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.