Closing the book on Ken Cuccinelli, climate science denialist witch-hunter and Tea Party favorite

Virginia Governor's Mansion, Richmond

Virginia Governor’s Mansion, Richmond

One of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s political liabilities in his gubernatorial election loss yesterday was his climate science denialism — in particular, the high-profile witch hunt he launched, and lost, against Michael Mann and the University of Virginia. Cuccinelli’s reckless inquisition was always about his Tea Party political ambition — with the science community and the threat to the university’s academic integrity as collateral damage.

Today, Cuccinelli is down for the count while Mann is still standing.  The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines, his detailed and absorbing saga of the collision between climate science and the global warming denial machine, comes out in paperback today. (More on that in a subsequent post.)

John Abraham in the Guardian (Virginia governor’s race shows global warming science denial is a losing political stance) leads with:

In yesterday’s Virginia governor’s race, Terry McAuliffe’s win over anti-science Republican Ken Cuccinelli is showing that being a climate-change denier is a losing political position. Certainly the election was about many issues, but climate change was the most striking difference between the two candidates. Virginia’s voters clearly rejected Cuccinelli’s attacks against climate scientists and his head-in-the-sand views.

Ken Cuccinelli has a history of not only discounting scientists but spending taxpayers’ money to actively attack them. In 2010, he began a witch hunt and accused climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann of fraud. In the end, Cuccinelli’s crusade wasted hundreds of thousands of hard-earned taxpayer dollars – waste that Virginia voters did not forget.

Thanks to Michael Halpern at the Union of Concerned Scientists (Can Attacking Scientists Be a Political Liability?) for putting this up:

See Lowering approval ratings of climate science denialist lawmakers

A long post by Josh Israel at ThinkProgress (Why Ken Cuccinelli Lost The Election) covers a range of issues:

By defeating Republican nominee Ken Cuccinelli II in the gubernatorial election Tuesday, Virginia voters rejected one of the most openly right-wing politicians in the country. While he at times attempted to downplay his record, Governor-Elect Terry McAuliffe (D) repeatedly hammered the point that Cuccinelli was focused on his own agenda of climate change denial, anti-LGBT discrimination, restrictions on women’s reproductive health, steadfast opposition to the Affordable Care Act, and blocking any gun violence reduction efforts. …

He turned his climate change denial into an illegal witch hunt.

Cuccinelli’s denial of climate science was extreme enough — frequently asking his audiences to exhale carbon dioxide together in unison just to “annoy the EPA.” But as Virginia Attorney General, he took it a step further, launching anillegal fishing expedition against former University of Virginia climate scientistDr. Michael Mann. State courts rejected as unfounded his theory that Mann committed fraud in seeking government funding for climate change research. …

Some of our numerous earlier CSW posts on the Cuccinelli problem:

Michael Mann on “Ken Cuccinelli’s Cloudy Judgment” (February 5, 2013)

Michael Mann (photo: Jon Golden, Penn State)

Michael Mann (photo: Jon Golden, Penn State)

Virginia Supreme Court tosses out AG Cuccinelli inquisition on Michael Mann (March 2, 2012)

In a victory for university scholars, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled today that Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli does not have the authority to demand the release of email and other documents related to the work of former University of Virginia climate scientist Michael Mann. Cuccinelli’s global warming denial machine fishing expedition had been criticized even by climate ‘skeptics’ who are no friends of Prof. Mann.  It raised the chilling question of whether the university could protect researchers’ ability to privately and freely correspond with one another.

University of Virginia

University of Virginia

In defense of academic freedom against denialist FOIA inquisition tactics (April 15, 2011)

The American Association of University Professors, the Virginia ACLU, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and nine other groups have called on the University of Virginia to “[balance] the interests in public disclosure against the public interest in academic freedom” in its response to a Virginia Freedom of Information Act (VFOIA) request related to the work of climate scientist Michael Mann. Climate Science Watch joined in the letter to UVa President Teresa Sullivan. The FOIA request comes from a ‘free market’ advocacy group staffed by global warming denialists. It is identical in substance to a still-unresolved Civil Investigative Demand by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, and includes Dr. Mann’s correspondence with 39 other scientists. It also mirrors inquisition tactics being used against professors in the midwest in connection with labor issues and the battle of Wisconsin.

Ken Cuccinelli (Photo from

Ken Cuccinelli (Photo from

Cuccinelli denialist witch-hunt is about political ambition, not climate science (Part 1 of 2) (October 6, 2010)

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s renewed ‘Civil Investigative Demand’ for documents relating to research at the University of Virginia by climate scientist Michael Mann is blatantly bogus in its purported interest in scientific integrity. But it is transparent in its willingness to use legal bullying to promote a rising radical right-wing politician.

Cuccinelli denialist witch-hunt is about political ambition, not climate science (Part 2 of 2) (October 6, 2010)

Nine ways to undermine Virginia AG Cuccinelli’s McCarthyite demand for scientists’ communication (May 21, 2010)

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s effort to subpoena Prof. Michael Mann’s documents and e-mail correspondence with 39 other scientists would establish a precedent for essentially destroying the ability of university faculty to correspond with colleagues with any sense of confidentiality—a terrible precedent if it is allowed to succeed. To oppose Cuccinelli’s action with pushback on multiple fronts, we can think of at least nine kinds of action that can be taken – by Prof. Mann, by the University of Virginia, by the science community, by the media, and by others. Fortunately, a number of such appropriate actions are already being taken or are under consideration.

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3 Responses to Closing the book on Ken Cuccinelli, climate science denialist witch-hunter and Tea Party favorite

  1. Aaron says:

    I think everyone should be made to read this:

    How to Cure a Climate Change Denier.

  2. Turboblocke says:

    Thanks Aaron: I read the review as you suggested and it put me off buying the book. Good job, keep it up.

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