A Grandstanding Attorney General

Why Ken Cuccinelli should drop his misguided case against climatologist Michael Mann

What does Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli hope to find in the files from climatologist Michael Mann’s tenure at the University of Virginia? Presumably something subtle, such as an e-mail from Mann reading, “I can’t believe Virginia was dumb enough to give me state money on the basis of that pack of lies I wrote about global warming.”

It’s doubtful Mann’s files contain such a smoking gun. And from a legal standpoint, the hunt for one reveals the weakness in Cuccinelli’s case.

Recently the ACLU of Virginia and three other groups filed an amicus brief in the case. In it, they reiterate a point made by the Albemarle, Virginia judge who first turned down Cuccinelli’s request for Mann’s papers: “The court noted that the Attorney General’s own counsel could not clearly identify the ‘nature of the conduct constituting the alleged violation’ ” of the Fraud Against Taxpayers Act. In short, Cuccinelli has not said how Mann supposedly broke the law.

This is no minor detail. It’s like accusing someone of murder, and then trying to find a corpse. Or asking the cop who pulls you over “What’d I do wrong, officer?” and hearing him reply, “I dunno yet. Pop the trunk and let me have a look inside, would ya?”

Some of those who support the AG’s demand reason as follows: (1) Mann’s scientific conclusions have been questioned. (2) Mann took state money. (3) Therefore, the state may investigate Mann’s work. The skeptics seem to hope Cuccinelli will audit Mann’s entire body of work and find it flawed, thereby calling the whole theory of global warming into doubt. But the AG is not empowered to do anything like that; he is not a grand inquisitor putting all of climate science on trial. His job is to enforce the law. To that end, he should have some concrete grounds for thinking the law has been broken. Cuccinelli doesn’t.

Indeed, the AG forthrightly acknowledges that is why he has issued a Civil Investigative Demand for Mann’s papers in the first place: He wants to see if any grounds exist to bring charges. But this is like asking for a search warrant without probable cause, just on the off chance that something might turn up. That might be kosher in totalitarian states and Latin American juntas. In the U.S., the authorities are supposed to have more to go on than the fact that they don’t like the cut of somebody’s jib.

Cuccinelli’s defenders are right when they point out that waving the banner of “academic freedom” does not give professors at public universities blanket immunity. But that is a straw man. Nobody has said it does. And if Cuccinelli had reason to think Mann had spent his grant money on fast cars and loose women rather than on the research he was paid to do, then nobody would object to his investigation. That is precisely the sort of activity the Fraud Against Taxpayers Act is supposed to stop.

Instead, the AG is employing a very expansive interpretation of FATA in order to investigate something far beyond his bailiwick. As noted before in this space, that is not a position gracefully adopted by an attorney general who, in his lawsuit challenging ObamaCare’s individual mandate, quite rightly insists on a strict interpretation of the Commerce Clause.

Even some of Mann’s harshest critics take issue with Cuccinelli’s fishing expedition. Take Ross McKitrick and Stephen McIntyre, two well-known climate-change skeptics. McIntyre, a mathematician who edits the Climate Audit blog, said last year that “people are far too quick to yell fraud at the other side. I think such language is both selfish and counterproductive.” McKitrick, a Canadian economist who co-authored a critique of Mann’s hockey-stick graph along with McIntyre, says of Cuccinelli: “I have yet to see any credible basis for his inquiry.”

It is dismaying to watch conservatives, who ought to know better, willfully ignore the bigger question at stake. Perhaps an analogy might help. As legal philosopher H.L.A. Hart emphasized, there are two kinds of rules: Primary rules, which set boundaries for conduct, and secondary rules, which determine who gets to write the primary rules. A primary rule might say, “Men shall not wear hats in church.” A secondary rule could stipulate that rules about hats in church should be made by churches, not by Congress. So while a rule against hats in church might be a good idea, having Congress pass a law on the matter would not. What’s more, it would be a great mistake for church members to get so excited about the impropriety of church hat-wearing that they ran to Congress seeking a federal ban on the practice.

Global-warming skeptics are doing something just like that. They are so eager to see climate alarmists impugned that they don’t care who does it. But if they prevail in this star-chamber case, then they will have won what they profess to abhor: an increase in government’s scope.

A. Barton Hinkle is a columnist at the Richmond Times-Dispatch. This article originally appeared at the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

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  • ||

    I fully understand and support the legal and moral principle that an AG shouldn't be able to subpoena something without stating why. Reasons should be obvious.

