Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Lawmakers Move to Limit Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's Subpoena Power!

"Charlottesville Democratic Del. David Toscano, said U.Va. founder Thomas Jefferson 'would be turning in his grave' over Cuccinelli’s actions, which he termed a 'fishing expedition' to advance global warming doubts."---The Hampton Roads Pilot on Line (1-18-11)

Julian Walker of The Hampton Roads Pilot on Line (1-18-11) reports:

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli got plenty of attention last year when he demanded records from the University of Virginia linked to the grant-funded climate change research of a former faculty member as part of an investigation into possible fraud.

Among those watching were three state lawmakers who this session are backing legislation to limit the attorney general’s authority to issue a subpoena-like instrument known as a civil investigative demand.

Leading the charge is state Sen. Donald McEachin.

The Henrico County Democrat has filed SB1314, which would strip the authority of the attorney general to issue CIDs under the state Fraud Against Taxpayers Act, the law whose authority Cuccinelli invoked in his pursuit of U.Va. records.

McEachin argues the attorney general should proceed like other civil lawyers: file a lawsuit if he thinks a wrong has occurred and obtain documents as it proceeds, not the other way around.

“No civil lawyers have the ability to issue a subpoena without articulating a cause of action,” he said.

The bill’s co-sponsor, Charlottesville Democratic Del. David Toscano, said U.Va. founder Thomas Jefferson “would be turning in his grave” over Cuccinelli’s actions, which he termed a “fishing expedition” to advance global warming doubts.

A spokesman for the attorney general said the office would review the bills before commenting.

Cuccinelli last April issued a civil investigative demand to U.Va. seeking documents and other materials related to five taxpayer-funded research grants involving professor Michael Mann...

Mann is now on the Pennsylvania State University faculty; he was a member of the U.Va. staff from 1999 to 2005. Academic reviews of his work have cleared him of misconduct.

An August ruling from an Albemarle County judge excused the university from responding to Cuccinelli, reasoning the attorney general failed to show why he has “reason to believe” fraud occurred, but found that the school is a proper subject for a CID. Cuccinelli has appealed to the state Supreme Court and submitted a revised document demand to U.Va.

A separate bill, SB831, from Sen. J. Chapman “Chap” Petersen, D-Fairfax City, would protect state colleges and universities by creating an exemption for CIDs targeting academic research...

Separately, Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel, R-Fauquier, has submitted legislation to amend the fraud law to specify the types of conduct for which a person could be liable.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Snapple, I very much appreciate your posts on RC and elsewhere (and here). It's not always easy to find a way to express individual thanks, so I'm doing it here :)

3:40 PM  
Blogger Snapple said...

Thanks Anon!

5:25 PM  

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