Fighting back? UVA mulls options for Cuccinelli climate demand

ken_cuccinelli_04Show him the papers–- or else.

Less than a month after Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli demanded that UVA turn over any and all documents relating to the work of climate scientist and former UVA professor Michael Mann, 800 Virginia professors and scientists have signed a letter condemning the move, and the ACLU has urged UVA to resist.

"It's the obligation of the university, in the name of academic freedom, not to simply give in but to ask a court to demand that the AG provide a legally defensible reason for his demand," says Kent Willis, executive director the Virginia ACLU.

Cuccinelli, however, isn't backing down.

On Wednesday, May 19, he released a statement addressing the Mann matter and defending his tactics.

"This is a fraud investigation, and the attorney general’s office is not investigating Dr. Mann’s scientific conclusions," the statement reads. "The legal standards for the misuse of taxpayer dollars," the statement continues, "apply the same at universities as they do at any other agency of state government. This is about rooting out possible fraud and not about infringing upon academic freedom."

Cuccinelli's Civil Investigative Demand charges that Mann–- famous for his "hockey stick" model of climate change and who left UVA in 2005 for Penn State–- may have fraudulently received up to $500,000 in state grants by falsifying his data to gloomily portray global warming.

The statement came just a day after Cuccinelli made similar comments at a barbecue in Ivy for the abstinence-only education program Worth Your Wait.

“They need not worry,” Cuccinelli said of his critics, according to the Daily Progress. “The same rule of law, the same objective fact-finding process will take place.“

His words, however, have not soothed the ACLU's Willis.

"In some ways," says Willis, "it doesn't matter why the Attorney General is conducting the investigation. The question for us is, what should UVA do?"

Although UVA initially announced plans to "meet our legal obligation," a stern letter from the ACLU and the American Association of University Professors urging the university to challenge the demand in court as well as a letter signed by 800 scientists and professors–- nearly 300 of them from UVA–- seem to have had some sway. UVA has now hired the international law firm Hogan Lovells to consider its options and has sought and received both an extension on the deadline and a reduction in the amount of documents it has been asked to provide.

“Research universities must defend the privilege of academic freedom in the creation of new knowledge," said UVA rector John O. "Dubby" Wynne in a May 14 statement.

Originally due May 27, UVA now has until July 26 to produce the documents or announce plans to challenge the demand in court.

By challenging the Attorney General's demand, Willis says that UVA would be doing two things: "Acting in defense of academic freedom and also using the law available to make sure the Attorney General isn't on an ideologically-driven fishing trip for information."


I'm just wondering if Cuccinelli will show up for his 20th reunion next month at UVA! LOL. Can't imagine he will be well received. And I'm with durtburglar -- UVA should keep the snarky Blacksburg comments to themselves.

This thread is just further evidence of how climate change advocates are simply blinded by their own ideology. Why exactly is it considered so outrageous that VA's AG seek "data and other materials that Dr. Mann presented in seeking awards/grants funded, in whole or in part, by the Commonwealth of Virginia"?

Mann's publicly-funded "research" should rightfully be scrutinized, particularly in light of clear evidence that his past work has been biased, if not outright fraudulent. This is the same "scientist" who manipulated data to create the infamous hockey stick climate graph. If Mann and UVA did not want their work to be subject to external review they should have looked to private organizations for funding. And if there is reasonable suspicion of fraud, there should be an investigation.

UVA and Can't be true, would you let the police stop you and search your car without probable cause? What about execute a search at your house without a warrant at any time?

If you have nothing to hide, then there's no reason for you to not allow the police to do this anytime you want.

Cuccinelli has present absolutely no evidence that fraud has been committed, and yet he is demanding that UVA turn over documents to him. This is not the way it is supposed to work in The United States of America. Law enforcement does not conduct fishing expeditions looking for criminal activity. They are supposed to prosecute crimes and enforce the law.

