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Cuccinelli back at it again on climate-change issue

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli announced today that his office has reissued a civil investigative demand to the University of Virginia related to research conducted by former UVa. professor Michael Mann into global climate change.

The new CID has been drafted to comply with a judge’s ruling that had set aside an earlier CID attempt by Cuccinelli.

“While the CID was drafted to comply with the judge’s ruling, we do not believe that the ruling was correct in all of its particulars. Accordingly, we have noted that we will appeal the ruling while continuing our ongoing investigation,” Cuccinelli said in a statement.

The attorney general’s office is investigating whether there is sufficient evidence to warrant prosecuting Mann under the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act. If Mann knowingly used research containing manipulated or deceitful data to obtain taxpayer-funded research grants, he could be liable under FATA, according to Cuccinelli.

The first civil investigative demand made of UVa. by Cuccinelli was related to five research grants received by Mann in the 1999-2005 time frame. Albemarle Circuit Court Judge Paul Peatross ruled in August that the AG’s office failed to show sufficient “reason to believe” that the university possesses documents related to the grants and to Mann’s research suggesting that any fraud had occurred.

“It is not clear what he did was misleading, false or fraudulent in obtaining funds from the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Peatross wrote.

Peatross also noted in his opinion that Cuccinelli would have to limit the scope of any future civil investigative demand to the one research grant of the five being looked at by the attorney general that was obtained from state taxpayer funds. The other four grants were made from federal funding sources.

There could be a further limitation to the investigation of the one state grant. The law giving Cuccinelli the power to investigate Mann was signed into law in 2003, meaning any disbursements of grant funds before that date would not be subject to civil or criminal investigative review.

Story by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at