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VA AG Ken Cuccinelli has re-filed a subpoena alleging fraud and demanding documents from University of Virginia regarding Michael Mann's research prior to his leaving in 2005, the most notable of which is the so-called "hockey stick" work, showing the sudden increase in temperatures in the industrial era. Cuccinelli's previous subpoena, dealing with that research, was quashed because VA had no jurisdiction over federal grants. The new subpoena deals with Mann's only state grant, which had nothing to do with the hockey stick concept. However, Cuccinelli is clearly trying to get at Mann (and other climatologists) any way he can, and demands, as he did in his quashed subpoena, 10 years of emails between Mann and various other scientists.  His criteria for what constitutes fraud are bizarre.


For the two papers in question the fraud allegation is that the authors

   ... knew or should have known [that they] contained false information, unsubstantiated claims, and/or were otherwise misleading. Specifically, but without limitation, some of the conclusions of the papers demonstrate a complete lack of rigor regarding the statistical analysis of the alleged data, meaning the result reported lacked statistical significance without a specific statement to that effect.

So in other words, if you publish a result that might turn out to be statistically weak or with understated error bars – even if this was in no way deliberate and regardless if you were aware of it at the time – Cuccinelli thinks that is equivalent to fraud. And any grant that you apply for that even cites this paper would therefore be a false claim under the statute. Cuccinelli is specifically not stating that deliberate scientific misconduct must have occurred, all you need to have performed is an inadequate (according to him) statistical treatment or you made an unsubstantiated claim.
The grant was to look at how climate variability impacted land-atmosphere fluxes of carbon, water and heat and doesn’t involve paleo-climate at all. So even if, for arguments sake, one accepted Cuccinelli’s definition of what constitutes ‘fraud’, nothing associated with this grant would qualify. We doubt there could be a clearer demonstration of the inappropriateness of Cuccinelli’s case.

Well, maybe one. In the attachment to the subpoena, Cuccinelli repeats his claim that since Mann used the word "community" in a blog post here on RC, he must therefore be using "Post Normal" jargon, and that might be "misleading/fraudulent" in the context of a grant application. Really? Scientists who use the word "community" regardless of context are therefore to be suspected of fraud? This is just embarrassing.

Cuccinelli is an unethical Republican hack using his office to harass climate scientists for political ends. He should not be allowed to get away this latest version of McCarthyism. Contact the Virginia State Bar Association to register a complaint.

Originally posted to seesdifferent on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 10:55 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  This legal haraasment of scientists really (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rogneid, Kimball Cross, jimcbq

    undermines the credibility of the US judicial system in the eyes of the world. This sort of witch hunt just doesn't happen in normal first world countries. Some brilliant pro bono lawyer needs to step up to the plate and sue Cuccinelli on behalf of science.

  •  Relevant Virginia bar addresses. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I have emailed the Virginia Bar Standing Committees that seem to have most relevance to this dreadful ongoing violation of Professors Manns rights with the following email:

    "The ongoing harassment of Professor Mann by Ken Cuccinelli undermines the credibility of the US legal system in the eyes of the world. I'm aware of no normal first world country where such an obvious vendetta against a scientist would be permitted to go unchallenged by that countries legal profession.

    Mr Cuccinellis behaviour is a disgrace to your profession, a disgrace to the state of Virginia and a disgrace to the reputation of the US as a nation based on the rule of law. Mr Cuccinelli appears to be treating Virginia as his own private fiefdom where the normal rules of fairplay and legal ethics are dispensable in his quest to undermine science with which he is in disagreement.

    I have yet to read of any attempt by the Virginia Legal Ethics Committee to address this obvious violation of any decent societies legal code and would be grateful if you could bring the matter to the attention of the Committee immediately.

    Yours faithfully
    Co. Dublin

    Standing Committee Liaisons
    Lawyer Discipline: Edward L. Davis, (804) 775-0566
    Legal Ethics: James McCauley, (804) 775-0565
    Legal Ethics: Leslie Haley, (804) 775-0549
    Professionalism: Maureen Stengel, 775-0517

  •  Cooch is a stain on the reputation of law (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:


  •  I thought Republicans were against frivolous (5+ / 0-)


    Except when they're not, apparently.

    I come by my cynicism naturally - drop by drop over a lifetime of disappointment.

    by Turbonerd on Wed Oct 06, 2010 at 04:51:21 AM PDT

    •  This jackass is using the AG office to fund raise (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      among the TP/GOP far idiocracy for a run at governor. It is just one of a number of wild eyed lawsuit swings that get incorporated into fund raising letters.

