Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) doesn’t have the authority to get academic records related to the work of a former University of Virginia climate researcher, a Virginia court has ruled.
Cuccinelli wanted copies of five grant applications prepared by former professor Michael Mann and emails between Mann, his research assistants and 39 other scientists around the country, the Washington Post reports.
The state court’s ruled that the University of Virginia would not be considered a “person” under a state law called the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act. The court also ruled that even “reading ‘corporations’ to include UVA would produce the inexplicable and awkward result that state agencies operating as public corporations are subject to FATA while other arms of the Commonwealth are not.”
Cuccinelli, a global warming skeptic, defended his office’s investigation.
“From the beginning, we have said that we were simply trying to review documents that are unquestionably state property to determine whether or not fraud had been committed,” Cuccinelli’s office said in an email to the Washington Post. “Today, the court effectively held that state agencies do not have to provide state-owned property to state investigators looking into potential fraud involving government funds.”