E&E Legal Letters Issue XII: Attorneys General Refuse to Release Public Records of their “Climate Denier” Witch Hunt

/, Conflict of Interest, E&E Legal Letters, Hardin, Inquisition, Persecution, Silencing Dissenters/E&E Legal Letters Issue XII: Attorneys General Refuse to Release Public Records of their “Climate Denier” Witch Hunt

Matt Hardin
FME Law Counsel

When Attorneys General from seventeen states chose to band together in a political crusade to “investigate” and threaten to prosecute those who disagree with their climate change agenda, E&E Legal decided to pull back the curtains to expose what the states were really looking for, and what might have spurred these investigations, which trample the First Amendment rights of dissenting scientists and policy researchers.  We submitted requests under various transparency laws in dozens of states, seeking correspondence between the involved states, as well as certain activist groups like the Democratic Attorneys General Association.

Remarkably, many states denied our requests for correspondence with other states.  Citing attorney-client privilege or the similar attorney work-product doctrine, states like Iowa, New York, Vermont, and Virginia all denied E&E Legal access to public records they had shared with each other.  While it is doubtful that their political undertaking to investigate dissent is a legitimate use of law enforcement resources, it is only the tip of the illegality of these states’ cavalier actions.  Because each state has its own, unique constitution, a state attorney general may only act on matters pertaining to his own state.  Thus, each state’s attorney general cannot represent another state’s attorney general, and such correspondence is not protected by attorney-client privilege or related doctrines.  Appallingly, states across the country are essentially breaking their own transparency and open records laws, laws which Attorneys General are sworn to protect and enforce.

To shed light on the efforts of these rogue Attorneys General to use law enforcement resources to prosecute political opponents, and in the face of massive stonewalling and improper denials of E&E Legal’s open records requests, E&E Legal has been forced to turn to the courts. We currently have suits pending in New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.  Undoubtedly, more suits will follow in other states that continue to hide public records that E&E Legal and the general public are entitled to.

In New York, E&E Legal requested records shared outside the New York Office of the Attorney General with seven private lawyers, donors, and activists.  When the Attorney General denied access to the records and following an administrative appeal, E&E Legal filed suit in the Supreme Court for New York County (Manhattan).  At the hearing, presently scheduled for September 29th , we will urge the Court to order the immediate release of these records, which will likely show the relationship of New York’s politicized Attorney General with the outside green activists who encouraged him to abuse his law enforcement powers in the first place.

In Rhode Island, E&E requested records shared between the Rhode Island Attorney General and others outside his office.  While no hearing is presently scheduled, E&E Legal hopes the Court will soon hear our arguments, and allow access to documents that likely reveal the use of state resources by politicians who desire to persecute political opponents.

In Vermont, E&E requested records shared between the New York Attorney General and the Vermont Attorney General’s Office.  After Vermont declined to even begin processing our request without seeking fees exponentially higher than permitted under state law, E&E Legal was forced to sue in Washington County Superior Court. A hearing is scheduled for September 22.

While politicians seeking to use state resources to silence dissent prefer to keep their activities hidden from the American people, E&E Legal will not back down. Our attorneys will travel the country for the remainder of the summer and into the fall to urge courts to enforce the very state laws that state officials themselves refuse to enforce or abide by.