Terry McAuliffe's guest at Virginia Tech raises eyebrows

Virginia’s Democratic nominee for governor, Terry McAuliffe, visited Blacksburg Monday for a tour of Virginia Tech’s campus and brought along a special guest; former University of Virginia climate scientist Michael Mann.

Remember him?

He was the target in 2010 of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, McAuliffe’s Republican opponent, about his research into global warming.

Here’s a brief refresher course, courtesy of today’s Roanoke Times:

Cuccinelli issued a “civil investigative demand” — similar to a subpoena — seeking emails and other documents related to five research grants Mann obtained while at UVa, where the scientist worked from 1999 to 2005. The case eventually went to the Virginia Supreme Court, which ruled that Cuccinelli did not have the authority to issue a civil investigative demand against UVa. The fight cost UVa $570,000, which it paid out of private funds.

Mann is one of the authors of the so-called “hockey stick” graph that illustrates how global temperatures rose in the last century as industrialization and fossil fuel consumption increased. An email by Mann that referred to a “statistical trick” in his research was among documents stolen from a British university in 2009. Global warming skeptics have used some of the documents to argue that climate change research has been manipulated. Multiple inquiries have produced no findings that Mann manipulated data. Mann today works at Penn State University.”

Mann obviously was a strategic choice for McAuliffe, whose views on the coal industry and its potentially harmful effects on the environment aren't quite as popular in coal-friendly southwestern Virginia.

That’s a part of the state that seems decidedly out of reach for McAuliffe, yet he nevertheless sought to curry favor in an academic setting with Mann.

In brief remarks, Mann said, "It’s sad that the state university system is under threat from an attorney general. It sends a chilling message.”

Cuccinelli spokesperson Anna Nix later release a written statement saying that the presence of the global-warming guy is proof that McAuliffe “will not protect Virginia’s coal industry and the tens of thousands of people who depend on it.”

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