12 Aug (FORBES) – Whoever came up with the saying, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” obviously knew nothing about the fury of panhandlers for public funding being asked to actually account for what they did with their taxpayer handouts.
by James Taylor
Global warming activist Michael Mann is taking this fury to a new level this summer, seeking vengeance on government officials who would like to know what Mann did with the millions of dollars he sucked out of the public trough.
Mann’s career is dependent on taxpayer handouts. He draws his salary from a public university, Penn State. He solicits government grant money to carry out special research projects. Government officials, who are accountable to voters for how they spend the tax money they collect, occasionally follow up on taxpayer concerns that government funding recipients appear to be misusing government funds. This, apparently, makes Mann furious.
Mann’s fury emanates from Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli looking into how Mann spent over a million dollars in public funding when he was employed by the University of Virginia. After receiving complaints that Mann was manipulating data to obtain government grants, Cuccinelli asked him to share with him information and data relating to the grants. Mann refused, saying he had privacy rights against government officials inquiring about how he spent government money. He also attacked Cuccinelli for being “anti-science.”
Appalled at Mann’s hostility to government-funding transparency, which also seemed to validate that Mann had something to hide regarding his use of government funds, Cuccinelli moved to require Mann to share his taxpayer-funded information and data. Mann ultimately prevailed in the dispute, convincing the Virginia Supreme Court that Cuccinelli could not require him to share the information because Cuccinelli’s authority does not extend to transparency issues regarding government agency funding. Conveniently for Mann, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled the University of Virginia qualified as a state “agency.”
Not content to graciously accept his legal victory and his avoidance of government funding transparency, Mann took to the campaign trail, pursuing a personal vendetta against Cuccinelli. Travelling from Pennsylvania to inject himself in the Virginia gubernatorial race, Mann campaigned with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, who is doing his best to sweep under the rug his own scandals.
Appearing with McAuliffe at a campaign event in Charlottesville, Mann charged that “The attorney general came after me.” “This is the same individual who attacked me,” Mann kept complaining.
Mann appeared on MSNBC, saying, “You have Ken Cuccinelli, someone who views science as something to attack if it doesn’t comport with his ideological views or the views of the special interest that funds his campaigns.”
Taking Mann’s attacks a step further, the McAuliffe campaign released a television ad accusing Cuccinelli of leading a “witch hunt” for investigating the complaints of Mann abusing taxpayer funding.
Ironically, Mann’s personal vendetta against Cuccinelli is likely to backfire on the McAuliffe campaign. At a time when Virginians are growing weary of McAuliffe’s mounting scandals, it seems counterproductive for McAuliffe to piggy-back on Mann’s claims that government funding transparency is a horrible affront and burden on those who seek government funds. For people concerned about what McAuliffe’s scandals indicate about how he will or will not oversee government funds, does McAuliffe really believe he can connect with them by championing Mann’s anti-transparency crusade?
For the average voter, Mann’s outrage about being asked to account for his government funding is quite difficult to swallow. In the private sector, when your boss gives you a corporate credit card, he or she will require receipts and will examine your expenses to make sure you are not negligently or deliberately misusing company funds. Voters are unlikely to believe a different, more lenient standard should apply to people to seek out government funds at taxpayer expense.
And, by the way, Mann still refuses to disclose important information regarding his government grants.