    However, the "government scope" train left the station a long time ago. The real issue is that the state of Virginia gave him money at all, in the first place. Stop doing that, and the other problem wouldn't exist. As long as that continues, the "government scope" will still be as great. The AG has to name the accusation, but apart from this procedural requirement, the government has all the excess power and all of the scope in question, already.

  • Doc S||

    "And if Cuccinelli had reason to think Mann had spent his grant money on fast cars and loose women rather than on the research he was paid to do,"

    God I've blwon many a NSF and DOE grant on this stuff. And tractor trailers full of coke.
    Good luck trying to use your govt grant funding for anything other than what you proposed on you budget (of which 40% is grad student funding and 51% is university overhead.)

  • ||

    A non-sequitur, if you really meant to reply to my post.

    That said, "university overhead" is not as far from loose women and fast cars as university administrators might claim.

  • Bucky||

    they don't call it "happy valley" for nothing...

  • Vinny||

    "(1) Mann’s scientific conclusions have been questioned. (2) Mann took state money. (3) Therefore, the state may investigate Mann’s work"

    Sounds good to me. I don't hide behind the constitution when my employer reviews my work for quality.

  • ||

    sloppy workmanship or even a possible inaccurate conclusion may be cause for firing but not for a criminal investigation. How would you like it if your boss decided to call the cops if you made a mistake instead of just reprimanding or firing you? by the way I'm one who believed in warming just not man made warming although neither may be happening go figure.

  • ||

    There's the problem with taking money from taxpayers and giving it to people who do research. There is some accountability for extreme instances of theft (per Doc S above), but there really can't be real accountability for the specific work done. That's the nature of research, more than anything. It's quite different from, say, taking tax money and using it to pay people for building a freeway. Yet, taxpayers deserve accountability, at the very least.

    If all grants came from private foundations, the problem wouldn't exist.

  • Vinny||

    You make it sound like Mann made a miscalculation. Mann has perpetuated a fraud against the taxpayers so that he may continue to receive government funding. Considering that he is utilizing the force of the state to extract money from me to support his garbage, he should be criminally liable for his fraudulent research. I'm not saying he should be incarcerated for 10+ years; a couple of years and a hefty fine would suffice.

    As mentioned by others, this problem would not exist as long as the state didn't contribute to research. Private charities would be far more selective.

  • ||

    Reasons should be obvious.
    The reasons ARE obvious if you've followed the politicized AGW debate. Mann is the originator of the "hocky stick" curve showing a fast increasing global temperature. The IPCC picked his work up and it became the poster graph for AGW. The momentum for carbon taxes, huge increases in government control of industry and our private lives was given a huge boost by his work. It was later found that his statistics were wrong, his data was cherry picked and his presentations purposely skewed (hide the decline!) to get the reactions which launched an apocalyptic mania.

    If someone in finance purpose perpetrates a fraud to make money they should be brought to task. If someone in science perpetrates a fraud for fame, politics or continued government funding the same applies.

  • ||

    Isn't Mann suing Tim Ball because Ball said Mann is a fraud when Mann wouldn't release the data used to create the "hockey stick" graph?
    Sauce for the goose...

  • ||

    It's hard to prove that Mann is a fraud vs. simply a remarkably incompetent slob and an asshole (all of which were shown clearly by the hockey-stick episode). I suppose that a grant proposal in which Mann presented himself as competent and meticulous could be fraudulent, but one would have to prove that he KNEW that he was incompetent and sloppy. That would be very difficult to prove, I would think.

  • ||

    Disclaimer: the above is merely my opinion.

  • ||

    Isn't Mann suing Tim Ball Isn't Mann suing Tim Ball

    Suing ≠ criminal case by the AG.

    It would be perfectly conscionable for the state to sue a recipient over how their money was used [assuming it violated a contract or was fraudulent]. When you sue, you then use discovery to collect most of your evidence.

    Losing money in civil court ≠ losing your freedom in prison

    This isn't a goose and gander issue.

  • ||

    Paraphrase of Michael Mann I heard on a podcast: "There shouldn't be any politics attached to the money the government gives me."

  • NPR||

    This.

  • NEA grantee||

    Hear! Hear!

  • ||

    I'm not sure Mann realizes how right he is, or that the politics shouldn't be attached to that money by him, either.

