DeSmog

Cuccinelli Revives Witch Hunt Against Michael Mann and Climate Science

Brendan DeMelle DeSmog
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Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has revived his witch hunt against prominent climate scientist Michael Mann, recycling pieces of his earlier botched subpoena into a new Civil Investigative Demand aimed at Mann and the University of Virginia. Cuccinelli’s previous witch hunt was blocked by Albemarle County Circuit Court Judge Paul Peatross, who ruled that Cuccinelli lacked “an objective basis” for his subpoena, which The Washington Post editors noted “put a damper on a pernicious fishing expedition.”

But Cuccinelli has re-strung the same stale Climategate bait on his fishing pole, “extending his assault on academic freedom” as expected. Oh, and he’s going to appeal Judge Peatross’s ruling, in a remarkable display of hubris that is sure to embarrass Virginia yet again.

In his latest political attack on climate science, Cuccinelli demands seven years’ worth of Dr. Mann’s emails, documents and just about every other shred of paper and bytes related to one state grant Mann received during his tenure at UVA. Cuccinelli wants to see every email Mann exchanged with a list of 39 other scientists, as well as Mann’s communications with his secretaries and research associates, related to the state grant. Cuccinelli only stripped his inappropriate request for documents related to federal grants after Judge Peatross smacked down that trolling effort, although he vows to appeal to re-open that garbage can.

Since his first witch hunt lacked an “objective basis,” Cuccinelli had to attempt to don his totally unqualified, non-scientific “expert” cap in the new complaint. He rehashes several totally-debunked elements of the “Climateagate” non-scandal, and continues his politically-motivated attack on climate science by suggesting that Mann “should have known” the information he produced was “false.” 

In a shockingly poor attempt to support his allegations of Mann’s alleged fraud, Professor General Cuccinelli refers to notorious oil-industry-affiliated climate skeptics, Willie Soon, Sallie Baliunas, Ross McKitrick and Steve McIntyre, all loud-mouthed critics of Mann’s hockey stick graph and other work.  But in so doing, Cuccinelli ignores the fact that the Soon-Baliunas-McKitrick-McIntyre network’s repeated attempts to slander Mann’s work have all been thoroughly debunked. Given their extensive ties to Koch- and Exxon-funded industry front groups, perhaps the A.G. “should have known” that this gaggle of ‘experts’ are not credible.   

The university is compelled to respond to Cuccinelli by October 29th.

There will no doubt be plenty of legal wrangling in the courts now that Cuccinelli has doubled down.

Cuccinelli seems hell-bent on ensuring plenty of Virginia taxpayer dollars are wasted in his continued assault on science and reason.

Dr. Mann, who is now employed by Penn State University, told the Washington Post: “I find it extremely disturbing that Mr. Cuccinelli has sought to continue to abuse his power as the attorney general of Virginia in this way, in the process smearing the University of Virginia and me and other climate scientists,” Mann said. “The people of Virginia need to be extremely disturbed that he is using their tax dollars to pursue this partisan witch hunt.”

Brendan DeMelle DeSmog
Brendan is Executive Director of DeSmog. He is also a freelance writer and researcher specializing in media, politics, climate change and energy. His work has appeared in Vanity Fair, The Huffington Post, Grist, The Washington Times and other outlets.

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