School is now out, but lessons are always useful. Today we’ll have one on the term “fraud.” It means to intentionally deceive for personal gain, or to damage another.
This is taught in every law school in the land, including at George Mason University, where Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli earned his shingle. Now he’s the Republican nominee for governor.
The question of the day is, did Cuccinelli learn his law-school lessons about fraud? His tenure as attorney general leaves you wondering. Let’s consider the two most prominent fraud cases Cuccinelli has been mixed up in.
The first concerns former University of Virginia climate scientist Michael Mann, who’s now at Penn State.
While he was at UVa, Mann published a paper that revealed the “hockey-stick graph,” a chart that showed steeply rising temperatures on Earth in the past 100 years.
It’s among data cited by climatologists around the world that suggests pollution from humans has contributed to the Earth’s warming. It wasn’t perfect, but a decade’s worth of critical analysis by other scientists has supported Mann’s research and methodology. The global warming deniers have claimed Mann cooked his data.
Four months into his job as attorney general, Cuccinelli decided Mann’s research at UVa should be investigated to see if he had defrauded taxpayers. So he went after Mann over some research grants he’d obtained while at UVa, including a $215,000 Virginia grant to study land, atmosphere and vegetation in Africa.
During its probe, the AG’s office demanded UVa turn over many documents, including emails between Mann and 39 other climate scientists around the world that went back more than a decade. Nearly two years later the Virginia Supreme Court shot down the fishing expedition, and the investigation ended.
By then, UVa had spent more than $350,000 defending itself on the case, and more than 900 Virginia academics had signed a letter decrying it as a witch hunt. But Cuccinelli’s stock among the global-warming-denial crowd soared. It turned him into one of their up-and-coming stars.
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