How long ago did Mann work at UVA? Have there been no criminal activity in the commonwealth since that time? Because no one is alleging that ANY criminal activity took place by Professor Mann and every moment that the AG's office devotes to this "investigation" are moments that the AG's office is ignoring all of the other ACTUAL criminal activity that has happened in the commonwealth since then.

It's not just a waste of UVA's time (which means tax dollars being wasted) but a waste of the AG's time (which means tax dollars being wasted) as well as a waste of law enforcement's time (which means tax dollars being wasted). If you support law enforcement and are opposed to wasting tax dollars, you should be opposed to this ridiculous adventure by our attorney general.

This is clearly a political fishing expedition. He's using his office, tax dollars and public resources to investigate 5+ year old academic grants in the name of fighting fraud? Seriously, we're supposed to believe that? The fact that's it's AGW-related has nothing to do with it? Really?
This will of course further his reputation with his supporters. A true conservative should be appalled at the use of a public office for the harassment of one's political enemies.


I would invite you to simply google "climategate." If the email exchanges between Mann and his colleagues do not indicate bias to you, then I can't help you. Cherry picking and manipulating data to support a political agenda and holding it out as legitimate research, all at taxpayers' expense,is fraudulent in my view.

@UVA - "With 800 ââ?¬Å?scientist” running scared I am sure the fraud goes far beyond so labled climate change."

You seriously think 800 academics from around the state are actively defrauding the government?

You must constantly worry about the black helicopters hovering over your house too...

To "Can't be true" and "UVA" Spoken like individuals that are completely ignorant of what is being asked. In order to supply all the notes, data, emails etc. requested, the faculty, administrators, technicians will literally have to spend weeks to months organizing and compiling the information requested and in the way they AG wants it presented, then be available to be grilled about it for Lord knows how long. This comes out of the pocket of the university (and you the tax-payer). Time that could productively be spend teaching, doing research, and providing advisory service for the state of Virginia. In the end, after all of this wasted time, tax-payer dollars etc. they will basically discover what the entire scientific community already has discovered (look in the public literature) that nothing is wrong! The true purpose of this (as well as any private political action of this type) is to stop specific teaching and research at a university - that IS the only net product and that is why the university must make every effort to stop it. If you or the AG had half a brain, go to the literature already published on this and you could figure out for yourself that there was no fraud...its all a public, scientific record. That is specifically why it is simply harrassment. Look at the most recent issue of Nature (the premier scientific publication in the world) May 13. The idiocy of our AG and the VA electorate is prominently featured.

I am sure that "UVA" would be very happy to have his home and property searched by police without cause for a search warrant and to spend weeks and months collecting and organizing all of his financial documenation for the last few decades so that the IRS can just take a look and see that everything was in order. After all, if he has nothing to hide then it shouldn't a problem at all.

Judging by some of the above comments most of you think it is ok to get public money and not be held accountable if results are skewed for personal gain or pushing an agenda.
On the other hand you find it appalling that public money is used to check for fraud and support keeping the documents from examination.

You people are so gullible I am embarrased for you.

Manbearpig- Think for yourself and look at the past million years.
CJ. - Until you deal with grads from any college on a day to day basis you may want to keep that comment in check.


The results of Mann's research are in fact readily available for public consumption. His most famous and controversial paper can be found here:

All of the articles in any science are publicly available, but many are behind paywalls for the various science journals. Unfortunately, no one has yet come up with a viable business model for a journal with peer review and free access to content.

One other comment I would like to make before I sign off is that the majority of these responses seem a bit naive as if they were written in blacksburg.

"clear evidence that his past work has been biased, if not outright fraudulent"

Wow. I will appreciate you showing this "clear evidence". Should be easy to link to this evidence so it is so clear. I eagerly await being shown this "evidence".

Thank you, Duncan, for stepping out and being willing to say that you know of evidence of this bias, although you fall short of saying that there is a single shred of evidence of fraud. Regardless, I assume you are able to produce the evidence with a hyperlink on this message board.

