The First Amendment’s Greatest Nightmare is Back!


    Just in time for Halloween – Coochie’s back!  No, nothing can stop this maniac – not common sense, not reams of empirical evidence of human-induced climate change – and certainly not a court order affirming that he’s full of (a certain methane-emitting organic substance).  

    In direct defiance of Judge Paul M. Peatross Jr’s ruling that Cooch’s case against U-VA was so hollow that it echoed (I’m paraphrasing here), Virginia’s Ayatollah General Ken Cuccinelli has issued yet another subpoena (called a civil investigative demand or CID) against Jefferson’s university and its former professor, acclaimed climate scientist Michael Mann.

    In his CID (does he, in his fantasies, call himself “El Cid”?), Cooch shows his characteristic level of self restraint by only asking U-VA to produce

    the original and any copies of any written, printed, typed, electronic, or graphic matter of any kind or nature, however,  produced or reproduced, any book, pamphlet, brochure, periodical, newspaper, letter, correspondence, memoranda, notice, facsimile, e-mail, manual, press release, telegram , report, study, handwritten note, working paper, chart, paper, graph, index, tape, data sheet, data processing card, or any other written, recorded, transcribed, punched, taped, filmed or graphic matter now in your possession, custody or control.

    (Although I’m not a lawyer, I believe that the inclusive nature of the list above would require the university to turn over all colonoscopies of Dr. Mann and related researchers during the period in question.)

    To be helpful, though, Cooch limits the subpoena to only the files of fourteen different academic departments at U-VA, from “Computer Engineering” to “Public Policy Program”, plus “[a]ny person who assisted Dr. Mann regarding any of the Grants…”  

    The only concession to the environment that Cooch makes in this new filing is his ardent recycling of the same worn out old climate conspiracy theories. He reiterates his claim that Professor Mann committed “fraud” by engaging in research that could potentially impact the share prices of major oil and coal companies.

    Screw your aluminum cap on tightly because the conspiratorial thinking is rich here.  Cooch claims that the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were controlled by a small cadre of researchers and that they, like the mad scientists in James Bond movies, are motivated by greed: “Because neither the IPCC nor governmental grants to climate scientists would likely continue were it to be determined that man-made global warming was not a serious threat, potential conflicts of interest flow predominantly in one direction.”

    Cooch’s CID even repeats the right wing media’s favor out-of-context quote from the so-called “Climategate” so-called “scandal” about “Mike’s trick to hide the decline” without even mentioning that the decline in question is a decline, not in temperatures, but in tree ring widths, which Mann replaces in his work with actual temperature data.  So Prof. Mann is being accused of fraud about climate change for focusing on actual temperature data?

    BTW, it’s worth noting that even one of the scientists whose work Cooch quotes in this CID to discredit Mann, Stephen McIntyre, said of his last CID:

    This is a repugnant piece of over-zealousness by the Virginia Attorney General, that I condemn. […] To the extent that Virginia citizens are concerned about public money being misappropriated, Cuccinelli’s own expenditures on this adventure should be under equal scrutiny. There will be no value for dollar in this enterprise.

    Ditto that, dude.

    At a time when secret corporate donors are doing their best to purchase a Congress more to their liking, Cooch seems determined to lead the charge to ensure that the climate denial theories subsidized by Koch Industries and Exxon-Mobil prevail over actual science fact.  And if academic freedom dies in the process – hey, you want an omelet, ya gotta break some eggs, man!

    Will Virginia wake up before this nightmare kills us?  Stay tuned!!

    • blue bronc

      This is a fine example of the far right trying to move beyond destroying government to destroying education. CH Cooch is just the leading idiot of several wannabe dictators.  The judge should look at the discovery list and issue a statement of “Because you do not know of what you request your inquest is now finished. With prejudice.”

    • Elaine in Roanoke

      While Kookinelli fiddles around, the University of Virginia  – so far – has spent over $300,000 in legal fees to defend itself and all the scientific scholars in the world from the witch hunts of this idiot that Virginia voters put into a position of power.

    • The Donkey

      Cooch’s latest “Civil Investigative Demand” is here:


      Among many ridiculous things about it: Cooch does not allege that there was anything “fraudulent” about the research Dr. Mann performed under a Virginia grant.

      Rather, Cooch alleges that the grant application may have referenced Dr. Mann’s work before he got to University of Virginia. This research, in turn, contributed to what Cooch describes as the “now notorious hockey stick graph.”

      But there is no allegation that the Virginia research had anything to do with the hockey stick graph.

      In other words, Cooch is saying that Mann’s prior work infects EVERYTHING Mann does for the rest of his life with fraud.

      In the business, we call this sort of thing “bootstrapping.” It is a hallmark of frivilous and malicious legal claims.

      Legally, Cooch knows he cannot get at the “hockey stick” analysis that really pisses him off, so he litigates against everything he thinks he can, however tenuously connected.

      He plays fast and loose with an allegation of criminality he knows will never make it to court in the hope that some loose document will drop out of the discovery process that he can use in his unrelated suit against EPA, or as fodder for right wing climate change denying propaganda, or whatever.

      This kind of irresponsible behavior can lead to court imposed sanctions and professional misconduct proceedings.

      I think it should: I wonder whether the Charlottesville Circuit Court or the Virginia Bar will agree.    

    • Jim B

      It seems to me that if Mann did any work at all on his research grant it does not matter what conclusions he came up with. I suppose the grant contained a statement of work(SOW) and if he met the requirements by submitting a final report he has met those requirements. Don’t see how the idiot AG can prove fraud unless the guy did no work at all and so far it looks like he did.

    • for gross misconduct in office.  

    • blue bronc

      I suspect that CH Cooch is going to be filing subpoenas for a long time.  One of the far right anti-government tactics that as been in use, don’t have a link you can see it in legislation and attempts to amend consitutions, has been to keep coming back after each defeat. Change a word and file again, and again.  Eventually some brassless Dem will cave a little and say something about giving them just a little of what the nuts want and they will go away.

      The problem is these people do not go away or compromise. You have to fight them everytime they poke their idiotic noses out of the hole they live in. UVA must fight and we need to help them fight by constantly keeping the public informed of what is at stake. In this case the scientific method. If by doing research and coming to a conclusion is punishable by government then there is to be no more scientific research. Only those wearing the expensive robes will be able to divine what the holy books say about religion no longer science.

    • weighs in:

      …as appalling as this reasoning is, Cuccinelli’s latest request is simply bone-headed because the grant in question, entitled “Resolving the scale-wise sensitivities in the dynamical coupling between the climate and biosphere”, simply has nothing to do with the MBH98 and MBH99 papers! Even if one agreed with Cuccinelli about their quality (which we don’t), they are not referenced or mentioned even obliquely. The grant was to look at how climate variability impacted land-atmosphere fluxes of carbon, water and heat and doesn’t involve paleo-climate at all. So even if, for arguments sake, one accepted Cuccinelli’s definition of what constitutes ‘fraud’, nothing associated with this grant would qualify. We doubt there could be a clearer demonstration of the inappropriateness of Cuccinelli’s case.