      Yep, elections have consequences and ignoring down ticket candidates while focusing on the top also has consequence. Unfortunately, those of us paying serious attention have three plus years to live with this fucking consequence of "no enthusiasm" for the top and a whole bunch of our side sitting on their asses last year.

      I hope they enjoy the BOHICA--I sure do not!

      The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

      by pelagicray on Wed Oct 06, 2010 at 06:02:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think this is great news (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    seesdifferent, skrekk, jimcbq, imokyrok

    It forces the University of Virginia to take a stand--it can't do otherwise--and it gets the AG into a situation he can't win but can lose in all sorts of cool ways.  The thing with Republicans, some of them anyway, is that they are too dumb to understand that there are constraints to what you can attempt within long-established institutions like the courts than don't exist in the anything-goes realm of politics.  While some progressives see this as scary, I see it as a welcome diversion of Republican energies and a great forum for them to look ridiculous.  And who knows, maybe suffer some actual professional consequences, although I wouldn't count on it.

    The most impressive thing about man [...] is the fact that he has invented the concept of that which does not exist--Glenn Gould

    by Rich in PA on Wed Oct 06, 2010 at 04:53:02 AM PDT

    •  That's one way of looking at it. (0+ / 0-)

      Another is that Prof Mann has suffered enough at the hands of Cuccinelli and his denier ilk. And so has American science in general. How keen do you imagine any scientist is to engage in work that might attract the ire of Republicans and creationists these days when those groups throw endless resources at trying to destroy their lives? Science will march on but it will do so somewhere other than the US.

  •  Sifting haystacks for irrelevant needles (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    to misinterpret... the truth of global climate change and the give and take, free exchange of ideas in science are not understood in the least by climate change denier conspirators who see conspiracies where there are none. This fishing expedition looking for lint that they can weave into something resembling the paranoid notions of fraud they believe in resembles other conservative fishing expeditions. If this pointless process is continued it will be like the witch hunt against Clinton which after years of breathlessly expected proof of murder and corruption and fraud... only led to a blow job and a semen stain and a staged gotcha over definitions.

    Cuccinelli won't even get results as "substantive" as Monica-gate  from this petty version of the same "investigative" approach... it amounts to: "we just know there is a crime somewhere" and thus they will keep nosing and nosing into anything and anywhere that will come up with anything that looks usable to verify what they think they already know...

    The opposite of science... these silly people start with the conclusion and then go trawling for incidental scraps that can be made to fit it. Scraps mixed in with a huge amount of throwback which if understood properly would prove the opposite of Cuccinelli's odd notions. Non science, open-ended, expensive witch-hunting used to try and disprove science and mis-characterize the process of science. Galileo would find this so very familiar... Sure Cuccinelli is not on the same scale or power as the inquisition... but that is not from want of trying.

    Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

    by IreGyre on Wed Oct 06, 2010 at 05:25:13 AM PDT

  •  Thank you "Unenthused" Virginia voters. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Think elections don't have consequences--even if the top candidate doesn't make you "enthused" or "happy"? Want to "send a message" to "Democrats" that you are less than happy?

    This next of vipers is what you get for not paying attention!

    The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

    by pelagicray on Wed Oct 06, 2010 at 05:57:18 AM PDT

  •  And another thing... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    A week or so ago, the Washington Post ran an article saying that Cuccinelli and Gov. McDonnell planned to attend a Tea Party rally in Richmond.  No big deal -- until the reporter quoted Cuccinelli's "political director" in the story.  "Poticial Director"?  Since when does a state attorney general need a "political director"?  I thought Cuccinelli and every other card-carrying GOPer or Tea Partier were "strict constructionist," attempting to purify the legal system from values-oriented interpretations and applications of the law.  So am I, a citizen of the Commonwealth of Virginia, paying taxes to support Cuccinelli's political aspirations?  I've written to my (Democratic) state legislator and to the Washington Post, to determine whether this political director is a taxpayer-funded position, but so far, no response.  I am incensed that Cuccinelli is far more concerned about pursuing his wingnut agenda rather than making sure the streets are safe.  This business with Mann and UVA is just one more of his "political director's" machinations.

    nyuk, nyuk, nyuk -- Curley

    by hjkelly3 on Wed Oct 06, 2010 at 06:51:52 AM PDT

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