For Immediate Release:
November 16, 2016

Contact:
Craig Richardson
Richardson@eelegal.org
703-981-5553

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal) was forced to file an open records suit with exhibits against yet another “Green 20” state attorney general (AG), this time Virginia’s Mark Herring.  Herring was an early signatory to the aborted political coalition among activist AGs to abuse law enforcement offices in an effort to silence opposition to the “climate” agenda.

This suit seeks portions of correspondence with and about ringleader New York AG Eric Schneiderman’s office, including discussions about the initial press event announcing the campaign, withheld as “privileged”.  It also seeks email with coalition member offices discussing their faculty lounge “outside advisors” who, public records obtained through other requests prove, encouraged these AG offices’ pursuit of a political agenda unattainable through the proper democratic process.

“Unfortunately, this is the sixth such action against these AGs that E&E Legal has been forced to file against these abusive AGs”, said E&E Legal Executive Director Craig Richardson. This is the first action filed since a federal judge ordered discovery against two of the participants, Massachusetts’ Maura Healey and Schneiderman, for the possible “bad faith” of pursuing this political campaign as a purported legal endeavor.  “These suits have all been made necessary by foot-dragging among participating AGs, agreed in writing among them in advance, and their often cartoonish redactions, withholdings and claims of legal privilege for documentation of their organized political axe-grinding”, Richardson added.

Documents show that on May 9, 2016, Herring signed on to the AGs’ secrecy pact attempting to shield their campaign from public scrutiny as a legal affair, a notion thoroughly undermined by the pact itself as well as  the coalition’s own recruiting letter.

One record in particular will prove particularly relevant to this suit, and indeed now to all related litigation fighting this campaign, and fights against the climate-RICO AGs’ efforts to shield their scheme from public view.  E&E Legal senior legal fellow Chris Horner specifically revealed the email’s existence last month, and it was originally released to the public domain after Horner and the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) successfully sued Virginia’s George Mason University under the same Virginia law, obtaining records showing faculty involvement in pushing these investigations against opponents of the climate agenda.

Buried in hundreds of GMU documents all written before this scheme was even formally hatched, nominally by the AGs, is a hint at how the abuse of AG offices came about. Peter Frumhoff of the green lobby group Union of Concerned Scientists — one of the subjects of U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade’s “concern” over the AGs’ appearance of bad faith — informed GMU’s Ed Maibach on July 31, 2015 that his idea of using the federal Department of Justice for a RICO campaign was a loser; instead, UCS were working on “state (e.g. AG) action”.  This was two months before the AGs’ supposed pretext for the investigations, a story in the Rockefeller-funded “Inside Climate News”, and four months before any AG issued a subpoena.

In another email recently obtained by E&E Legal, one more of the many voices from the faculty lounge pipes up, Harvard Law School clinical instructor Shaun Goho. Previously of the green litigation mill Earth Justice, Goho organized an April 2016 briefing on this plan for the AG offices, specifically to discuss going after “Exxon specifically, and the fossil fuel industry generally.”

Incredibly, Vermont is withholding this meeting’s agenda, not even drafted by it but by an outside activist, as somehow legally privileged. This absurdity likely translates as “highly embarrassing and best delayed as long as we can”. Still another email between Goho and Vermont Deputy AG Scot Kline reveals Kline stating, “Peter Frumhoff also mentioned

[the meeting] last week”.

In short, while UCS is busy claiming, with typical credibility, that it is now being “dragged into a legal fight between Exxon and the attorney general”, public records show they were in fact behind the abusive campaign that last month drew the first of what will likely be several judicial interventions before the reckoning is complete.  This not only places the AGs’ campaign, and the AGs themselves in their personal capacities in legal peril, but also raises questions about UCS’s potential responsibility in helping orchestrate this abuse on opponents of its political agenda.

Further specific to Virginia, other GMU emails obtained by CEI show a purportedly defunct left-wing Virginia group, RaisingKaine.comseeking and being put in contact with yet another academic activist, to help get Herring involved in using RICO laws to pursue opponents of the “climate” agenda. That same professor, Michael B. Gerrard, of Columbia Law School, has popped up in numerous venues advocating these ideas with other “outside advisors” found in these public records.

The public does not yet know what role outside parties played in Herring’s use of the public’s office this way. These are among the critical questions which E&E Legal’s suits — made necessary by UCS’s partners, the stonewalling AGs — aim to get to the bottom of to inform the public how their tax dollars, and authority ceded to elected officials, are being used to attain frustrated political ends.  One of the AGs’ other “outside advisors” openly boasted that this is the objective before denying it after his involvement in the scheme was exposed, including by E&E Legal in documents obtained under Vermont’s open records law.  Those documents were the principal basis for the discovery order issued by Judge Kinkeade of the Northern District in Fort Worth, on October 13.

About EE Legal

The Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal) is a 501(c)(3) organization engaged in strategic litigation, policy research, and public education on important energy and environmental issues. Primarily through its petition litigation and transparency practice areas, E&E Legal seeks to correct onerous federal and state policies that hinder the economy, increase the cost of energy, eliminate jobs, and do little or nothing to improve the environment.

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