Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has told a judge that his request for documents related to the work of former University of Virginia climate scientist Michael Mann should be granted because neither academic freedom nor the First Amendment “immunizes” a person from a fraud investigation.
The university has petitioned a judge to set aside Cuccinelli’s “civil investigative demand,” essentially a subpoena, in which he sought seeking emails sent to and from Mann before he left the university in 2005, as well as information about five public grants Mann received while at the school.Cuccinelli made a lengthy response to the university’s petition in an Albemarle Circuit Court on Tuesday. In his answer, a top staff attorney for Cuccinelli rejects several arguments that had been made by the university’s lawyers–hired specially to handle the case, which has received national attention.
Cuccinelli notes some documents he has sought are public records that could ordinarily be released through a Freedom of Information request. He also uses Mann’s own resume to indicate the grants he has asked about were awarded through the university, even though some involved federal money.
But the core of Cuccinelli’s initial response is a rejection of the university’s position that turning over Mann’s documents would violate his academic freedom. The university had been under significant pressure from academics who believed Cuccinelli’s attempt to get the documents was part of a politcally-motivated crusade scientists who have researched global warming. “Academic freedom is neither implicated nor threatened by the CIDs” Cuccinelli’s lawyer wrote, arguing that academics have no shield against allegations that they have committed fraud.