@UVA - ââ?¬Å?With 800 ââ?¬Å?scientist” running scared I am sure the fraud goes far beyond so labled climate change.”

You seriously think 800 academics from around the state are actively defrauding the government?

You must constantly worry about the black helicopters hovering over your house too”Š

All you have to do is look inside the beltway, all overly educated frauds with zero common sense, strait from the the world of "academia"

To answer you question directly YES.

Duncan, I think you failed to read my post. The WHOLE POINT of research is manipulating data. So of course Dr. Mann manipulated data. He also explained how and why he chose to do so. You may disagree with his chosen manipulation and it may be someday proven to be a poor choice. However, since he explained exactly what he was doing, it isn't fraud.

Furthermore, having nothing to hide is never justification for allowing an unwarranted search (which this is, quite literally, Mr. Cuccinelli used a fairly tortured definition of the law so that he never actually had to put his request for information in front of a judge). The freedoms granted to us in the Bill of Rights should never be willingly surrendered simply for the sake of expediency.

Ok, I'm of slight confusion here. Why is it that the VA-AG has to formally demand any research provided my Mann in order to continue a fraud investigation in light of that fact that any scholar worth his salt has his research readily available for any peer, person, or entity to scrutinize. Why is it that the research data is being deliberately withheld. If that is the case then I can understand the investigation aspect of this matter. Rare is it that scientific research data/results are not available for public purview and when it is we need to understand why.

"Uncommon point"

Excellent! I have tried to make that point about scientific research before, but only to blank stares. However, I think that you did it very well. I hope it took. Unfortunately, it wouldn't be a point that would have to be made if science education was where it should be. The fact that it's not is why we have such ignorance in our electorate and elected officials. Witness the result, and disbelief from the international community.

If there is nothing to hide turn the docs over.
With 800 "scientist" running scared I am sure the fraud goes far beyond so labled climate change.

The planet has a fever and we are the virus causing it.

uggggh, while I think the records are unlikely to amount to much, it's not the same as searching your vehicle or house without cause/warrant.

Why not? Cucc is trying to destroy Mann's academic reputation to further his political career.


I have witnessed such harassment of colleagues and I have to tell you that you are wrong. Just one year of a student's or technician's work on a project could run 10-20, 100page notebooks, with, often 10-15 emails per week, scattered among 10 - 200 irrelevant emails. I would expect that this PI, over that period of time they are talking about, could have had 10 students, 2 -5 technicians, some number of post-docs, and himself working on these projects. You are talking about hundreds of pounds of paper alone. Then going through thousands upon thousands of pages of notes to organize them for a non-scientist! Then, to be available to explain highly technical scientific data out of these thousands of pages to ignorant lawyers...If allowed, that process can go on indefinitely, literally years, if the AG so desires (wants to be a prick). Take it from me, it is just a harassment tactic.

no albeboy, it's not the same. It's an analogy. However, the reasoning is the same: If you have nothing to hide, you have no reason not to allow the government to demand to search your papers or person at any time it feels like it.

Faked research out of UVA? I would try to hide behind expensive lawyers too. The University can't let the truth come out. That's why the University begs us alum for money all the time, they need lawyers.

Yeah, Matt, I noticed that too. Unless Cucc's office asked for documents by weight or volume, which is quite possible. I could see them calling up U.Va. and saying, "Could you send us over a couple of metric tons of incriminating documents about that Mann guy and Climate-gate, so we can sift through them and publish anything potentially embarrassing to him? It would really excite the rubes in our political base and maybe even get Cucc an interview on Fox News. Thanks a lot!"

Um, that should be "number of documents," unless Cuccinelli's salivation has caused them to mass together.

The statement came just a day after Cuccinelli made similar comments at a barbecue in Ivy for the abstinence-only education program Worth Your Wait.
If Cucc had thrown in another comment questioning Obama's citizenship, then he would have achieved the wingnut trifecta.

Clearly the AG is a headline hungry JACKASS.