  • ||

    Without politics, there would BE no taxpayer-funded grant money (which would be fine with me).

  • ||

    Interesting...

    As much as politics are generally disliked, politics are a form that accountability takes in a democratic system. So he's really saying that he should damn well get a chunk of change with no strings attached.

    Again, the AG is wrong, here, and what he's doing threatens our liberties. However, the solution is to quit taking taxpayers' money and doling it out to people who aren't doing a specific job, with strict accountability. Let grant money come from private sources, and this problem goes away.

  • ||

    nor should there be any money attached to the politics.

  • ||

    No doubt Cuccineli has presidential aspirations. This case goes nowhere and I suspect he knows it. But if there's anyone who gets some abuse at the hands of a crass political play, it's Michael Mann.

  • Nowatta Meen||

    No doubt Cuccineli has presidential aspirations.

    Then he'd better change his name now.

  • Arnold Schwarzenegger||

    no, I don't

  • Jim||

    I read an interesting argument about something similiar to this on Mises.org once. It was making a libertarian case for universities to be able to use race in their admissions process.

    Basically the argument went, when the board of trustees is set up to run a university, it's understood and accepted by both the state and the populace that the university will conduct it's own affairs as it sees fit. If the state objects, then the proper response is to cut off the funding, or (as mentioned in the article) have specific evidence of malfeasance. It is NOT the role of the state to pick out those with whom it may disagree after the fact, then go over their records with a fine-tooth comb trying to find something dubious on which to hang a prosecution, particularly since most universities also take in a great deal of money from admissions and athletics and thus are not 100% taxpayer creatures.

    I believe the analogy he used was any business or industry which received TARP or bailout funds of any kind (which would be a large number of businesses). Most people would not want the gov't to have the authority to pour through every employees email simply because the business they work for took money from the gov't.

    I'm not saying I agree with that analysis, but it was a different way of looking at it that is usually presented.

  • DJF||

    """"I believe the analogy he used was any business or industry which received TARP or bailout funds of any kind (which would be a large number of businesses). Most people would not want the gov't to have the authority to pour through every employees email simply because the business they work for took money from the gov't.""

    Sorry, I think that every company which took TARP money should be required to open all books and documents. If they don't want to then they should not take the money. And please nobody say that they were forced to take TARP money, nobody put a gun against their heads.

  • Cyto||

    Actually, I think there were quite a few guns pointed at heads during that fiasco.

  • DJF||

    Really please tell

    And it does not count if the Treasury tells a “too big to fail bank” that they won’t get special low interest loans or be invited to special meetings. Those are not guns, those are bribes, there is a difference.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    When do incentives and benefits given to your competitor become guns and not bribes with respect to being able to compete if you don't take them as well?

  • DJF||

    No, its still a bribe, no one is required to be a “too big to fail banker”, they can always get another job in an honest industry.

  • James J.B.||

    Um...I want those banks, golman &sux;, the rest of the lot strung up, don't care how. If we find a misspelled word, I want heads to roll. Don't speak for me, comrade.

  • SIV||

    IIRC some of those "the government forced us to take the money" banks were hitting up the Fed discount window hard at the time(as unwillingly revealed later)

  • ||

    I can't disagree. But again, the problem was the TARP to begin with. Eliminate that, and the rest of the problem goes away.

  • DJF||

    """"But this is like asking for a search warrant without probable cause"''

    No, this is investigating where taxpayer money is being used. The government does not need a search warrant to investigate government property. If you are driving a government vehicle the government does not need a search warrant.

    “””””And if Cuccinelli had reason to think Mann had spent his grant money on fast cars and loose women rather than on the research he was paid to do, then nobody would object to his investigation. “”””’

    But fraud does not just include fast cars or loose women, if the government thought that the garbage man was not doing his round properly they would, just like any other employer be allowed to investigate if the job was being done to specifications. They could demand any files or recordings of the garbage man and see if he is improperly conducting the job he is being paid for. There is no privacy when it comes to the job you are being paid to do. If you want to conduct climate research or pick up garbage then don’t have someone else pay since they get to determine whether the job is being done properly

  • Jim||

    You keep referring to the university as "gov't property", as if it's the Pentagon. The university also takes in a great deal of money from tuition and athletics, and, as pointed out above, has a board of trustees with regents who are responsible for tending to the affairs of the university.

