Virginia court hears Cuccinelli’s defense of climate suit

Mann to be deposed in February?

The Washington Times reports,

A deputy for state Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II argued before Virginia’s highest court Thursday that his office has a right to investigate whether a climate scientist defrauded the state in seeking taxpayer-funded grants for his research.

Wesley G. Russell Jr., deputy attorney general for civil litigation for Virginia, argued that the Fraud Against Taxpayers Act, which Mr. Cuccinelli is using to issue subpoenalike demands for records related to climatologist Michael Mann, allows him to do so if there is “reason to believe” that a person may have documents relevant to a fraud investigation.

“The entire purpose of the statutory scheme is to see whether the commonwealth or its agencies have been bilked out of money,” Mr. Russell said.

Albemarle County Circuit Court Judge Paul Peatross set aside the demands in August 2010, saying that there was no “objective basis” to think that Mr. Mann committed fraud in securing five taxpayer-funded grants, four of which involved federal money.

In response, Mr. Cuccinelli appealed the ruling and refiled a new demand narrowing the scope of his inquiry to the one state-funded grant. The judge has put that case on hold until a Supreme Court ruling on the appeal…

A ruling is expected in March.

In a similar but unaffiliated case, Delegate Robert G. Marshall, Prince William Republican, and the conservative American Tradition Institute are in the process of obtaining records related to Mr. Mann from the university through an open-records request. The group is producing copies of a small number of thousands of emails to show to a judge as examples of ones they think are not exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.

The group plans to depose the university and Mr. Mann in mid-February, said David Schnare, director of the ATI Environmental Law Center.

“If they have to give everything to the attorney general, then why continue on with this case?” he asked. “They’ll just give us the stuff, too … at the end of the day, they either give us these things willingly, or it’s going to go all the way up the ladder.”

Mr. Mann said in an email that people such as Mr. Cuccinelli and conservative groups are simply engaging in an “ongoing smear campaign” in an attempt to discredit climate science…

Read the entire Times article.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.