by Craig Richardson, President
As the fall wound down, E&E Legal pursued a number of public records request lawsuits in New York and Vermont, the states where the original AG Climate-RICO scandal co-ringleaders are located. In Vermont, E&E Legal pursued William Sorrell, who is no longer attorney general, for records he holds on a private e-mail server. He is represented in the case by the current Vermont attorney general T.J. Donovan.
On October 23, E&E Legal’s lead attorney Matthew Hardin attempted to depose Sorrell in Vermont after a Superior Court Judge’s ruling there forced him to appear after he skipped his initial deposition. Said Hardin prior to the deposition, “Mr. Sorrell and the Vermont Office of Attorney General have put up as many roadblocks as possible to this point in our litigation. I am glad we finally have an opportunity to depose Sorrell about his use of non-official email accounts and how that relates to how this now-disgraced campaign came about. Records filed with a New York court show that, at least in that state, donors were involved in the AGs’ scheme for many months before subpoenas to political opponents began to flow to political opponents of the ‘climate’ agenda.
Unfortunately, instead of answers, Hardin faced a stonewall. In his deposition, Sorrell said virtually nothing in the hour and a half he was present. Nearly every question Hardin attempted to ask was interrupted by Sorrell’s attorney, who claimed that her client didn’t need to respond, defying the Court’s order that he answer such questions regarding “the extent to which he has documents and correspondence on his private email account and computer that relate to the specific public record in this case.”
The next day, Hardin and local counsel then appeared in front of the New York Supreme Court in the latest chapter of an ongoing struggle to obtain public records relating to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s “climate-RICO” scheme to pursue political opponents from the State’s top law enforcement office. Our appearance in court was in fact a re-argument involving a longstanding Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request relating to this now-disgraced scheme after subsequent revelation of Schneiderman’s use of a GMail account for work, about which his office had misled the Court previously.
E&E Legal has been forced into an 18-month effort litigating under FOIL and other state laws to educate the public on how tis campaign came about, with whom, at whose behest — major players in which drama, we now know, include major donors, activists and contingency fee lawyers.
Specifically at issue is GMail correspondence between Schneiderman and his co-ringleader in his policy crusade circumventing the democratic process, former Attorney General William Sorrell of Vermont – also revealed by public records requests to have used a GMail account for work-related correspondence.
The described records sought involve the scheme these two cooked up to go after “Exxon specifically, and the fossil fuel industry generally,” as one email described the plan. This shakedown campaign, using the full power of law enforcement offices, recruited several other state attorneys general — if only briefly, until the open records requests started coming in — was launched with a press conference in New York on March 29, 2016 featuring Al Gore.
E&E Legal has been forced to file in New York and Vermont after what records now also reveal was a coordinated stonewall erected in the wake of Vermont’s initial compliance and release of records. That led to spectacular embarrassment of these ‘Climate-RICO’ attorneys general. A federal judge even shamed the two law enforcement officials, citing to those revelations.
It is this campaign that neither Schneiderman — nor Sorrell, based on his uncooperative deposition — want to discuss. In addition to using GMail accounts, and their staff telling outside activists to mislead the press about their involvement, Sorrell, Schneiderman and the other attorneys general sought further protection from open records requests by entering into a purported “Common Interest Agreement,” which was no such thing but in fact an attempted secrecy pact by which they hoped to keep safe from legally required disclosures.
As Hardin noted, “Once again, we find ourselves in New York, attempting to obtain records belonging to the public from the top law enforcement official in the state — an individual you would most expect to understand complying with the laws he is elected to oversee. Regardless of what e-mail accounts Schneiderman and Sorrell used, if such accounts were used to transact official business in their public capacities, they are subject to open records requests. Period.”
E&E Legal also opened up another front in the AG Climate-RICO scandal beyond New York and Vermont. On November 1st, E&E Legal filed suit under California’s Public Records Act (PRA) against the state’s Attorney General Xavier Becerraa for withholding all but one email showing or mentioning its work with partisan and environmentalist activists to use law enforcement in going after opponents of the “climate” political agenda”. Under Kamala Harris, California’s OAG had participated in the since-collapsed “Climate-RICO” cabal organized by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, but kept its involvement off-screen. The new AG, Becerra, has since suggested that he has indeed been working with activists, correspondence to, from or discussing which E&E Legal sought in its PRA request.
Specifically, in July 2017, E&E Legal requested records “concerning the Office of Attorney General’s work with private outside parties to pursue, as targets of investigation, perceived opponents of a political and policy agenda shared by the Attorney General and these outside parties.” The complaint specifies the public records sought, in the form of correspondence that was sent to, or received from, the Attorney General, or members of his Executive Office, and certain named parties or entities of interest because of their involvement in the AG Climate RICO scandal beginning roughly six-months prior to the request.
Given our experiences of delay and stonewalling in New York and Vermont, we expect the same treatment in California. As I noted at the time of the Sorrell deposition, “It’s clear we’re in this for the long haul, just as it’s clear the AGs are waging a campaign of denial by delay,. In a perfect world, the top law enforcement officers of each state would respect the rule of law and adhere to the same rules they impose on others. Unfortunately, Schneiderman and Sorrell appear more interested in advancing politics and ideology than serving the public interest.”