The University of Virginia fires back, in court, against Attorney General Ken Kook-inelli’s bizarre, outrageous crusade against academic freedom and science. This pretty much sums it up with regard to Cooch’s “Civil Investigative Demands” (CID’s) against UVA:
The Virginia Attorney General does not appear ever before to have issued a FATA [Fraud Against Taxpayers Act] CID aimed at peer-reviewed research conducted by a university faculty member. The Attorney General’s CID authority under FATA is limited to investigating potential violations of FATA – not probing the merits of scientific theories or furthering some other agenda. Yet that is all these CIDs do. What the CIDs do not do is satisfy the basic statutory requirements for their issuance.
The CIDs fail at the threshold for other reasons s well. For one thing, the governing statute makes no provision for CIDs to issue against an agency of the Commonwealth. Further, the scope of the information goes far beyond the investigation of a potential FATA violation. The Attorney General’s requests are truly sweeping, seeking virtually all of Dr. Mann’s academic and scientific research “data, materials, and communications” over a period of more than ten years. There is, in short, no nexus between the CIDs’ extremely broad requests and a potential FATA violation.
There is, however, an obvious and destructive nexus between the CIDs and academic speech. Enforcing the CIDs against the University – subjecting Thomas Jefferson’s “academical village” to a sweeping and baseless “fraud” inquiry – threatens bedrock principles of limited government and academic freedom upon which this Nation has rested for more than two centuries.
This case does not ask the Court to wade into the climate debate, but rather to apply well-settled principles of Virginia law. The CIDs are fundamentally flawed. Enforcing them will set a harmful precedent for the Commonwealth and all of its institutions of higher learning. For these reasons, and as explained below, the CIDs should be set aside.