    If there was a specific allegation of fraud, then it would be different. But this is clearly just a fishing expedition along the lines of, "I don't like the conclusion you reached, so I'm going to make your life difficult."

    I believe the correct response would be to direct the university to investigate, and submit the research for peer review. If they find something irregular, then you have something specific to begin an investigation over.

    SLD: gov't money shouldn't be used in higher education to begin with.

  • DJF||

    “””SLD: gov't money shouldn't be used in higher education to begin with.””’

    And this is a great way to get the taxpayers money out. Make them show their work. Just like anyone else who is giving taxpayer money to perform a job. There is nothing special here, just an investigation if the garbage man is picking up all the trash as he is suppose to. If Mann can show he did the work, then fine, if he can’t, he gets thrown in jail for fraud. If he wants to spout off about something and does not want to show his work, then get someone beside the taxpayer to pay for it.

    As long as you give out free taxpayer money and don't require proof of job done properly then you will never get these people off the taxpayers tit.

  • DJF||

    “””You keep referring to the university as "gov't property", as if it's the Pentagon.”””

    Its taxpayer money, therefore that money is taxpayer property. If you don’t like it, don’t take the money.

  • James J.B.||

    Amen.

  • ||

    Work that is not "done to specifications" isn't "fraud."

    Blatantly wrong science from a duly-credentialed professional isn't "fraud," either.

    Fraud means that the accused has to pass off information as true that he either:

    (1) knows is false or

    (2) knows that he does not know whether it is true or false.

    The AG does not have so much as a scintilla of a reason to believe that this legal standard might be satisfied in this case. No matter how grave the errors he might uncover in the scientific analysis, he cannot establish the "scienter" (google it) for a fraud suit.

  • DJF||

    That is why the AG needs to investigate where taxpayer money was used, to get the facts .

    If you are claiming that people who take taxpayer money to perform a job cannot be investigated by the government then you are against accountability.

    This is not about privacy, privacy went out the window when the taxpayer money was taken at the point of a gun and given to this guy to perform a job.

    “””Blatantly wrong science from a duly-credentialed professional isn't "fraud," either””’

    So its just incompetence and you are claiming that incompetence cannot be investigated if it involves taxpayer money?

  • ||

    "So its just incompetence and you are claiming that incompetence cannot be investigated if it involves taxpayer money?"

    *******

    Not as "fraud," no. If there is some "incompetence" law for taxpayer funds, he could use that. But if it's "fraud" with taxpayer funds, he's got nothing to go on.

    (Ironically, the AG himself might be violating the taxpayer fraud law by wasting tax money on an investigation that he knows is not supported by reasonable suspicion.)

  • DJF||

    But you yourself say that this person is “duly-credentialed professional” and has “grave” errors in his work. So somewhere there is fraud or incompetence, either in the people who gave this Mann his credentials, or in Mann himself.

    So I guess Mann can defend himself against charges of fraud by claiming incompetence. Either way, the public finds out what its money was used for. And since its the taxpayers money they have the right to find out.

  • ||

    I don't even see the indicia of incompetence or of errors, grave or otherwise. I was just assuming those things for the sake of argument, purely hypothetically.

    The fraud law is a vehicle for the AG to investigate fraud. The fraud law is not a vehicle for the AG to investigate incompetence. The taxpayers can "find out" about incompetence by whatever other legitimate means are available. The taxpayers have no entitlement to find out about incompetence by way of a renegade and unsubstantiated fraud investigation by an AG.

    There has been no discussion of Mann being improperly credentialed. Now you're just pulling stuff out of your *

  • Engineer||

    Incompetence can be fraud if the money was received in the first place based on a claim of being a competent expert.

  • ||

    No. Wrong. Maybe you mean a credentialed expert? There is no allegation of falsified credentials in this case.

  • Jim||

    The problem is, forgive the expression, but this isn't an exact science. Sincere, intelligent researchers disagree about these matters. The AG isn't investigating fraud or shoddy work, because he wasn't given a reason to believe that that was the case here. He's going after someone purely for political red meat.

    Besides, is the AG a scientist? He's going to turn the research over to other gov't scientists, who may disagree with it. There is not an exact standard for methodology, as long as knowingly false information wasn't used. Researchers use different metrics all the time that other researchers disagree with. I say again; unless there's a specific accusation to be made here, then the AG has no business being involved. He prosecutes crimes. There is no crime (that is known) yet. An accountability board should be set up by the university, and only then, if evidence of fraud is found, should the AG step in. This isn't about taxpayers getting an audit for their money; it's political theater.

