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Policy

UVA Challenges Climate Grant Probe

by Cheryl Hogue
June 7, 2010 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 88, Issue 23

The University of Virginia is pushing back against Virginia Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II’s fraud probe involving a climate scientist who formerly worked at UVA. Cuccinelli ordered the university to produce documents related to five grants awarded to researcher Michael E. Mann, who worked at the school from 1999 to 2005 and is now at Pennsylvania State University (C&EN, May 10, page 10). On May 27, UVA asked a Virginia court to set aside Cuccinelli’s orders, which scientists and educators have strongly criticized. The university argues that the state fraud statute Cuccinelli is using for his investigation does not apply to Mann’s grants. Four of the grants were from the federal government and the fifth, an internal UVA award, was made before the state law became effective. In addition, UVA says the orders do not, as the law requires, describe the connection between the reams of documents Cuccinelli requested and the conduct by Mann that might constitute fraud. The university also argues that complying with the orders would interfere with free speech under the First Amendment and policies protecting academic research and scientific inquiry from government intrusion. The attorney general has not yet responded.

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