Monday, March 12, 2012

Ken Cuccinelli's Quixotic War on Climate Science Finally Ends

Ken CuccinelliHow much damage has Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli done with his baseless legal attacks on climate science? The Washington Post editorial board surveys the damage done by Cuccinelli's climate witch hunt:
This month, after nearly two years of legal proceedings, the Virginia Supreme Court halted the attorney general’s investigation of Mr. Mann, who used to teach at the University of Virginia. Twisting a law designed to root out embezzlement of state funds and the like, the attorney general had demanded oceans of documents — including Mr. Mann’s e-mail correspondence — from U-Va. But, along with some technical legal problems with his demand, Mr. Cuccinelli didn’t offer any reasonable suspicion that Mr. Mann had committed anything resembling fraud — even as the attorney general proposed violating scientists’ sacrosanct freedom to conduct research without political pressure. Multiple independent reviews of Mr. Mann’s record have found that the professor did little more than participate in the normal push-and-pull of scientific inquiry. [...]

Now that the Supreme Court has shut Mr. Cuccinelli down, what’s left is a range of consequences that can only hurt the commonwealth. The university had to raise nearly $600,000 for legal fees — money the cash-strapped university should have been able to use for something productive. On top of that are the public resources of the attorney general’s office that Mr. Cuccinelli wasted. Scientists in Virginia now have reason to wonder whether they will suffer similar pressure if they publish research government officials don’t like. And, because of some of the Supreme Court’s legal findings, the powers of the attorney general to pursue actual fraud have been clipped.
Tea Party activists claim to stand for fiscal restraint - then waste huge piles of taxpayer money on political witch hunts. Tea Party activists claim to stand for freedom - then bully scientists whose research contradicts Tea Party political beliefs. Tea Party activists claim to stand for limited government - then work to pass laws mandating the invasion of women's bodies.

Fraud like Cuccinelli's is exactly what they demand. If GOP activists continue to let the Tea Party inmates run the asylum, we should only expect more of it.
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