Virginia Supreme Court Ends Cuccinelli’s Case Against Climate Scientist


Blue Marble readers are no stranger to the story of Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann, who has been the subject of a number of right-wing attacks over the years. (See this feature or this video for starters.) For the past few years, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has been on a quest to sift through Mann’s email and documents from his time at the University of Virginia to find evidence that he has been making climate change up.

But on Friday, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled that Cuccinelli does not have the authority to force UVA to turn over Mannn’s documents. He had attempted to use the “Fraud Against Taxpayers Act” to demand the documents in his efforts to find something to show that Mann had indeed committed some act of “fraud” in his climate change research. Cuccinelli, of course, has made it clear he’s no fan of the conclusion that the earth is warming and it’s caused by human activity.

Mann sent Mother Jones a comment via email shortly after the Supreme Court issued its decision:

I’m pleased that this particular episode is over. Its sad, though, that so much money and resources had to be wasted on Cuccinelli’s witch hunt against me and the University of Virginia, when it could have been invested, for example, in measures to protect Virginia’s coast line from the damaging effects of sea level rise it is already seeing.

One would have hoped that the fact alone that the Inspector General of the National Science Foundation last year looked into the allegations by Cuccinelli and other climate change deniers against me, and found that there was absolutely no basis to them, would have ended the attacks against me. But as I describe in my just published book The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, they are part of something much larger—a coordinated assault against the scientific community by powerful vested interests who simply want to stick their heads in the sand and deny the problem of human-caused climate change, rather than engage in the good faith debate about what to do about it.

More Mother Jones reporting on Climate Desk

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WHO DOESN’T LOVE A POSITIVE STORY—OR TWO?

“Great journalism really does make a difference in this world: it can even save kids.”

That’s what a civil rights lawyer wrote to Julia Lurie, the day after her major investigation into a psychiatric hospital chain that uses foster children as “cash cows” published, letting her know he was using her findings that same day in a hearing to keep a child out of one of the facilities we investigated.

That’s awesome. As is the fact that Julia, who spent a full year reporting this challenging story, promptly heard from a Senate committee that will use her work in their own investigation of Universal Health Services. There’s no doubt her revelations will continue to have a big impact in the months and years to come.

Like another story about Mother Jones’ real-world impact.

This one, a multiyear investigation, published in 2021, exposed conditions in sugar work camps in the Dominican Republic owned by Central Romana—the conglomerate behind brands like C&H and Domino, whose product ends up in our Hershey bars and other sweets. A year ago, the Biden administration banned sugar imports from Central Romana. And just recently, we learned of a previously undisclosed investigation from the Department of Homeland Security, looking into working conditions at Central Romana. How big of a deal is this?

“This could be the first time a corporation would be held criminally liable for forced labor in their own supply chains,” according to a retired special agent we talked to.

Wow.

And it is only because Mother Jones is funded primarily by donations from readers that we can mount ambitious, yearlong—or more—investigations like these two stories that are making waves.

About that: It’s unfathomably hard in the news business right now, and we came up about $28,000 short during our recent fall fundraising campaign. We simply have to make that up soon to avoid falling further behind than can be made up for, or needing to somehow trim $1 million from our budget, like happened last year.

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