleaks cable gate information? If you did, then you should be supporting the release of Mann's information.

Posted by: SoCal_Mark | January 6, 2011 10:43 PM | Report abuse

crascal said "I used to be a Republican until I studied how the Republican Party and the fossil-fuel industry are in cahoots when it come to persecuting our scientists."

Open your eyes, the left is in cahoots with foreign nations in trying to fulfill the NIEO (New International Economic Order) goals that fizzed out during the '80's. If the greens win, wealth will be redistributed from industrialized countries to developing countries, we will be transferring our tech and tech know-how to developing countries, and a global government could be put in place that will manage (equitably ration) the world's resources. And our standard of living is going to drop considerably while the developing countries economies standards of living rise until there is a 'convergence' of per capita GDP's.

I know I sound crazy but I read these things in various environmental books (some written by John P. Holdren) as well as from sites such as the UN, various academia sites, various environmental sites, and various environmental NGOs.

Trust me, they are using AGW to fulfill the NIEO. And I gotta believe that Russia and China are sitting on the sidelines planning a party when the outcome arrives.

Posted by: SoCal_Mark | January 6, 2011 10:51 PM | Report abuse

adpack wrote, "However, she hypocritically fails to point out that, under FOIA in late 2009, the "pressure group Greenpeace" sought, and was promised, e-mails and other materials of Patrick Michaels..."

Hypocritically? First, maybe she wasn't even thinking of it. I don't see you pointing to any evidence that she was ever aware of this red herring.

Second, we aren't talking about Michael Mann being funded by the windmill or or solar panel industry to testify as part of a PR firm that he owns and regularly makes the circuits as an "expert witness" for hire. But this is what would be equivalent to Patrick Michaels and his "New Hope."

In 2010 Michaels admitted that 40% of his income comes from the oil industry. And he also gets money from the automobile industry and utility companies. It is a question of where his funding comes from. And this isn't funding that goes into scientific research -- but into PR and acting as a "witness" for fossil fuel interests. None of the funding for research that Mann receives ends up in his pocket. He has tenure. It goes to pay for the science.

Regarding Michaels, please see:

Patrick J. Michaels
http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Patrick_J._Michaels

... and the nineteen organizations that he participates in that are part of Exxon's disinformation network as identified by Greenpeace, twelve of which are known to receive funding from Exxon:

http://www.exxonsecrets.org/index.php?mapid=1661

Posted by: timothychase | January 6, 2011 11:52 PM | Report abuse

SoCal_Mark wrote, "What's the big deal with releasing Mann's information that is being requested? If it turns out there's nothing there, then we skeptics will look a bit foolish and the believers will have something to help their scientific stature since climategate."

There isn't any evidence of any wrong-doing, so basically you have the AG appealing to the principle that one is guilty until proven innocent. Then there is the harrassment and intimidation involved -- and the threat of harrassment and intimidation that any scientist may face if they arrive at scientific conclusions that are unpopular in certain quarters.

Furthermore, it's a fishing expedition. BAsically they are looking for something, anything that might be quote-mined. Like the creationists quote-mine evolutionary biologists. Like the people who ordered the Watergate breakin intended to use the material the burglars brought back. As material for character assassination.

Kind of like what happened with "Climategate," except with Watergate the burglars were caught and the criminals were put on trial whereas with Climategate it was the victims that were put on trial -- in the papers.

Anyway, I lean libertarian (Ok, Objectivist -- close enough) -- but properly identification precedes evaluation, and science must be granted precedence over ideology.

Posted by: timothychase | January 7, 2011 12:09 AM | Report abuse

"I know I sound crazy..."

The conspiracy by scientists to impose world socialism by means of greenhouse gas theory is much wider than you think.

Not only does it include the thousands of scientists that contributed to the tens of thousands of studies that constitute the literature cited by the IPCC, but the scientists who studied the principles of radiation transfer theory, quantum mechanics, the study of the absorption of radiation in the atmosphere by defense scientists...

It even reaches back to the study of the atmospheric absorption of infrared radiation by carbon dioxide performed by a fellow by the name of Tyndall back in the 1860s. It even includes NASA satellites and water vapor!

http://climate-guardian.agilityhoster.com/avatar/

Posted by: timothychase | January 7, 2011 1:11 AM | Report abuse

"The conspiracy by scientists to impose world socialism by means of greenhouse gas theory is much wider than you think."

Is it April 1 already? Nice. I can dust my bike off.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | January 7, 2011 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Who the hell is funding American Tradition Institute Environmental Law Center?

Don't be surprised to find a Koch industries link. They are behind global warming denial front groups around the globe. They run Mercatus Group, CATO Institute, help fund Heritage Foundation, etc etc etc.

David Koch is a cancer to our society, literally. His companies are responsible for poisoning millions of our children and grandchildren.

Don't back down.

Never let up the good fight.

Our future is at stake.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | January 7, 2011 9:16 AM | Report abuse

As far as I'm concerned, anyone who says that global warming is a hoax is a fool or a liar and probably both.

Most if not all major scientific societies have said that global warming is real, that a large component of it is probably due to humans and that it is a serious problem that needs to be addressed.

I do believe that some individuals have hyped global warming, blaming every weather event on it.