    If you make a mistake at work, is it the job of your businesses attorneys to check your work? Or does your boss check it, and THEN refer it to the attorneys if he finds something terribly wrong? You keep saying we're arguing against accountability, but that's a straw man. We're arguing against the criminal justice system getting involved when there's not even evidence of a crime. By all means, set up some kind of oversight board. But the AG needs to stay the hell out of it until a crime is uncovered.

  • DJF||

    So you want the University to investigate itself?

    That usually does not work out well, just look at when the police investigate itself, or the garbage department or the politicians.

    Once again, if you want privacy in your work, then don’t take the taxpayers money. I find it strange that so many people here think that the use of the taxpayers money is not open to investigation at any time. If the AG was investigating the police would you object, if he was investigating the garbage department would you object?

  • Jim||

    So you want the University to investigate itself?

    Many industries do this. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. If you're that worried about it, then set up an oversight panel which includes some members of the Virginia legislature, or something like that, along with the university regents. The AG is not equipped to launch random investigations of every entity which accepts gov't money, so it's objectionable when he chooses to use his limited resources to pursue a purely political vendetta. It is a waste of taxpayer dollars.

    I find it strange that so many people here think that the use of the taxpayers money is not open to investigation at any time.

    Where did anyone say that? If there's a crime, there should be an investigation. It is NOT, however, the AGs job to go on fishing expeditions for political purposes in order to try and find crime. You keep arguing against a straw man; you equate our not wanting the criminal justice dept. to go on a fishing expedition with being in favor of no oversight of anything ever. That's stupid and you know it.

    If the AG was investigating the police would you object, if he was investigating the garbage department would you object?

    If there were no allegations of criminal misconduct, then yes, I absolutely would object to the AG using my stolen tax money (which you attest to below) to try and score political points.

  • ||

    Blatantly wrong science from a duly-credentialed professional isn't "fraud," either

    It certainly can be, especially if its perpetrated to induce further grants or other benefits for the scientist.

  • ||

    No. Only if it was so perpetrated by some one who knew the science was false, or knew that he did not know whether the science was false. Bias, motives and incentives don't make for fraud. Knowledge about falsity makes for fraud.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Mann no doubt believes the bullshit taxpayers are paying him to shovel. That money is going to help save the world.

  • Geoff||

    No doubt this AG was inspired by recent FOIA requests for email by faculty at my university dealing with anti-union sentiment in Wisconsin. I blogged about the lack of privacy of one's email in the blog attached to my name, but, at the same time, I must admit this guy is really pushing the envelope.
    Email is not private, especially email on a university system, but this kind of fishing expedition only annoys people, and confirms liberals' views that conservatives will use any excuse to hassle university faculty.
    Besides, this isn't going to find anything useful anyway, as Hinkle points out.

  • Scruffy Nerd Herder||

    Kenny boy has been chasing this goose for quite a while now, well before the Wisconsin stuff. He's a grandstander, like most AGs.

  • Bucky||

    sorry Hinkle, if Global Warmers think that the Earth is heating up just wait until the RGGI shit starts to hit people's pockets...
    Delaware and PA figured it out...
    wattsupwiththat.com/.../rggi-news-de-wants-out-pa-doesnt-want-in-nh-nj-making-progress/

  • Ben Kalafut||

    Translating that from newspeak: by "skeptics" he means "denialists" and by "alarmists" he means "mainstream scientists doing normal science".

  • tarran||

    I thought hiding data that contradicts one's theories was "post-normal" science not normal science.

  • ||

    "Mainstream science" is what tells us that Mann is full of it. The data does NOT support the hockey stick graph. Obviously Mann fudged the data and cheated. His work is NOT science, it is propaganda intended to induce gov't to give creeps like Mann more money.

  • Middle Age Crazy||

    I'm sorry, I thought somebody said "Grandstanding Vagina Attorney", so I clicked through. I'll just leave now.

  • Ben Kalafut||

    But more to the point:

    (1) There once was a reason to believe that Michael Mann put out a bad paper. Not a "bad paper" as in he engaged in cherry-picking or fakery but "bad paper" as in subtly methodologically bad. That's no longer the case.

    (2) Science has since moved on, the paper that was in question is no longer state of the art.

