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Who Pays for Cuccinelli's Attacks? U.Va., Feds Push Back


Now that the headlines and sound bites are out, it may be time to pay the piper.

For months, Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli has been everywhere on the right-wing front, suing the federal government over Obamacare and trying to probe a former University of Virginia scientist over global-warming research.

Now there's push back. Cuccinelli's staff has been in federal court while lawyers from Washington challenge his health-care lawsuit.

The university's board of visitors has hired the global law firm of Hogan Lovells to fend off Cuccinelli's civil investigative demands, known as CIDs, to probe for possible fraud the research grants and e-mails relating to global-warming expert Michael Mann, a former university professor.

Sooner or later this is all going to run up some hefty legal bills. Hogan Lovells, with 2,500 lawyers in 47 worldwide offices, could be charging as much as $1,500 an hour for its U.Va. work, a Washington-area lawyer said.

Carolyn Wood, a university spokeswoman, says that “no state money is being spent by U.Va. in connection with its petition to set aside the CIDs.” Payment will be made from private money supplied by sympathetic people. “Last week we received a check for $5,000 in support of the university's efforts,” she says.

Brian Gottstein, a spokesman for Cuccinelli, says he doesn't know how much the probe of the university will cost, but the price of the federal health-care lawsuit is $350 for the filing fee. He says that no staffers have been taken off routine work for the litigation.

More clouds are gathering over Cuccinelli's probe. The Union of Concerned Scientists, an advocacy group, says that some of the civil demands include controversial e-mails involving Britain's University of East Anglia, which collects global warming research sponsored by the United Nations. The group says that some of the e-mails have nothing to do with Mann.

Separately, a British investigation the East Anglia controversy found no evidence that research was skewed in favor of making global warming seem more serious than it is, possibly undermining Cuccinelli's case.

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