Michael Mann did some interesting and controversial work. It has been very extensively investigated and argued about, both in the scientific literature and on the internet. My understanding is that it was not paid for by the state of Virginia and therefore is not under the jurisdiction of the Attorney General. The state of Virginia paid for a separate study by Mann that has nothing to do with the "hockey stick". The attorney general is out of his jurisdiction and out of control. His investigation of Michael Mann seems to be harassment; he could and should be disbarred for that.

I do not know how correct Michael Mann's work is. I have seen and heard of no evidence of fraud or conscious deception.
Making a mistake in scientific work is not a crime, if it was a lot of the people questioning global warming would be in serious trouble.

Posted by: Dadmeister | January 7, 2011 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Dear Ms. Helderman:
After reading this report, I realize I need to apologize to you. I apologize for presuming malicious intent on your part for what I believed were intentional omissions of fact from your writing. I now suspect that your editors cut out key facts when your report is more balanced and does not convey the WAPO editorial position. Two examples from this report are below. Recently I discussed your writing with a reporter who knows you and your work. He spoke highly of you and suggested editorial cuts of material facts from your reports were possible to further the WAPO editorial perspective. Only folks who have carefully read your previous UVA/Mann vs. AG CID reports or who are insiders would notice these omissions which til now I believed were intentionally malicious. Again, I apologize for that.

TWO EXAMPLES of clearly pertinent omitted facts:
(1)You do not include in this article, (or your editors deleted) the fact that you know that the AG has appealed the September ruling to the Virginia Supreme Court: two times previously you report it, here:
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/virginiapolitics/2010/10/virginia_attorney_general_ken_4.html
and here where it headlines the story:
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/virginiapolitics/2010/12/cuccinelli_appeals_to_virginia.html

(2) In the next paragraph you state that, "[Mann] has been cleared of wrongdoing by several previous inquiries into his work." However, you do not note that none of those investigations had access to or reviewed the records that the AG is requesting via the CID. You report here
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/virginiapolitics/2010/07/the_university_of_virginia_hol.html
that "none of those inquiries examined Mann's grant applications at the University of Virginia". Further, the e-mails the AG is requesting could not have been reviewed by previous investigations because, as you report, "the university claimed that it no longer held emails from Mann when they were requested through a Freedom of Information Act by Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William) in December 2009. But after receiving the attorney general's civil subpoena, the university revealed that it could resurrect the emails from university servers."

I hope this calling out of your editors will allow your more balanced reporting to include materials facts which run counter to WAPO editorial positions to prevail. Thanks, Bruce

Posted by: BruceFairfax | January 7, 2011 11:05 AM | Report abuse

The word lunatic come from the belief that the moon (luna) causes insanity. Bill O'Reilly believes that the tides (caused by the moon's gratitation pull upon earth) is proof that god exists. The morons dening global warming also fall into the category of modern unatics!

Posted by: TomPaine2 | January 7, 2011 1:10 PM | Report abuse

"She notes the attorneys handling the university's legal challenge to Cuccinelli are being paid with private donations, not tax dollars."

So are you going to ask and report the names of the private donors and how much has been given?

Posted by: BruceFairfax | January 8, 2011 9:37 AM | Report abuse

To take an infinitesimally small piece of the historical record, create a flawed "hockey stick"graph and cry wolf is nothing short of the greatest fraud in science history. See this chart for a more complete look at climate change.

http://www.murdoconline.net/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/gisp2-ice-core-temperatures.jpg

Posted by: WilliamHolder | January 8, 2011 5:29 PM | Report abuse

WilliamHolder wrote, "To take an infinitesimally small piece of the historical record, create a flawed 'hockey stick' graph and cry wolf is nothing short of the greatest fraud in science history. See this chart for a more complete look at climate change."

Yes, take a good look at that chart, please.

First, at the very bottom it states, "Years Before Present (2000 AD)." Then look at the right end of the time axis: it end 95 years "Before Present." Which means 1905. Albert Einstein was demonstrating the existence of atoms by means of calculations involving Brownian motion. We still had three years to wait before the first production Model T Ford.

Somehow I think that chart is missing most of the 20th Century warming, particularly the modern era that started about 70 years later -- around 1975 -- as we started cleaning up our act in the industrialized world with pollution laws and reduced emissions of reflective sulfate aerosols due to combustion.

Regardless, Mann's earlier hockey stick is just one of over a dozen major hockey sticks. In fact, it wasn't even the first -- but it was the first with error bars. And while there have been periods of global warming in the past we understand them -- they don't just happen. The gradual ones are due to Milankovitch Cycles affecting the eccentricity of the Earth's orbit and its tilt. The faster ones are where supervolcanoes resulted not only in the release of vast amounts of carbon dioxide but likely resulted in the melting of methane hydrates along shallow water continental shelves - in India during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum 56 million years ago and in Siberia 251 million years ago. But we can't explain the intensity, extent and duration of earlier warming without amplification due to carbon dioxide and the melting of ice sheets.

Furthermore, even if you were to throw out all of the paleoclimate records there would still be our cummulative understanding of the physics -- which reaches back to 1860 (and before, actually):

http://climate-guardian.agilityhoster.com/avatar/index-dev.php?inner_page=history

Posted by: timothychase | January 9, 2011 11:28 PM | Report abuse

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