    (3) Mann has become a sort of folk-demon for the birtheresque idiots who call themselves "skeptics". They have no evidence that he engaged in wrongdoing, yet they all believe it and argue it with others. And when pressed for evidence, they don't present it.

    (4) The amount of attention denialists give to paleoclimate is unseemly and hints at their lack of bona-fides. It isn't as important as they make it out to be--the case could be made for AGW omitting all reference to paleoclimate work--and that they don't understand that shows that the so-called "skeptics" don't read science.

    (5) So what is this about then? Not science, nor investigation of anything that would lead a reasonable person to suspect that there was fraud done on the taxpayer dime, but rather the satisfaction of those birther-style idiots. Cuccinelli is spending the taxpayer dime to do politics.

    (6) It's also possible that he's doing this to actively participate in the denialist cause. They have no scientific case, but if they can create an aura of doubt around a scientist they can convince people not to listen to scientists. So his dragging Mann through the mud may be a deliberate tactic in the fight to cause the public to unreasonably doubt science, earn short-term profits, and do nothing about global warming until a later date.

  • Josh M||

    "the case could be made for AGW omitting all reference to paleoclimate work"

    I wouldn't take a case for global climate change very seriously if it only involved 100 or so years of data.

  • Josh M||

    "the case could be made for AGW omitting all reference to paleoclimate work"

    I wouldn't take a case for global climate change very seriously if it only involved 100 or so years of data.

  • The Derider||

    Fortunately your incredulity has no bearing on which scientific theories are considered valid.

  • ||

    "birtheresque idiots"?
    no, sport, the idiots are those who continue to pretend that CO2 is a pollutant and that man's CO2 is causing climate change.
    science tells us both statements are lies.
    you idiot.

  • Cytotoxic||

    The science has moved on = hockey stick was bullshit based on terrible methodology and I don't want to admit it.

  • Chad||

    If any of you claimed the mortgage deduction, you are using government money. We now have the right to probe you in any way we wish, right?

  • DJF||

    No, all money does not belong to the government, so money that the taxpayer keeps is not government money. If you think that it is government money then you think that the work done by you is the governments as well and that you belong to the government.

    Do you think that the government owns you and your work? Are you a government slave? Do you call the government master?

  • CHAD||

    OH YES YES AND YES

  • John Dutton Frost||

    Hinkle, you controversial won't-fit-in-this-pigeonhole-blue/red-paradigm magnificent bastard!

  • Wind Rider||

    Looked at from another perspective, the case can be made that Cucinelli has the prerogative to investigate Professor Mann's activities while working under state grant - which, is in effect, a contract entered into by the Professor, to perform a certain task. Is it not the right of government to audit its willing contractors?

  • MNG||

    "Is it not the right of government to audit its willing contractors?"

    I'm actually curious, if my firm takes a government contract does that give the AG of the government the right to read the email of the firm's employees? Just the employees that worked on the grant? Everyone, even the guy in the mailroom who may have shuffled papers around on the subject?

  • ||

    The government has the right to conduct an audit (it'll be there in the grant somewhere, where you agreed to give them access). I doubt it extends to activities totally unrelated to the grant, but you would have a hard time withholding email traffic from people being paid out of the grant.

    All of which strikes me as being not unreasonable.

  • ||

    Depends on who owns the equipment. If Uncle Sam owns the machines, they can go in and take what they want, when they want at any time they want. You have no expectation of privacy on any government machine. If Lockheed is performing under a contract in which US Gov owns the machines, then case closed, the communications are government property.

    If it is a Lockheed machine, it is less clear, but your email is still not "private", it is the property of Lockheed. I would be more comfortable if big defense contractors (or any contractor) had to offer up this information as part of the contracting process, but being a progressive, it probably doesn't bother you as much as long as it benefits "the right people".

    That being said, I would guess that the UVa owns the machines through some form of strings free grant in which case Cucinelli is just grandstanding and probably can't touch Mann without UVa's help unless he can much more clearly demonstrate cause. The only way he is going to get UVa help is if he has a credible threat of defunding them and he doesn't have that sort of political Mojo.

  • MNG||

    Thanks for the answer (despite your snarky assumption about 'progressives' which, considering that the progressive movement had its roots and strongest effect in 'good government' anti-corruption pushes is hilarious)

  • ||

    Cucinelli is just following in the same Bizarro-Jeffersonian intellectual tradition as the late Sen. William Scott and will no doubt eventually come to enjoy the same sort of reputation.

