UVA Defends Against Ken Cuccinelli Attacks On Climate Science and Academic Freedom

Brendan DeMelle DeSmog
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The University of Virginia has filed two new responses in its ongoing court battle fending off Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s politically-motivated witch hunt against climate scientist Michael Mann.  UVA correctly alerts the court that crazy Cuccinelli’s ‘investigation’ is “an unprecedented and improper governmental intrusion into ongoing scientific research” [PDF of filing].

Cuccinelli’s relentless campaign to waste Virginia taxpayer money attacking Mann continues, despite a total lack of evidence of any wrongdoing on UVA’s or Mann’s part. Instead the row hinges entirely on Cuccinelli’s zeal to pollute public discourse with his own climate denial, clogging the courts with a thinly veiled attack on academic freedom that the Washington Post labeled “a pernicious fishing expedition.”  

UVA argues that Cuccinelli’s latest demand for documents related to Mann’s research repeats the exact same arguments that Albemarle County Circuit Court Judge Paul Peatross rejected in August.  Cuccinelli merely recycled his previous non-starter of a complaint in an ongoing effort to woo the Tea Party and stoke the fire for his ambitions to run for higher office.

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCSexamined Cuccinelli’s original arguments and confirms they have been recycled again to further harass Mann and his colleagues.

“Scientists are proud of UVA for standing up to this relentless rubbish,” said Francesca Grifo, director of UCS’s Scientific Integrity Program. “This investigation has never been about fraud or the facts. Cuccinelli is abusing his power to fight a public relations war against scientific findings.”


UVA also issued a second filing [PDF] asking the county court to suspend the case while the Virginia Supreme Court resolves an appeal Cuccinelli filed seeking to overturn the August ruling rejecting his investigation on the basis that it “lacked an objective basis.” The university correctly suggests that putting the case on hold would save the court system time and money because the cases involve the same parties and the same arguments. UVA already has spent $350,000 fighting Cuccinelli’s investigation. 

UVA realizes more than anyone – save perhaps Michael Mann – what a waste of time and resources this investigation has become,” Grifo said. “It’s ironic that Ken Cuccinelli, who so vociferously opposes increased government spending, can waste taxpayer money with an entirely gratuitous investigation.”

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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