McDonnell Mum On Cuccinelli’s Climate Science ‘Witch Hunt’

Since news broke that Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is conducting a fraud investigation into the work of a former UVA climate scientist who was caught up in the “Climate-Gate” controversy, reactions have been pouring in — with even some climate skeptics slamming the probe as a threat to academic freedom.

But one interested observer has been noticeably mum: Governor Bob McDonnell.TPMmuckraker called McDonnell’s office yesterday to ask for his take on his fellow Republican’s use of state taxpayer dollars to target a scientist, despite little evidence of wrongdoing. Since then, crickets.

McDonnell hasn’t always been so coy about Cuccinelli’s rightward moves. After the AG tried to stop the state’s universities from banning anti-gay discrimination in March, the governor stepped in to reaffirm that such discrimination is prohibited. But he supported Cuccinelli’s lawsuit arguing that health-care reform is unconstitutional.

McDonnell and Cuccinelli, both conservative Republicans, were elected separately last fall.

As for Cuccinelli’s latest effort, the former UVA climate scientist being targeted, Michael Mann, blasted the AG to TPMmuckraker, saying that he “would rather create distractions to fool the public, rather than confront the reality of human-caused climate change.” And two high-profile climate-change skeptics have separately compared the investigation to a “witch hunt.”

An investigation of Mann’s work by Penn State, where he now teaches, largely exonerated him. It found that he had not suppressed or falsified data; had not tried to conceal or destroy e-mails or other information; and had not misused confidential information. It also found there was no evidence that he did anything that “seriously deviated from accepted practices” in scholarly research, but asked a larger panel to take a closer look.