  • ||

    Seems to me that if the taxpayers paid for it then the taxpayers should be able to see it. All of it (unless it involves national security). I would like to see a requirement that if you get a government grant you have to publish everything you do on the internet so that any qualified scientist can falsify your work. That would go along with a law prohibiting anyone who gets a gov't grant is prohibited from making campaign contributions to any politicians.

  • MNG||

    Is this for all government contractors? So all the email of Lockheed Martin employees should be made public because they took government contracts? Should their subcontractors have to make their employee's emails public as well? How about the laundrymat where the subcontractor gets their suits pressed that they wear to work while working on the contract?

  • ||

    You can push it to a point of absurdity if you want but it doesn't change the fact the the taxpayers are entitled to see what their money pays for. When I worked for a gov't contractor all of our work related e-mails were subject to inspection by the gov't auditors. The laundromat would not be considered work related. Neither would an e-mail from my wife asking me to pick up some bread and milk on my way home. But, an e-mail from a supplier to the project would as would e-mails from my co-workers discussing the project.

  • Tony||

    Not a single person here making excuses for a government witch hunt into scientific scholarship is a libertarian.

  • ||

    Not a single person here arguing that people who contract with the government shouldn't be accountable for their work is a decent human being.

  • Tony||

    It's really odd how narrow the range of things is that you guys apply your radical freedom-loving to.

  • The Derider||

    You can both be right, guys!!!

  • ||

    The ClimateGate e-mails prove Mann guilty. However, I don't think a court has yet ruled whether or not their release was legal. If it was not, then Cuccinelli won't be able to use them in a criminal trial.

    So I recommend that he sue for fraud instead.

    But it's about time someone prosecuted that pack of liars before they turn the whole western world eco-fascist!

  • Tony||

    Anyone advocating for government snooping in academic or scientific work is a fascist. You are an idiot. You are a perfect illustration of how fascism and stupidity go together.

  • tarran||

    Oddly enough, the libertarian prescription of ending government funding of science would go a long way to resolving these contradictions.

    Scientists and patrons funding them could make arrangements as to who owned what bit of property and who had to disclose what contractually.

    The fascism of the current situation lies not in the government claiming oversight, but the very fact that the state is deciding which avenues of inquiry are worthy.

  • The Derider||

    If libertopian superscience does somehow prove to your satisfaction that anthropogenic global warming is occurring due to CO2 pollution, how will your minimalist state contain the externality of emissions?

  • Tony||

    But we know which avenues of inquiry would be considered worthy in the absence of government support: those that maximize profits for certain businesses.

    Real science in the absence of government support barely makes sense. Sure it's possible to politicize science. The Bushies were good at that. But it's guaranteed that for-profit interests won't place a premium on basic research or even objectivity.

  • MJ||

    "Real science in the absence of government support barely makes sense."

    It's impossible to not politicize science in the presence of government support. Politics is how government makes decisions. Government choosing what to support in an apolitical way is a non-sequitor. As someone said upthread, to demand apolitical government support is to demand the public's money without accountibility and oversight.

  • Almanian||

    A. Barton Hinkle Heimerschmidt
    His name is my name, too!
    Whenever we go out
    People always shout
    "There goes A. Barton Hinkle Heimerschmidt!"

    LALALALALALALA....

    Whew - now that's out of my system.

  • steve||

    I thought this would be closer to the top...

  • ||

    Damn you

  • chaussures puma drift cat||

    nice job!

  • dtmack||

    I would doubt that it is the AGs job to "audit" the use of State funds at a particular University. There has to be some VA agency that does have that responsibility, and if there are questions that agency, or the University itself, should be doing the auditing. If the audit uncovers evidence of criminal activity, then the information should be turned over to the AG for action. Until that happens he should stay out of it.

    I think there's a good possibility that Mann and others were not doing good science, i.e. they started with a conclusion, and found evidence to support it, rather than the other way around. It has been forever so in science, as in every other human endeavor. But we shouldn't be fishing around in an attempt to criminalize political disagreements, and when all is said and done, AGW is more of a political than a scientific issue.

    Mann has suffered, rightly or not, a loss of reputation regarding his part in the "Climategate" scandal, and some of his evidence appears to be pretty questionable as it's been more closely scrutinized. We shouldn't pile on with legal fishing expeditions. It's just flat out wrong, whether it's being done to someone you disagree with, or someone you admire.

