Climategate Scientist Backs Terry McAuliffe

Terry McAuliffe / AP

Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe is getting help on the campaign trail from climate scientist Michael Mann, the figure at the center of a scandal that came to be known as Climategate.

Mann, a former University of Virginia professor, attended a campaign event Monday at Virginia Tech alongside McAuliffe.

Critics said Mann's email records indicated that key conclusions in one of his studies on global warming were reached through questionable methods, including data manipulation.

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One email showed the team of scientists used a tool they called "Mike’s Nature Trick" to mask declines in temperature.

"I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (i.e. from 1981 onwards) and [sic] from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline," wrote professor Phil Jones of University of East Anglia in an email to Mann.

The resulting hockey-stick graph showed a drastic increase in temperatures in the most recent century after a millennium of more consistent and lower temperatures.

Former Vice President Al Gore featured the graph when he was pushing for a carbon dioxide cap to be included in the Kyoto Protocol.

It was Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, McAuliffe’s Republican opponent, who originally pursued further records.

Cuccinelli launched a "civil investigative demand" for all the research documents related to five state research grants Mann received while at the University of Virginia. The goal was to prove that Mann used state tax funds for an improperly carried out scientific study, and determine whether the evidence could amount to fraud.

A Virginia court ruled that Cuccinelli did not have the authority as attorney general to launch an investigation into university correspondence.

Mann's attempts to silence critics with lawsuits may have opened himself to legal attacks.

The National Review’s Mark Steyn referred to Mann, who now works at Penn State, as the "the Jerry Sandusky of climate change," and referred to his hockey-stick graph as "fraudulent."

Mann responded by threatening to file a defamation lawsuit against National Review.

"If Mann sues us, the materials we will need to mount a full defense will be extremely wide-ranging. So if he files a complaint, we will be doing more than fighting a nuisance lawsuit; we will be embarking on a journalistic project of great interest to us and our readers," Editor Rich Lowry wrote.

Larry Bell of Forbes agreed that Michael Mann might be leading himself into a legal disaster with his own lawsuit.

Not only is Mann a controversial scientist to have on the campaign trail, but he also may cause problems for McAuliffe when it comes to convincing voters in Virginia’s coal country to support him.

Mann wrote praising President Barack Obama’s war on coal in a Facebook post last week.

"His call for carbon emission limits on *all* coal-fired power plants, not just newly built plants, is a bold step forward. It will go some way to stemming our growing carbon emissions, and the impact they are having on our climate," Mann wrote.