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Va. Attorney General Issues New Demand to University for Climate-Research Documents

Virginia’s attorney general, Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, has reissued a controversial demand for documents that he says may show that a prominent climate scientist, Michael E. Mann, violated a Virginia fraud statute in applying for a research grant while he was a faculty member at the University of Virginia. The new request, first reported by The Washington Post, comes a month after a state judge threw out Mr. Cuccinelli’s original demand that the university turn over a decade’s worth of documents, saying that it had failed to explain the allegations under investigation and that four of the five grants Mr. Cuccinelli said he was investigating were federal grants not covered by the state law, while the fifth grant was made before the law took effect, in 2003.

In his new demand, Mr. Cuccinelli omits the four federal grants, but says that “claims for payment and at least some payment” under the fifth grant occurred after the law took effect. He also details the allegations against Mr. Mann, now a faculty member at Pennsylvania State University at University Park, saying that the application for the fifth grant included references to two papers “which Dr. Mann knew or should have known contained false information, unsubstantiated claims, and/or were otherwise misleading.” The complaint adds that “some of the conclusions of the papers demonstrate a complete lack of rigor regarding the statistical analysis of the alleged data, meaning that the result reported lacked statistical significance without a specific statement to that effect.” The university has until October 29 to produce the documents, which include all correspondence from 1999 through 2006 between Mr. Mann and 39 other researchers, as well as all correspondence between Mr. Mann and research assistants, secretaries, and administrative-staff members.

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