  • BigT||

    The AG could have two legitimate reasons to investigate a contract.

    1. The costs of the contract - manhours, purchases, charge rates, etc. These kind of audits take place all the time, and do not require suspicion of wrongdoing. Most agencies have an audit group. The AG might get involved in the investigation if fraud were suspected, however, or if discrepancies are found.

    2. The data were suspected of being intentionally mis-reported. I've seen this happen and the govt agency conducts a very thorough technical review, including calling in both govt and external experts, as needed. In this case the contractors are required to produce original notebooks and correspondence - which could include emails.

    If the latter is the AG's case, then he should be able to specify the information required in enough detail for it not to be a fishing expedition - grant proposals, drafts, emails, notebooks, original data records, reports, presentations, etc.

  • Scott A. Mandia||

    A very well-done, common sense article about Cuccinelli's misguided attempt to hurt Mann's reputation and that of climate science in general.

    As I showed in Shooting the Messenger with Blanks the hockey stick-shape temperature plot that shows modern climate considerably warmer than past climate has been verified by many scientists using different methodologies (PCA, CPS, EIV, isotopic analysis, & direct T measurements).

    To believe Rep. Joe Barton and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli one must also believe in magic. Consider the odds that various international scientists using quite different data and quite different data analysis techniques can all be wrong in the same way. What are the odds that a hockey stick is always the shape of the wrong answer?

  • ||

    "many scientists" would have you believe the little ice age and the medieval optimum did not occur?
    looks like we need to investigate the whole lot of "climate experts".
    whether the CRU email release was legal or not doesn't matter.
    it revealed the sorry truth about cheatin' lyin' creeps like Mann... and the fools who side with him.

  • Cytotoxic||

    McKitrick and McIntyre would disagree. They tore that POS down years ago.

  • Bünzli||

    "A Grandstanding Attorney General"

    Seems to me like that's almost redundant.

  • Max||

    That's what you get from a Tea Bagger fag like Ken, oh what a shithole Virginia is.

  • ||

    Max, let's face it. And I'm not being funny. I mean no disrespect, but you're a cunt. You're a cunt now, and you've always been a cunt. And the only thing that's going to change is that you're going to be an even bigger cunt

  • ||

    Being familiar with some members of the Hoover Institute at Stanford (which hasn't been witch trialled by the Stanford adminstration in almost a decade, so they're totally overdue), one of the few things in which I believed that Team Red was actually better than Team Blue (as opposed to just less terrible) was academic freedom. That opinion is now under review.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Solution: The government shouldn't give away money for research.

    But other than that, as long as the state is giving away money, it should be none of their business what is done with it as long as the work gets done and it wasn't fraudulent.

  • ||

    Folks, this isn't hard.

    Imagine that a state university professor -- let's say one with a side gig at the Heritage Foundation that brings with it free conferences and junkets -- writes a paper, as part of his university work, making some contrarian and controversial claims: gun ownership reduces crime; or federal income tax cuts for the rich increase government revenues; or the minimum wage reduces employment.

    If a liberal AG in that state wanted to, he or she could find plenty of experts (including some Nobel Prize-winners) to say that those claims were 'patently false', 'nonsense', 'unsupported', etc. and could attack the statistics, the sampling, and whatnot as wholly unprofessional. The AG could also attack his think-tank affiliation as a conflict of interest and a source of bias.

    So, should that liberal AG feel free to prosecute that professor for tax-fund fraud? Duh. No. And you just heard it from a proud Michael Dukakis liberal.

    Tax-fund fraud statutes are not meant to settle scores over political controversies like anthro climate change, and any Libertarian who cannot see the abuse inherent in such use isn't fit to carry Ron Paul's shoes.

  • ||

    here here, danny!

  • ||

    Actually, I support the inquiry for one simple reason. Mann in the "leaked" emails indicated he might be using unethical methods to alter the core data in an effort to support his case. This may or may not have risen to the level of fraud. If he blatantly lied, then fraud it is and he should face sanctions. If he was merely manipulating statistics to prove a point, then he is just guilty of being overzealous and that is not a crime. Given the significant potential that it is the former based on the emails, I believe the investigation is warranted. My suspicions are heightened when the university readily accedes to a Greenpeace FOA request, but not to one by a prosecutor. That is not evidence per se, but it is interesting.

  • sologn||

    is good

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