Mind your Mann-ers


One year ago this week, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli launched an investigation to determine whether former UVA climate scientist Michael Mann violated the state’s Fraud Against Taxpayers Act. Mann, who received $485,000 via five federal and state grants for his research, is a popular target for global warming skeptics, who don’t like his temperature modelling.

UVA climate scientist Michael Mann told C-VILLE previously that he hopes UVA will “stand up against these transparent attempts not just to bully me, but to thwart the progress of science.”

Albemarle County Circuit Court Judge Paul Peatross ultimately ruled that the Attorney General failed to adequately show fraud—a ruling Cuccinelli successfully appealed to the state Supreme Court. Brian Gottstein, Cuccinelli’s communications director, says the court has not set a date, and at press time awaited UVA’s response brief, due by Monday, April 25.

However, in the heat of the moment, the American Tradition Institute (ATI) and Republican State Delegate Bob Marshall launched a nearly identical pursuit for the same items. In a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, ATI and Marshall requested all documents funded by Mann’s grants, along with the scientist’s correspondence with 39 colleagues and his computer programs and algorithms.

So, UVA complied. On March 16, the University began to cull Mann’s research and correspondence from a backup computer server—a massive stash of documents (see below). ATI paid the school $2,000 for an initial 80 hours of research; when, two weeks ago, UVA concluded its first round of review, it halted work and ATI agreed to overnight another payment.

ATI Litigation Director Christopher Horner says his group still awaits the first round of documents from UVA. Judging by the pace and the price of UVA’s research, ATI may be in for a long wait.

Counting UVA’s climate case

Total documents on UVA backup server: 34,062
Estimated time to review all
documents: 340 hours
Estimated cost of review ($25/hour): $8,500
“Potentially responsive” documents identified: 8,000
“Potentially responsive” documents reviewed: 1,000
Days elapsed since UVA began review: 41
Law students working on FOIA request: