UVA Fighting Cuccinelli’s Climate-Gate Subpoena — Prez: Demand ‘Sent A Chill’ Through Academia

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The University of Virginia will fight a demand from Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli that it hand over documents relating to the work of a former UVA climate scientist.

In a court filing, the university argued that Cuccinelli’s subpoena for the records of government-funded work conducted by climate scientist Michael Mann goes beyond the AG’s legal authority, and threatens academic freedom.Cuccinelli’s subpoena had “sent a chill through the Commonwealth’s colleges and universities,” said UVA president John T. Casteen III in a statement.

The university at first had said that it was working to comply with the demand, before reversing course.

Because UVA is a public institution, it is a client of Cuccinelli — creating an awkward showdown that most attorneys general try to avoid. “Attorneys general do everything they can to avoid being on opposite sides of their clients,” former AG Jerry Kilgore, a Republican, told the Washington Post.

Mann, now at Penn State, was one of several climate scientists caught up in the “Climate-Gate” controversy, which involved the release of emails exchanged among climate scientists. Cuccinelli, a conservative Republican, has said his investigation is focused on whether Mann used taxpayer dollars to commit fraud by deliberately misrepresenting scieintific data on climate change. Several investigations, including one by Penn State, have exonerated Mann of any deliberate wrong-doing.

Even climate change skeptics have slammed Cuccinelli’s probe as a “witch hunt.” A group of 800 Virginia academics recently called on him to drop the inquiry.

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