I was just talking to a friend in Colorado yesterday ... I remember in the 60's and 70's Pikes Peak would be snow capped for most of the year except August ... and lately it is snow capped maybe a couple of months out of the year now... but the issue with this AG goes much deeper. This guy is a religious nut job! I think he should be recalled.

Virginians must take the blame ... we voted for this guy, and like the Governor, mostly for their charisma and good looks, and not did not seriously question their beliefs.

Previously faculty counted on the AG's office to prevent such tactics, which are used by private political concerns to simply divert faculty's efforts, time, and support away from research and teaching. Now instead of relying on the AG's office to protect us, we must be protected from the AG! Think now of the broader picture. Why would any good academic consider coming to VA when you must keep an eye out for your own Attorney General! (An AG who simply might not care for your area of research.) Unless this case is dropped, along with an apology from the AG's office, UVa and other Virginia universities could, minimally, be in hard times in their recruitments. There is likely not another UVa alum in history that has ever tried to so seriously damage his own alma mater!

I can not believe that our AG is actually wasting tax payer money on this ridiculous notion of his. This makes our state look backward. Get over the fact that UVA is progressive and that the world is heating up. Look at the facts. The glaciers are melting, the ocean level is rising, we continue to burn fossil fuels at a greater and greater rate, and the climate is changing. When my mother was a young girl, the lakes in NJ used to freeze over before Thanksgiving. That was when they cut the ice for the ice houses. When I was a boy, we used to ice skate on the lakes before Christmas. Now the lakes do not freeze over until mid January. I believe in global warming and all the science points to this. Thanks for reading this. John

The Maine GOP platform enacted May 10 contains the plank:

"g. Defeat Cap and Trade, investigate collusion between government and industry in the global warming myth, and prosecute any illegal collusion."

The platform is said to have come from the tea party, which doesn't want to believe in global warming. Neither do I, but unfortunately it is reality.

So who gave Cuccinelli the idea? Who is funding the Tea Party?

Keep in mind what happened to the emails that were purloined from East Anglia. Twi and three word phrases taken out of context were used to cast doubt on all climate research.

If Cuccinelli gets hold of 6 years of emails, will he pipe them to professional deniers who will quote-mine them for something to smear climate scientists with? I'll bet!

There is an orchestrated campaign to strangle the messengers so that fossil fuel owners can continue to fry our planet.

It is embarrassing that UVA would even consider caving into this type of bullying. Cuccinelli's demands are chilling, and reminiscent of McCarthy era tactics.

@UVA - "One other comment I would like to make before I sign off is that the majority of these responses seem a bit naive as if they were written in blacksburg."

I live in Charlotesville. Change your user name - you're an embarrassment to the U.

I've been wanting to chime in on this issue for some time. People like "UVa" and "Can't Be True" threaten to drive scientists not just out of Virginia, but outside the entire country.

Dr. Mann's research has already been vindicated time and time again in the scientific literature using independent techniques. However, let's assume for the moment that his research was proven to be invalid. In that case Cucclinelli's crusade would still be without merit.

Most scientific research will inevitably be proven wrong. Not in an absolute or moral sense, but in the sense of better methods or better evidence will surface that shows that previous research was an incomplete picture. There is no shame or fraud in making an attempt to analyze data in a novel way, that is in fact the entire point of research. Making mistakes is not fraud, as the understanding of those mistakes is what allows science to move forward.

If Mr. Cuccinelli wants to make sure the money didn't get funneled off to an unnumbered Swiss bank account, fine. Looking over the financial records of state institutions is well within the jurisdiction of the Attorney General's office, but that's not what Cuccinelli is investigating. Instead he has asked for private correspondence between Dr. Mann and other scientists as well as documents pertaining to the actual research. In other words, he wants to prove that the research itself was fraudulent.

And that is by definition a witch hunt. Research that is later shown to be invalid is not fraud*, it's research! Mr. Cucinelli wishes to charge Dr. Mann with doing research. This action is why academic freedom is threatened. Scientists need to be able to conduct research without fear of being called a fraud merely for being wrong.

