Virginia State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli really doesn't like people thinking the Earth is warming up. He has used his position to continually attack scientist Michael Mann and his work done at the University of Virginia, claiming that Dr. Mann abused taxpayer money and knowingly used falsified data.
Cuccinelli was essentially riding on the coattails of the now totally-discredited Climategate fiasco. You may remember how lots of people got very upset that scientists were sending emails to each other that, when taken grossly out of context and misinterpreted, made it look like those scientists were engaged in cooking the data. Once people looked a little more carefully, it became clear that no shenanigans were going on. Interestingly, although it was hugely covered in the media and by the usual antiscience mob in politics, you hardly hear about Climategate anymore.
But Cuccinelli can't let it go. Even though his subpoena for documents from UVa was dismissed by a judge, he retooled his claims and is now demanding that the University hand over some emails from Mann to colleagues. Apparently, he feels that
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 that the result reported lacked statistical significance without a specific statement to that effect.
Not surprisingly, Michael Mann -- who has been repeatedly cleared of wrongdoing despite many attempts to smear him and his work -- sees the situation somewhat differently:
"I find it extremely disturbing that Mr. Cuccinelli has sought to continue to abuse his power as the attorney general of Virginia in this way, in the process smearing the University of Virginia and me and other climate scientists," Mann said. "The people of Virginia need to be extremely disturbed that he is using their tax dollars to pursue this partisan witch hunt."
I agree, and I'm glad he phrased it this way. Cuccinelli is claiming Mann abused taxpayer funds, but Cuccinelli is the one using taxpayer money to continue this attack which had little or no merit in the first place. Incidentally, Mann also says the narrowing of the claim by Cuccinelli now targets a grant that isn't even climate related. If Mann is correct, it sounds like Cuccinelli is on a fishing expedition, looking for anything he can use to discredit Mann.
It's time for Cuccinelli to admit defeat. Really, his attack should never have occurred; it over-reached in the first place, and the claims have been shown in other venues to be thin. The University rightly fought and continues to fight his efforts. They have said that what Cuccinelli is doing is creating a chilling effect on scientific research: by hounding scientists, it makes it harder for them to perform research in areas where they may get attacked by politically-motivated claims. The more Cuccinelli pursues this, the more it looks like the University is right.
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