Home Energy and Environment Cuccinelli Loses Another Battle in War on Science

Cuccinelli Loses Another Battle in War on Science


A judge has set aside Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s subpoena of climate science documents from the University of Virginia:

Judge Paul M. Peatross Jr. ruled (PDF) that Cuccinelli can investigate whether fraud has occured in university grants, as the attorney general had  contended, but ruled that Cuccinelli’s subpoena failed to state a  “reason to believe” that Mann had committed fraud.  

The ruling is a major blow for Cuccinelli, a global  warming skeptic who had maintained he was investigating whether  Mann committed fraud in seeking government money for research that  showed the earth has experienced a rapid, recent warming. Mann, now at  Penn State University, worked at U-Va. until 2005.

According to Peatross, the Virginia Fraud  Against Taxpayers Act, under which the civil investigative demand was  issued, requires that the attorney general include an “objective basis”  to believe fraud has been committed. Peatross indicates that the  attorney general must state the reason so that it can be reviewed by a  court, which Cuccinelli’s failed to do.

Under the McDonnell-Bolling-Cuccinelli administration, Virginia has threatened to become a new national leader in the war on science. Judge Peatross’ ruling is a major step towards steering Virginia back to the path of facts & reason ahead of corporatist ideology.

UPDATE by Lowell: “Senator McEachin Commends Ruling on Cuccinelli Demands on University of Virginia Professor” after the “flip.”

UPDATE #2 by Lowell: Sen. Mark Herring’s reaction after the “flip.”

UPDATE #3 by Lowell: Chap Petersen promises legislation next year to rein in Cuccinelli’s power.  Excellent, but while you’re at it, how about impeachment on the grounds that Cooch is dangerous and insane?

Richmond – Today, in response to the Judge’s ruling on Attorney General Cuccinelli’s campaign against Professor Michael Mann, Senator McEachin applauded the judge’s decision. “I am pleased to see that our system of laws and checks and balances has, once again, protected= individuals from the over reach of figures in power. Attorney General Cuccinelli’s crusade has effectively been terminated by the court. The judge has ruled that the Attorney General failed to make a persuasive argument. Apparently the courts recognize what the majority of sensible Virginians recognize: that individuals at our academic institutions should be allowed to conduct research and that, even more important, the attorney general should not be attempting to use his office and his power to intimidate those who disagree with him on policy issues.

“I continue to have faith that our justice system will continue to protect individuals and organizations from the overreach of the attorney general and from his relentless pursuit of ideology at the expense of our rights and liberties,” Senator McEachin concluded.

Leesburg, VA – Senator Mark Herring (D-Loudoun and Fairfax) today released the following statement in reaction to an Albemarle County judge’s decision to dismiss Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s subpoena for records related to the research activities of former University of Virginia professor Dr. Michael Mann:

“I am extremely pleased by the judge’s decision to dismiss Mr. Cuccinelli’s subpoena and recognize it for what it was – a political ploy. His clear abuse of power and ideological crusade is an embarrassment to Virginia and a waste of taxpayer money at a time when families all around Virginia are worried about just getting by in this tough economy. Mr. Cuccinelli should immediately disclose just how much taxpayer dollars were spent in this misguided effort.”

“Mr. Cuccinelli’s continued pursuit of his own radical agenda jeopardizes our efforts to attract the best scientists and researchers to our highly regarded colleges and universities, as well as our work to promote advanced technology industry locating in the Commonwealth.”

“Virginians demand and expect an Attorney General who can provide objective legal counsel. There is no doubt that Mr. Cuccinelli’s actions are motivated by his own political agenda, and not by what is in the best interests of Virginia families. I am disappointed that the AG’s office intends to pursue this matter further and I strongly urge them to reconsider this position and get on with the people’s business.”

  • Elaine in Roanoke

    One Cuccinelli witch hunt down, many to go. I still find it difficult to believe that a majority of Virginians actually voted for this black eye on the entire state.

    Those three will do anything to satisfy the corporate interests that fund their campaigns, including harrassing those at a state university.

  • blue bronc

    CH cooch is probably going to try again. He is like the rest of them in it does not cost him any money. We are paying for his crusades.  

  • leedynamo

    Lets scrupulously account for how Cuckoo spends his time.  Surely, there are things he could be doing to serve the people of this state effectively.  You can just look at what Attys General and Chief Financial Officers around the country such as candidate for Governor of Florida Alex Sink do with their time.

    I blame DPVA as well as the evil forces for Cuckoo’s election.

  • Glen Tomkins

    It’s not at all surprising that Cuccinelli’s lawsuit was rejected by this judge.  Per the account quoted, this judge thinks you need a “reason to believe” something before you go off suing him, and that reason has to have an “objective basis”.

    It’s a well-known fact that reality has a liberal bias.  If we let these reality-based people be judges, of course justice is going to be all twisted in favor of sense and reason, and the reality-based community.  What happened to fair play and a level playing field for the non-reality-based community?  

  • kindler

    Thanks for serving justice, pure and simple, based on the law and the facts of this case. And thanks for putting teeth in the balance of power — when a member of the executive branch goes completely out of control in the abuse of his powers, then it is time for one of the other branches to reign him in.

    Here at BV, we have been making the case against Cooch’s assault on academic freedom from the very start. The justice system has now vindicated our position.  

  • kindler

    Best line from the judge’s order: “The Attorney General argues that the requirement of’ Section 8.10-216.10 is a subjective standard. In other words, the Attorney General has unbridled discretion to say he believes the University does have relevant material and that the Court does not have the ability to review any requirement he has “reason to believe” or not. The Court disagrees.”


    Best line from Cooch in response: “While this may not have been an outright victory…” Uh yeah, kind of like Gen. Custer didn’t have an outright victory in that one incident you may have heard of…  

  • JimWebster

    Lowell suggests impeachment. It may sound far-fetched, but the campaign to rally support for impeachment would energize a lot of folks (on both sides). It’s worth thinking through.