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Cooch Loses Round One in U.Va. Probe

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Hard-charging Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli has run into a legal fence in Charlottesville.

Albemarle County Judge Paul M. Peatross Jr. has thrown out five civil investigative demands issued by Cuccinelli against the University of Virginia in his probe of possible fraud by global warming specialist Michael Mann.

Peatross ruled Aug. 30 that the attorney general had not shown that the CIDs were relevant and had not sufficiently “stated the nature of the conduct” that's allegedly fraudulent.

Mann, who left U.Va. in 2005 and teaches at Penn State University, says human activity has contributed to global warming. Cuccinelli, a staunch conservative who doubts global warming, believes that Mann fudged research while at U.Va. Cuccinelli is demanding data and e-mails from 40 scientists around the world.

The case has gained international attention and outcries from such groups as the American Association of University Professors and the Union of Concerned Scientists, which says that at least one of Cuccinelli's demands seeks information that has nothing to do with Mann.

The Charlottesville judge also ruled that Cuccinelli has the power to issue such demands against the university and could come back with revised ones.

Since taking office in January, Cuccinelli has issued a series of controversial opinions and filed several politically motivated lawsuits. Cuccinelli advised public universities to abandon anti-gay discrimination policies, claimed that the Environmental Protection Agency cannot regulate carbon dioxide, and that Christmas decorations can be erected on public property if equal space is given to other religions. On Aug. 2, a federal judge in Richmond allowed his lawsuit against a new federal health care plan to proceed.

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