Virginia university releases correspondence of professor involved in ‘Hockey Stick’ controversy

Silence from pressure groups deafening; media joins hypocrisy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Contacts:
Christopher Horner, chris.horner@atinstitute.org
Paul Chesser, paul.chesser@atinstitute.org

American Tradition Institute’s Environmental Law Center has learned that George Mason University, in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from USA Today, promptly released an academic’s correspondence and related records of the same class as those sought by ATI from the University of Virginia regarding former assistant professor Michael Mann. This provides a new complication for UVA’s argument that its delay and withholding of records are consistent with practice and the Commonwealth’s FOI Act, regarding ATI’s long-stalled (more than 4 ½ months) request.

The distinctions between how these two universities responded are inescapable, and paint UVA’s continued reticence in a very bad light. First, in response to requests for records of like kind and quality, one state institution – GMU – promptly and cooperatively executed its obligations under FOIA, providing approximately 3,000 pages of responsive records to USA Today within 14 days, without charge. Meanwhile the other, UVA, failed to produce records for months; refused to abide by a reasonable production schedule; claimed exemptions in the FOIA law that do not apply to Mann’s case; and imposed on ATI a financial hurdle of thousands of dollars. UVA only started providing records after ATI sued for compliance.

Second, the subject of the request to UVA, Michael Mann, is a leading voice in the global warming grant-seeking and policy advocacy industry. In contrast the subject of the GMU request is Edward Wegman, who co-authored a report at Congress’s request that exposed the statistical methods employed (and ignored) by Mann, et al. The report also revealed how a small group of related professionals have turned peer-review in climate science into an almost meaningless and sometimes perverse “pal review.”

ATI learned of this troubling disparity through another request for records, after a review of national news stories that addressed Wegman’s records. Unlike ATI’s FOIA, the GMU inquiry prompted no outcry from groups such as the ACLU, American Association of University Professors (AAUP), and American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), all which claimed to be outraged out of principle at the prospect of the release of similar records for Mann.

ATI requested from GMU copies of potential correspondence from ACLU, AAUP, or AAAS regarding the Wegman case, to determine whether the activist groups had lodged similar complaints about the release of Wegman’s records. GMU informed ATI that no such records existed.

“All of this affirms the hypocrisy of claimed outrage over the application of Virginia’s FOIA to the records we seek from UVA,” said Christopher Horner, director of litigation for ATI’s Environmental Law Center. “Obviously UVA and these intervening groups believe FOIA is uniquely designed to allow the selective shielding of records, ones the global warming industry deems ad hoc must be kept from the public at all costs.”

After an inquiry by a Washington Post editorial writer, ATI fully briefed him on the law’s letter, spirit and typical implementation as evidenced by GMU’s records release – and that no activists took issue with that Virginia university releasing the records of the less politically correct. But the Post had no interest in the relevant facts, or in their own double standard, as was illustrated in an editorial published on Memorial Day in which the newspaper criticized ATI’s supposed “misuse” of FOIA and “harassment” of climate change researchers.

Last week ATI’s request for Mann’s records went before a Prince William County judge, who ordered that UVA provide the taxpayer-underwritten records to ATI in electronic form within 90 days. In addition ATI has won the right, under a protective order, to look at all the documents beginning no later than September 21, including those the University refuses to make public via claimed exemptions.

“Our claim is about nothing more than execution of the FOIA law as written, and as it has been applied elsewhere,” said David Schnare, director of ATI’s Environmental Law Center. “UVA must soon defend its decision to keep the public in the dark. It may want to take a hard look at what GMU released as they set one standard of performance the public now expects UVA to meet.”

To view all documents and media coverage of ATI v. University of Virginia, visit ATI’s special Law Center page for the case.