Dr. Mann has consistently been proven right, but even if that were not the case, invalid or incomplete research should never be treated as fraud.

*Some research is fraud, but no politician or attorney will ever uncover it. The only way to have fraudulent research is when other scientists are unable to repoduce the results using the exact same method (i.e. a researcher simply made up data). If a researcher uses a method which is later shown to be dubious, but fully documents that method so that other scientists can reproduce it, it is not fraud, just bad research.

Why does North Kakalaki get all the best candidates? Tim D'Annunzio Bring him to Virginia!

And this is how to raise campaign money!
"Free Gun Giveaway" Yeehaw.......


You are an embarrassment to the whole of great country,
I would like for you to ask yourself if you truly believe this country is heading in the right direction under this anti-american administration.

I would like for you to ask yourself if you truly believe this country is heading in the right direction ....


UVA would not have gotten into UVA with the level of writing skill he/she demonstrates.

UVA, what evidence can you site that suggests the climate change is not occuring? And by evidence I mean not "Obama-worshipping communist scientists have an elaborate conspiracy to ruin private enterprise and take away your heat." Just because there could be evidence that a scientist did not act 100% forthrightly is separate from whether or not climate change is real.

This is the issue at hand. Cuccinelli appears to using public money for a certain political agenda rather than furthering the public good. If climate change was still an open question AND you had scientists acting goofy, there might be a story.

Pharmaceutical companies don't report all or fudge some of their science, but I still believe that (most) drugs developed by these less than 100% forthright companies are effacacious and useful.

The truth is independent of the messenger.

UVA, please ask yourself whether or not, regarding this legal action, you think Cuccinelli's primary motivation and concern is fighting fraud. If the answer is "no" (which I think is pretty clearly the case), then what motivates him?
It has to be either attacking his politically foes or furthering his conservative bona fides. That use (abuse?) of office ought to be unsettling, regardless of whether or not you think the country is heading the right direction.

wellthen-I am thinking for myself. What do you mean look at the past million years? Wasn't the earth created 6,000 years ago?

Okay so it's really a fraud investigation... The fraud then hinges on Mann who might have "fraudulently received up to $500,000 in state grants by falsifying his data to gloomily portray global warming."

But the AG's office makes a problem for itself: ââ?¬Å?This is a fraud investigation, and the attorney general’s office is not investigating Dr. Mann’s scientific conclusions,” the statement reads. The AG's office is derelict in its duty if it does not investigate Mann's conclusions. If Mann used false data then his conclusions must be false (or just coincidentally true). The AG office's needs to investigate the scientific conclusions in order to judge the fraud-ness of the data, just as it must investigate the fraud-ness of the data to judge the conclusions.

I know we'll never agree, but the people who are upset by the AG's actions are upset because a known climate change doubter is claiming an interest strictly in fraud and no interest in the big idea that he's against.

Look, I don't like warm beer, but I would be crazy to go to the beer seller and ask to see the fridge temperature records for the last month and claim I’m only concerned he’s keeping false records.

I absolutely love the VA AG!!!

wellthen, there's really no contradiction here. No one opposes holding cheats and frauds accountable. And nobody finds it appalling to use public money to verify that public money is being spent appropriately.

What's disturbing is the AG's use of his public office for a political endeavor masquerading as the good fight against fraud. Do you really think it's not?

I suppose the more gullible among us could see this as a straight-ahead business-as-usual investigation, but they probably are simply happy to stick it to the AGW crowd, regardless of the means.

If I were accused of fraud I would release EVERYTHING, not only to the AG but to the public. I would build a website and let THE WORLD see EVERYTHING.

If the AG is wrong he will look the fool.

Release everything. Let the sunshine.

Revenge of the malicious and ignorant halfwits. Virginia now has the leadership it deserves. Its poorly educated and superstitious (aka religious) populace is now well represented in government by fairly elected officials.