Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at 10 a.m.
A climate scientist has fired back at an Orange County Register columnist who suggested he could be at the center of another ClimateGate.
, director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center
, Tweeted that a March 2 Orange Punch
blog post by Mark Landsbaum--in which the columnist wrote about the Virginia Supreme Court
upholding the Albemarle Circuit Court's ruling that set aside Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's
requests under the state's Fraud Against Taxpayers Act
for documents related to grants Mann received to study global warming while at the University of Virginia
-- was "libelous", and asked out loud if it breached the legal standard of "actual malice."
Cuccinelli is a global warming skeptic who is looking into whether Mann massaged data to receive grants from the government.
According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Virginia's high court ruled that the University of Virginia is not "a person" under the Fraud Against Taxpayers Act, and the term "corporation" in the statute does not include state agencies such as public universities.
Cuccinelli believes scientists and educators can't use academic freedom as a protection against investigations into whether they might have run afoul of the law.
Landsbaum wrote that legal avenues may be open in the Cuccinelli vs. University of Virginia case, and that some skeptics suspect a political motive in the court's ruling.
"Apparently this means if you ask for taxpayer financed stuff from a taxpayer financed government institution, you can't have it. Even if you're a taxpayer," Landsbaum said.