Is Jonathan Gruber a Michael Mann without academic freedom defense?

Jonathan Gruber and Michael Mann are both professors who received taxpayer money while promoting what many believe is verifiable dishonesty.

Mann is the Climategate figure sued by Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli for obtaining state funding based on his “hockey stick” chart falsely representing climate patterns.

Mann’s hockey stick, like Gruber’s Obamacare schtick, was used for purposes of influencing public policy.  In the public policy arena, even false information merits First Amendment protections.  The cure for false policy information in our republic is the truth.

For his Obamacare consultations with the feds and various states, Gruber has pocketed nearly $6 million per at least one account.

Cuccinelli’s lawsuit was based not in protected speech, but in Mann’s allegedly false statements designed to procure state funding for his research and promulgation of his falsified “science.”

The suit was filed under the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayer Act (VFAT).  Mann’s employer, the state school University of Virginia, fought Cuccinelli’s demands for discovery on grounds of an academic freedom defense, also based in the First Amendment.  The case was dismissed by the Virginia Supreme Court on the peculiar finding that the University of Virginia is not a “person” subject to VFAT.  This was not a First Amendment decision or win, as portrayed by the left.

A fraud is by its nature a form of speech but is not protected by the First Amendment.  The distinction is that a fraud is a knowingly false statement that induces others to part with money or rights.  It is a harm the remedy of which is not merely the truth, but penalties at law.

VFAT is similar in some key regards to a federal false claims statute under which qui tam actions may be instituted.  A qui tam action is initiated by private individuals but prosecuted by the government.

State attorneys general where Jonathan Gruber has been paid for his Obamacare consultations may want to review how Gruber procured his contracts.

This should also make for some good questions to the prospective U.S. attorney general during her confirmation hearings.  Getting rich off presenting false information in the policy arena may be an American custom, but it should have its limits under common law notions of fraud.