Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II is demanding that the University of Virginia turn over a broad range of documents from a former professor to determine whether he defrauded taxpayers as he sought grants for global warming research.Cuccinelli's short tenure has included several politically-motivated suits and investigations, including suits against the Environmental Protection Agency over its consideration of greenhouse gas regulations and against the new federal health insurance reforms. These and other misguided stunts make him a darling of the radical right, though his quixotic efforts should earn him the scorn of Virginia taxpayers.
The civil investigative demand asks for all data and materials presented by former professor Michael Mann when he applied for five research grants from the university. It also gives the school until May 27 to produce all correspondence or e-mails between Mann and 39 other scientists since 1999.
The investigation of Professor Mann is harrassment, pure and simple. Professor Mann is a respected and accomplished researcher. However, Mann's research a decade ago on the "hockey stick" contributed to the findings U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and put him in the crosshairs for climate change skeptics. Mann's methods and results have been disputed, but the general findings have ultimately been upheld.
Mann has previously been subject to right-wing political scrutiny.
The message from these inquisitions is clear. Researchers, who accept federal funds or work at state-funded institutions, publish politically inconvenient results at their own risk.