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.”