Home Energy and Environment Crazy Cooch Launches Climate Change “Witch Hunt” at UVA

Crazy Cooch Launches Climate Change “Witch Hunt” at UVA


As many of us warned during 2009, if Ken Cuccinelli were ever elected as Virginia’s Attorney General, he would not hesitate to pursue his paranoid, extremist, radical, hateful agenda. Now, he’s proving it in spades, on a wide variety of fronts from anti-gay protections to “states’ rights” to the supposed unconstitutionality of the federal health insurance “mandate to climate change to an exposed woman’s breast to the Confederacy to…you name it. In short, Cooch is flailing around and lashing out on pretty much everything, from “soup to nuts” (emphasis on “nuts”).  In the process, he is helping to turn Virginia into a national laughing stock.

Now, Crazy Cooch’s latest move is this insanity.

In papers sent to UVA April 23, Cuccinelli’s office commands the university to produce a sweeping swath of documents relating to Mann’s receipt of nearly half a million dollars in state grant-funded climate research conducted while Mann- now director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State- was at UVA between 1999 and 2005.

If Cuccinelli succeeds in finding a smoking gun like the purloined emails that led to the international scandal dubbed Climategate, Cuccinelli could seek the return of all the research money, legal fees, and trebled damages.

Wow, even for Cooch this is off the deep end.  I mean, does Cooch really expect he’s going to find some “smoking gun” here that disproves the science of climate change, about which there is both overwhelming evidence and overwhelming consensus among climate scientists?  As UVA climate faculty member Howie Epstein says in The Hook article, “I don’t really know what they’re looking for or expecting to find.”

Of course, Cuccinelli’s latest crusade has nothing to do with serious scientific inquiry or fact finding. Far more likely, what this is all about is: 1) intimidation of scientists and free academic inquiry; 2) serving his masters in the fossil fuel industry (e.g., Massey Energy); and 3) pandering to his ultra-right-wing, climate-change-denying “base,” etc. As even “climate skeptic” Chip Knappenberger acknowledges, this is a “witch hunt,” plain and simple. It is truly chilling when authorities use their power to intimidate academics against telling the truth.

What’s particularly amazing (and infuriating) is that, even as we destroy the Gulf of Mexico thanks to one fossil fuel industry (oil) and trash our planet’s overall ecosystem largely via another (coal), Cooch is not only failing to learn his lessons, he’s actually doubling down on his ignorance and insanity. What next, is Cooch going to try and bring back the Spanish Inquisition?  Whoops, better not give him any ideas…

  • Elaine in Roanoke

    Let’s see… If Cooch can undertake all these ridiculous, far-right attacks on anything and everything he perceives as wrong, perhaps someone will demand that he produce an accounting of just how much money is being spent so that this “Don Quixote” of the wingnut wing of the GOP can pursue his windmill tilting.

    Just in this instance, who will pay for all the man-hours required to comb through years of records at UVa, both written and electronic, plus making copies of whatever he wants? Talk about over-reach of the government! Talk about wasteful government spending!

    Is this money going to come from Cooch’s slush fund PAC like the neo-Civil-War-era pins he handed out in his office? Hardly.

    I’ll give him one thing, though. He’s far more effective in arousing opposition to the Republican Party of Virginia than anything else right now – and a money-raising machine for Democrats. He’s turning into a “Macaca” moment that just keeps on going…and going…and going. A veritable Eveready bunny of absurdity.

  • Teddy Goodson

    Apparently Cuccinelli does not have anything specific in mind, nor any “probable cause” to excuse or explain this broad demand for anything and everything. Therefore, cannot the University refuse his demand? Cannot they enter a restraining order or injunction, or whatever you call it, to force a less broad-based fishing expedition?

    This guy is a one-man Gestapo, or maybe the KGB chief out of Lubyanka searching for anti-regime heretics under Stalin.

  • kindler

    Next he could subpoena:

    – Biologists to request why they’re teaching evolution

    – Geography departments for claiming the earth is round

    – Journalism schools for focusing on any broadcast stations other than Fox News

    – Theology departments for wasting time discussing what Hindus, Moslems and Buddhists might think

    – Etc — the possibilities are endless!

    Sigh.  I hate to say it, but it might be time for me to move out of Virginia to, you know, some place in the free world.  

  • TomPaine

    Not likely; Cooch thinks that Torquemada was too compassionate toward the heretics!  

  • Molecules

    I feel so completely helpless that this wacko is our AG right now.  Is there not anything that can be done about him?  Can the AG be recalled?  I’m to the point where I’ll start my own grassroots campaign to get him the hell out of office.  

  • WestEndVoter

    I believe that the Climategate e-mails were mentioned in the complaint, or at least in a press release.  Virginia attorneys can use subpoena power to get information even from non-parties to litigation.  It was perhaps unnecessary to invoke state-grant funding for getting the information, but such would make the subpoena a bit more bulletproof.