Virginia university releases correspondence of professor involved in ‘Hockey Stick’ controversy

Silence from pressure groups deafening; media joins hypocrisy

If you cannot read this press release, or would like to view all embedded links and documents, please click here: http://tinyurl.com/3tq7ml2

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Contacts:
Christopher Horner, chris.horner@atinstitute.org
Paul Chesser, paul.chesser@atinstitute.org

American Tradition Institute’s Environmental Law Center has learned that George Mason University, in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from USA Today, promptly released an academic’s correspondence and related records of the same class as those sought by ATI from the University of Virginia regarding former assistant professor Michael Mann. This provides a new complication for UVA’s argument that its delay and withholding of records are consistent with practice and the Commonwealth’s FOI Act, regarding ATI’s long-stalled (more than 4 ½ months) request.

The distinctions between how these two universities responded are inescapable, and paint UVA’s continued reticence in a very bad light. First, in response to requests for records of like kind and quality, one state institution – GMU – promptly and cooperatively executed its obligations under FOIA, providing approximately 3,000 pages of responsive records to USA Today within 14 days, without charge. Meanwhile the other, UVA, failed to produce records for months; refused to abide by a reasonable production schedule; claimed exemptions in the FOIA law that do not apply to Mann’s case; and imposed on ATI a financial hurdle of thousands of dollars. UVA only started providing records after ATI sued for compliance.

Second, the subject of the request to UVA, Michael Mann, is a leading voice in the global warming grant-seeking and policy advocacy industry. In contrast the subject of the GMU request is Edward Wegman, who co-authored a report at Congress’s request that exposed the statistical methods employed (and ignored) by Mann, et al. The report also revealed how a small group of related professionals have turned peer-review in climate science into an almost meaningless and sometimes perverse “pal review.”

ATI learned of this troubling disparity through another request for records, after a review of national news stories that addressed Wegman’s records. Unlike ATI’s FOIA, the GMU inquiry prompted no outcry from groups such as the ACLU, American Association of University Professors (AAUP), and American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), all which claimed to be outraged out of principle at the prospect of the release of similar records for Mann.

ATI requested from GMU copies of potential correspondence from ACLU, AAUP, or AAAS regarding the Wegman case, to determine whether the activist groups had lodged similar complaints about the release of Wegman’s records. GMU informed ATI that no such records existed.

“All of this affirms the hypocrisy of claimed outrage over the application of Virginia’s FOIA to the records we seek from UVA,” said Christopher Horner, director of litigation for ATI’s Environmental Law Center. “Obviously UVA and these intervening groups believe FOIA is uniquely designed to allow the selective shielding of records, ones the global warming industry deems ad hoc must be kept from the public at all costs.”

After an inquiry by a Washington Post editorial writer, ATI fully briefed him on the law’s letter, spirit and typical implementation as evidenced by GMU’s records release – and that no activists took issue with that Virginia university releasing the records of the less politically correct. But the Post had no interest in the relevant facts, or in their own double standard, as was illustrated in an editorial published on Memorial Day in which the newspaper criticized ATI’s supposed “misuse” of FOIA and “harassment” of climate change researchers.

Last week ATI’s request for Mann’s records went before a Prince William County judge, who ordered that UVA provide the taxpayer-underwritten records to ATI in electronic form within 90 days. In addition ATI has won the right, under a protective order, to look at all the documents beginning no later than September 21, including those the University refuses to make public via claimed exemptions.

“Our claim is about nothing more than execution of the FOIA law as written, and as it has been applied elsewhere,” said David Schnare, director of ATI’s Environmental Law Center. “UVA must soon defend its decision to keep the public in the dark. It may want to take a hard look at what GMU released as they set one standard of performance the public now expects UVA to meet.”

To view all documents and media coverage of ATI v. University of Virginia, visit ATI’s special Law Center page for the case ( http://www.atinstitute.org/american-tradition-institute-v-university-of-virginia-dr-michael-mann/ ).

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23 Responses to Virginia university releases correspondence of professor involved in ‘Hockey Stick’ controversy

  1. Wouldn’t it be supremely ironic if something in the Wegman FOI files, turned out to be another blow to the reputation of FOI-reticent people like Mann and Jones?

