Virginia attorney general Kenneth Cuccinelli II has filed an exhaustive investigative request with the University of Virginia, seeking records pertaining to research grants obtained by Climategate scientist Michael Mann. The Washington Post:
The civil investigative demand asks for all data and materials presented by former professor Michael Mann when he applied for five research grants from the university. It also gives the school until May 27 to produce all correspondence or e-mails between Mann and 39 other scientists since 1999.
The actions by Cuccinelli (R) -- who has sued the federal government over its regulation of greenhouse gases and has become a leading national voice in alleging that scientists have skewed data to show evidence the Earth is warming -- were cheered by those on the right, who have long targeted Mann as a leading proponent of the theory.
Mann, who (now) works at Penn State, was one of the authors of the "hockey stick" graph, a study that used a variety of data, including tree rings, to chart climate change. His research showed a rapid recent increase in the Earth's temperature.
Cuccinelli cites the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act as the grounds for his investigation, as the Washington Examiner reports today:
That law, similar to the Federal False Claims Act, is more commonly used to combat Medicaid fraud, said Zachary Kitts, a Fairfax lawyer and expert on the state law. Cuccinelli, however, has "really sent a message that he's going to use the statute more than his predecessors," Kitts said.
The threshold to be sued under Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act is not as high as a fraud case, Kitts said. Essentially, "all you got to do is make a knowingly false statement to get paid with government money," he said.
Mann was employed by UVA when he and co-researchers put together the now-discredited hockey stick graph, and the titled owner of "Mike's Nature Trick" which hid the decline in proxy temperature records gleaned from tree ring data after 1960. Mann and Climategate were parodied in an online video produced by Minnesotans for Global Warming, and Mann has threatened M4GW with legal action because of their use of his image. Junkscience.com's Steve Milloy has put together a devastating blow-by-blow account of how Mann and his enablers jiggered and altered the data to come up with his hockey stick, which really did hide the decline.
Meanwhile over the weekend the alarmist group PennFuture hosted a global warming conference (called "Creating a Climate for Justice") in Pittsburgh, where Mann was a featured speaker. The Pennsylvania Coalition for Responsible Government decided to show up with some signs and, with help from Milloy, were able to park a 12' by 30' truck sign in front of the reception hall, to provide an appropriate welcome for the decline hider.