Penn State’s Mann Under More Scrutiny

Also today Pennsylvania Independent reports that the American Tradition Institute, where I am executive director, has filed a Freedom of Information request with University of Virginia for emails and records that pertain to climate scientist Michael Mann, who now toils at Penn State. The Climategate scientist created the famous (and now discredited) “hockey stick” chart, which ignored the Medieval Warm Period and claimed a current unprecedented global warming trend, allegedly due to excessive greenhouse gas emissions. From the Independent:

Under the state’s Freedom of Information Act laws, the group is requesting emails and other documents which Mr. Mann used to obtain taxpayer-funded grants while at the University of Virginia.

Previous requests for information from the university have been denied and the school has spent more than $500,000 fighting a separate investigation into Mr. Mann’s research lead by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, said a spokesperson for ATI. The issue is now before the state Supreme Court.

As ATI senior director of litigation Chris Horner explains in a Washington Examiner op-ed he co-wrote today, UVA not only rejected information requests; they claimed they had been destroyed. But as a result of Cuccinelli’s investigation, the University revealed that the records indeed existed on a back-up email server. So ATI, joined by Virginia State Delegate Robert Marshall and Commonwealth citizen David Schnare, have requested the records on that server. Also:

Other records obtained under FOIA reveal that U.Va. has been paying Washington lawyers several thousand dollars per day to deny the requested transparency. As such, in a separate request, we also seek information about this privately underwritten effort to avoid complying with Cuccinelli’s inquiry.

Unlike the state law that Cuccinelli cites to obtain the records, Virginia’s FOIA requires compliance within seven days and does not have exemptions such as those the university is citing to obstruct (like “academic freedom”). So we’ll see what happens.