  2. Keith G says:

    And shall we call this FOIAgate? At least GMU is living up to it’s namesake’s reputation as “Father of the Bill of Rights”.

    My expectation is that this will play out in the blogosphere, ignored by MSM, until suitable spin can be thought up. Then we’ll see the opinion parroted by big name columnists.

    Let’s see, can we outline it now…Wegman made himself a target by going to Congress…is a well-known plagiariser…public has a right to know. His Mannjesty is a humble professor, an innocent man who is being unfairly targeted by Big Oil. The FOIA requests were substantively different in scope and intent…right to know versus harassment.

    Buckets of whitewash are being pre-positioned concerning ATI’s query. And if ATI’s query comes up dry, expect no end to the columns on that!

    Anon to bed.

  3. golf charley says:

    I don’t suppose any Hockey Team players work/have worked in GMU by any chance?

  4. James Sexton says:

    Well, this is no shocker to people that understand our MSM is nothing more than the propaganda machine for the totalitarian leftist misanthropists. They have no objectivity. Wegman made himself a target, not only by critiquing Mann and his cronies/compatriots’ methods machinations, but also by (gasp!) complying with the wishes of a Republican congress.

  5. PhilJourdan says:

    I suspect the rapid response of GMU was due to the fact there is nothing there with the Wegman report. It is exactly as has been described. UVA on the otherhand, does have something to hide and is trying to see how they can weasel out of it. They are trying to spin turds into gold.

  6. DonS says:

    MM better find himself a metaphorical little Dutch boy to stick a finger in this dike.

  7. Crispin in Waterloo says:

    Maybe the result of all this will be reduction in the stink of denial that enshrouds these FOI requests. I understand that ingesting academic whitewash is one way to treat verbal diarrhoea.

  8. Marion says:

    An excellent example of the utter hypocrisy employed by these organizations in their treatment of pro AGW vs anti AGW. Well done Chris and Paul for bringing this to our attention, and thanks too to Anthony for highlighting it.
    It seems that the corruption among our political classes and media is endemic.
    In Willis’ words A ‘Pox’ on all politicians and their media cronies. Thankfully we still have organizations such as the ATI fighting for our corner.

  9. Gary Krause says:

    Good read.

    Maybe the “pal-review” will soon be seen as “pay-pal-review” which it is now seen as a who’s who in back scratching corruption circles tax payer fraud.

  10. A. Capitalist says:

    The problem for a cover up of any kind is truth leaks out. Information at GMU may look innocent enough, but if it points in any way to information at UVA that was not disclosed, then the persons at UVA have more explaning to do. This is where criminality is attached to actions that were previously just arrogant.
    Also, if the arrogant achedemics think to obfiscate with volume, the armies of Reynolds will rise to the analysis challenge.
    Time is on the side truth.

  11. kramer says:

    In my opinion, the reason UVA didn’t want to release these emails is simply to protect leftist politics.

  12. Nick Stokes says:

    We went through all this here. I’d recommend reading through the correspondence tabled on the UVa Site.

    The ATI demand was ridiculaously unfeasible. UVa responded promptly to point this out, and eventually ATI backed down to something that might be achievable. The current timetable is by court agreement.

    And what’s the whinging about charges? Should Va taxpayers pay in total for every new project that ATI dreams up for them. In fact, applicants bear only a small part of the cost.

  13. TrueNorthist says:

    Keep at it fellas. This should prove to be but the beginning of an extraordinary adventure in fraud and malfeasance on a scale unseen in history. What news is there on your efforts FOIA efforts with NASA GISS? One hopes the American Tradition Institute’s Environmental Law Center is planning to go after Mann himself as well… Better hurry. The hysterics might just convince the sheeple that you are simply harassing the poor devils. ;-)

    Godspeed!

  14. Orson says:

    Nick Stokes say, in part: “And what’s the whinging about charges? Should Va taxpayers pay in total for every new project that ATI dreams up for them. In fact, applicants bear only a small part of the cost.”

