Cuccinelli orders new investigation

Attorney general hopes revised subpoena will acquire former University professor

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli reissued a civil investigative demand to the University last Wednesday concerning research grants received by former University Prof. Michael Mann for his climate change research, according to an announcement Cuccinelli made Monday

Cuccinelli - who is accusing Mann of using manipulated or deceitful data to obtain taxpayer-funded research grants - hopes to use this renewed subpoena to acquire documents that will enable him to prosecute Mann under the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act.

Cuccinelli initially issued a subpoena for the records in April. The University opposed the request to relinquish the documents, and Albemarle County circuit judge Paul Peatross, Jr. rejected the demand on the grounds that it lacked necessary information and did not focus specifically on grants paid for by state dollars. According to Peatross' conclusion, "it is not clear what [Mann] did that was misleading, false or fraudulent in obtaining funds from the Commonwealth of Virginia." Cuccinelli, however, is appealing the original ruling to the state supreme court.

According to a Monday press release from the attorney general, "the new CID has been drafted to comply with the judge's ruling, contains information the judge believed was necessary and is more limited in scope than the prior CIDs." The revised demand focuses on one specific state grant, four less than the number addressed by the CID issued in April.

Mann, who is now a meteorology professor at Pennsylvania State University, believes the new CID is misdirected. Cuccinelli's claims of fraud have been directed specifically against climate change research conducted by Mann two decades ago. The grant discussed in the most recent demand, however, was used to pay for an unrelated study, Mann said.

"The grant that Mr. Cuccinelli cites supported the study of natural land-vegetation-atmosphere interaction in the African savanna," Mann stated in an e-mail.

Mann added that his role in the project funded by this grant was relatively minor.

"The grant had nothing to do with climate change at all, let alone my specific work on paleoclimate from the 1990s that Mr. Cuccinelli continues to misrepresent and attack with false, thoroughly discredited, allegations," Mann said. "Neither of the two articles on paleoclimate that Mr. Cuccinelli attacks in the CID are even mentioned or cited in the grant proposal."

Nevertheless, Cuccinelli has repeatedly cited one graph Mann used to present his climate change findings.

"Dr. Mann's Hockey Stick graph is based on suspect data," Cuccinelli stated in the Monday press release. "Others have shown that random numbers can be put into Mann's algorithm, and they always produce a hockey stick graph."

University spokesperson Carol Wood released a statement expressing the University's intent to continue to resist Cuccinelli's demands for documents.

"University leaders are disappointed that the institution must continue to litigate with the Attorney General, but will continue to stand for the principles the University has articulated since the CIDs were first put forward in April - and to support academic communities here and elsewhere," Wood said.

Mann said he believes the investigation is an attack specifically designed to thwart efforts to conduct global warming research.

"I find it extremely disturbing that Mr. Cuccinelli seeks to continue to abuse his power as the attorney general of Virginia in this way, pursuing an ongoing smear campaign against the University of Virginia, me and other climate scientists," Mann said. "All Virginian citizens ought to be extremely concerned that he is using their tax dollars to pursue a partisan witch hunt."

The law firm Hogan Lovells, which successfully represented the University in circuit court this summer, will be commissioned again by the University to review the most recent round of demands from the attorney general. The litigation has so far cost the University $352,874.76, Wood said, adding that the fees have been paid for from private funds.

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