UVa smacks down Cuccinelli – Highlight Reel

Apparently, UVa paid good money to their lawyers.  Their criticism roughly lines up with mine from my previous post.  UVa’s response begins by pointing out that Cuccinelli spends a full 1/3 of his document outlining scientific criticism of Michael Mann rather than fraud.  Just like I have done, UVa does not need to rely on assertions about the truth or validity of the science to take the wind out of Cuccinelli’s sails.  I think rather than dissecting this page by page, I will leave you all with the best quotes:


  • “FATA does not authorize the attorney general to police academic debate”
  • “nothing in this editorial screed, or anywhere else in the Opposition, describes alleged conduct that would constitute a FATA violation”

Criticism of Scientific Research Does not Justify a FATA investigation (the whole point of creating this blog)

  • “FATA does not authorize an investigation into the disappearance of the ‘Medieval Warm Period’ and the ‘Little Ice Age’ from the presentation of Dr. Mann’s research conclusions.”
  • “The Attorney General makes no attempt to specifically connect these critiques – academic debates about algorithms and systemic uncertainties – to the grants identified in the CIDs.” (This is worth a comment, a connection I didn’t see in my earlier posting.  Mann’s “hockey stick” work, on which Cuccinelli focuses his criticism, predates the FATA by 7-8 years.  How then is it connected to fraud under the later UVa grants?)

(there’s a lot of court cases that UVa cites about how bad math isn’t fraud… I may try to look into these in more detail in the coming days)

  • “Disagreements over scientific methodology do not give rise to False Claims Act liability.  Furthermore, the legal process is not suited to resolving scientific disputes or identifying scientific misconduct.” – United States in rel Milam v. Regents Univ. of Cal.1995 (It should be pointed out that many precedents Cuccinelli cites are also under the False Claims Act, and wording this specific in other decisions is likely to come back and bite him)
  • “The [False Claims ] Act would not put either Ptolemy or Copernicus on trial.” Wang v. FMC Corp., 1992
  • Three other cases are cited with nearly identical language.  Bad math is not fraud.  Assuming even that it is bad math……

The CIDs fail FATA’s core requirement

(So remember how Cuccinelli said that he doesn’t need to say specifically what he’s investigation since he’s only investigating and not charging a violation?  It turns out there was a gaping hole in his logic.  That statute defines an investigation as looking into violations.  And Cuccinelli hasn’t figured what those are yet.  Bazinga.)

  • “FATA does not authorize the Attorney General to conduct an investigation merely to obtain the ‘assurance’ that no FATA violation occurred – particularly here where the attorney general has failed to even state the nature of the conduct allegedly under investigation”
  • “The Opposition is thus incorrect to assert that these statutory requirements can be met perfunctorily in this case by merely (1) listing three subsections of the FATA; (2) reciting academic criticism of Dr. Mann’s research, and (3) identifying five gants under which Dr. Mann did some research particularly when four of the grants are federal, four pre-date FATA, and none is mentioned in any of the recited critiques of Dr. Mann’s work.” (emphasis original. step 1: cite random law, step 2: criticize research, step 3: find something vaguely related to random law in research, step 4: ????, step 5: PROFIT!!!)

(some more court cases, particularly in Virginia law, where the civil investigative demands were required to have actual, specifically fraudulent claims)

The University is not a person under FATA

(I still don’t understand this argument.  Something about how UVa doesn’t count as a person under the law unless it’s specifically named in the law.)

The Breadth of the CIDs Undermines their Enforceability

  • “Like the CIDs themselves, the Opposition fails to state the connection between the dozens of individuals mentioned in the CIDs and the five grants purportedly under investigation.” (i.e. This is a fishing expedition.  Cuccinelli asked for the kitchen sink, but fails to show that the sink was purchased using state funds)
  • “Nonwithstanding the Attorney General’s concerns about the Little Ice Age, the Medieval Warm Period, and Post Normal Science, FATA does not give the Attorney General license to sift through Dr. Mann’s research data, materials, discussions, conclusions, and correspondence with dozens of other academics over a period spanning more than ten years.”

Enforcement of the CIDs would Infringe Acaedmic Freedom and Chill Scientific Debate

  • “The Attorney General has no authorize to “investigate” scientific research or the expression of scientific ideas”
  • “to prevail over academic freedom [the extent of the intrusion must be] carefully limited” – Dow Chem. Co. v. Allen 1982
  • (The last paragraph points out that if this subpoena is not quashed, it would allow the AG to “investigate” the conclusions of any academic discipline that is at a state school.  It is eloquent and should be read in its entirety.)
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3 Responses to UVa smacks down Cuccinelli – Highlight Reel

  1. Well put! Bazinga, indeed! Cooch has been deservedly dope-slapped.

  2. Snapple says:

    I did some research and learned that Cuccinelli’s father is a former marketing executive at the American Gas Association–the gas lobby. Now the elder Cuccinelli has an advertising/marketing company that probably also serves natural gas clients because the father’s expertise in that area is touted. It is even noted that Cuccinelli’s father has another business with clients in “Europe.” Maybe these “European” clients include natural gas companies such as the Russian Gazprom.

    The father’s company gave Cuccinelli over 96,000 dollars for his campaign.

    I am wondering if there is some conflict of interest here and if Cuccinelli has hijacked the AG office for the financial benefit of his family.

    I remember that Congressman Weldon lobbied for the Russian-American gas company Itera, and his daughter got 500,000 dollars in “consulting fees.”
    Sometimes professional services can be a way to disguise bribes, so the FBI raided Itera and investigated Weldon.

    I think the federal authorities should investigate the possible conflict of interest as they did with Weldon.

    Here are some details with links of what I found out.

    The claim that US scientists are greedy and corrupt is a staple of Russian propaganda. Remember when the KGB finally admitted that they had spread the lie that the Pentagon scientists made AIDS to kill blacks?

    Izvestiya (3-19-92) reported:
    “[Russian intelligence chief Yevgeni Primakov] mentioned the well known articles printed a few years ago in our central newspapers about AIDS supposedly originating from secret Pentagon laboratories. According to Yevgeni Primakov, the articles exposing US scientists’ “crafty” plots were fabricated in KGB offices.”

    The Kremlin-financed English-language propaganda channel Russia Today puts those Western global warming denialists on TV. The Russian natural gas business pays the bills for the Kremlin, so they are protecting their profits.

    The Russian propaganda generally maintains that global warming is a plot to destroy Russia economically. Last fall, President Medvedev called the global-warming debate “some kind of tricky campaign made up by some commercial structures to promote their business projects.”

    Since NASA scientists helped the Russians spot their forest fires this summer, the Russian media has pretty much stopped defaming our scientists as greedy people who tell lies to get government money. Medvedev now says that global warming is happening. One Russian conspiracist claimed there is global warming but our scientists are causing it by beaming “secret climate weapons” at “certain countries” (Russia).

    First our scientists were accused in the Russian press of inventing nonexistent global warming and now they are accused of causing global warming, but evidently Cuccinelli didn’t get the memo.

    I think if Dr. Mann gets his trigger finger on any Buck Rogers “secret climate weapons” his first target won’t be Russia.

    • vafreedom says:

      There are many things wrong with Cuccinelli’s campaign donors. Did you hear about Bobby Thomson, the guy who was his second largest campain contributor at $55k? Apparently was the head of a fraudulent veterans charity.

      Interesting that his largest campaign contributor is his father, and second largest is a scam artist…….

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