    WHAT about the publics right to know? Aren’t their interests served by openness in sources and data? Apparently august organs of science like Science and Nature, have if only belatedly, come to the side of light, reason, and openness. Isn’t there a public interest in cleaning up all the turds unveilled by Climategate? Or aren’t publicly funded scientists even as subject to review as the bureaucracies and elected officials they serve?

  15. Bill in Vigo says:

    I wonder what would have happened if the correspondence was/is on server the cost is. I would presume that since the public funded the projects from probably both federal and state funds that all the information has been paid for. If the institution in question UVa has properly archived the correspondence and other information there should be no problem releasing it. make the server password protected to write to but make fully accessible as read only. This is all foolishness on their part and in the long run will be harmful to the university. It only takes one OH CRAP to cancel out a thousand attaboys.

    Bill Derryberry

  16. omnologos says:

    Next on DeepClimate: “Nepotism sensation rocks Svensmarks’ cosmic ray theory“. John Mashey will reply detailing how according to an internet report, one of Svensmark Sr.’s great-granddads was spotted once with an apple in his hands at the age of 5, possibly forcibly taken from a neighbor’s tree (the neighbor will sadly not be available to clarify if the Svenmarks are not highway robbers, so that will remain a high-likely possibility).

    Then we will be told that “it gets worse”, with investigations of match-fixing in U-21 international volleyball games.

  17. PhilJourdan says:

    Nick Stokes says:
    June 2, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    No Nick. The VAG’s initial request was too vague and the court made them specify. Once they did, the goose was cooked. So the requests are comparable. The only difference is in what each wants to hide. Apparently GMU has nothing, and UVA has plenty.

    The only thing that WaPo gets right is its name – and then not always.

  18. omnologos says:

    IF TRICKY DICK HAD LIVED TO THE AGE OF 98 HE WOULD HAVE HAD THE LAST LAUGH ON THE WASHINGTON POST

  19. Nick Stokes says:

    PhilJourdan says: June 3, 2011 at 5:09 am
    “The only thing that WaPo gets right is its name”

    Well, you’re not getting much right here. The Va AG is not involved; you’re thinking of another case. If it’s that one you’re talking about, the AG hasn’t had any favorable decision yet. If it’s this ATI one, then no, most of the specifying came in the correspondence, which you should read. Later there was a court-supervised agreement on mechanics.

  20. Phil. says:

    PhilJourdan says:
    June 2, 2011 at 8:04 am
    I suspect the rapid response of GMU was due to the fact there is nothing there with the Wegman report. It is exactly as has been described. UVA on the otherhand, does have something to hide and is trying to see how they can weasel out of it. They are trying to spin turds into gold.

    Wegman has been investigated by GMU for 14 months for academic misconduct so he probably does have something to hide. Also he claims not to use his university email account but uses gmail instead so there might not be much there.

  21. R.S.Brown says:

    PhilJourdan says: June 3, 2011 at 5:09 am

    Phil,

    The ACLU, AAUP, UCS amicus brief:

    http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/scientific_integrity/4-25-11-UCS-Amicus-Brief-for-VA-Supreme-Court-Cuccinelli-v-UVA.pdf

    If adopted, even in part by the Virginia Supreme Court, results
    in the astounding situation whereby the University has begun to
    comply with a citizen’s “right to know” FOI request and reveal
    information that would at the same time be denied in whole or in
    part to the Virginia Attorney General because his CID request
    would violate the “academic freedom” of the researcher.

    The rotund female has yet to sing the final chorus on the AG’s
    investigation of Mike Mann’s applications and claims while he
    was at the University of Virginia.

  22. barry says:

    I don’t know why GMU is a paragon of virtue when it took a year to investigate Bradley’s complaint on plagiarism, stretching its own policies to breaking point. But hey, that’s as much a talking point as slow FOI rersponse. Fair play doesn’t count when people are out for blood. :-(

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