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Correction to This Article
This article about Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II asking the University of Virginia to turn over documents related to the work of former professor and scientist Michael Mann misquoted Mark R. Levin, president of the Landmark Legal Foundation. Levin said he believed there was no scientific consensus about "man's influence on global warming," not "Mann's influence on global warming."

State attorney general demands ex-professor's files from University of Virginia

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II.
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II. (Steve Helber - AP)
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By Rosalind S. Helderman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 4, 2010

RICHMOND -- Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II is demanding that the University of Virginia turn over a broad range of documents from a former professor to determine whether he defrauded taxpayers as he sought grants for global warming research.

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The civil investigative demand asks for all data and materials presented by former professor Michael Mann when he applied for five research grants from the university. It also gives the school until May 27 to produce all correspondence or e-mails between Mann and 39 other scientists since 1999.

The actions by Cuccinelli (R) -- who has sued the federal government over its regulation of greenhouse gases and has become a leading national voice in alleging that scientists have skewed data to show evidence the Earth is warming -- were cheered by those on the right, who have long targeted Mann as a leading proponent of the theory.

Mann, who works at Penn State, was one of the authors of the "hockey stick" graph, a study that used a variety of data, including tree rings, to chart climate change. His research showed a rapid recent increase in the Earth's temperature.

Mann's work has been repeatedly targeted by global warming skeptics, particularly after an e-mail from him referring to a statistical "trick" he used in his research surfaced in a series of leaked e-mails from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit. Mann has said the e-mail was taken out of context, and an inquiry by Penn State concluded that there was no evidence Mann has engaged in efforts to falsify or suppress data.

Mann and several academic groups decried Cuccinelli's subpoena as an unprecedented inquisition that could threaten academic freedom.

"I think he's simply trying to smear me as part of a larger campaign to discredit my science," said Mann, who left the University of Virginia in 2005.

Rachel Levinson, senior counsel with the American Association of University Professors, said Cuccinelli's request had "echoes of McCarthyism."

"It would be incredibly chilling to anyone else practicing in either the same area or in any politically sensitive area," she said.

In an interview, Cuccinelli said the request is part of an "open inquiry" into whether there were "knowing inconsistencies" made by Mann as he sought taxpayer dollars to fund research.

"In light of the Climategate e-mails, there does seem to at least be an argument to be made that a course was undertaken by some of the individuals involved, including potentially Michael Mann, where they were steering a course to reach a conclusion," he said. "Our act, frankly, just requires honesty."

Carol Wood, a spokesman for the University of Virginia, confirmed that the school had received the April 23 request. She said that it will take time for the university to decide how to proceed but that "the university has a legal obligation to answer this request and it is our intention to respond to the extent required by law."


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