June 2, 2011

Thank you for acknowledging the University of Virginia’s agreement to provide us certain records under Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act [“Harassing researchers,” editorial, May 30]. Over the past 18 months, U-Va. employed a series of ever-changing rationales to avoid doing so. Of course, like U-Va., The Post failed to articulate an argument grounded in the statute for treating one class of records, or people, differently from the rest of those expressly covered by the act’s terms as a condition of taxpayer-funded employment.  

But we take issue with the editorial’s failure to acknowledge a critical point: It is customary among commonwealth universities to provide such records of academics, even the specific class of records we are seeking. For example, U-Va. began providing to Greenpeace records of former research professor Patrick Michaels, before Greenpeace suspended its request. And just this year George Mason University released correspondence of professor Edward Wegman regarding an already published paper, just as we seek former U-Va. assistant professor Michael Mann’s correspondence relating to his publications.  

For the uninitiated, Mr. Michaels is a “skeptic.” Mr. Wegman was involved in exposing Mr. Mann’s statistical methods and problems with climate science’s version of peer-review. So their records are somehow different. For The Post to acknowledge this disparate treatment would be to acknowledge that the law is on our side, that the exception sought here is unique to a favored individual, and that this expression of outrage in response to our request is therefore selective and hypocritical.  

Christopher Horner, Washington

The writer is director of litigation at the American Tradition Institute’s Environmental Law Center.

Dear John,

I am the true author of the letter and did not cut-and-paste or copy any part of it from other sources. [Other than properly attributed quotes.] 

I am using my real name.

I did not send or post this letter or a similar item to any other media, Internet forums, or blogs.

Daytime, evening and cell phone number is 202.262.4458.

Best,

Chris Horner

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