New York, NY – The Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal) today filed a petition with the New York Supreme Court, in its ongoing attempt to obtain public records relating to Schneiderman’s “climate-RICO” scheme from which nearly all former AG colleagues have fled after open records requests threatened to expose the use of law enforcement offices to silence political opponents. Today’s suit involves Schneiderman’s GMail account which E&E Legal discovered, despite NY OAG’s misleading presentations to the court about such account use, during it’s 18-month effort to educate the public on this disgraceful episode using the New York Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) and similar state laws.
Specifically at issue in this suit are GMail correspondence between Schneiderman and his co-ringleader in the climate crusade, former Attorney General William Sorrell of Vermont (who, records now show, also used a GMail account for work-related correspondence, also the subject of E&E Legal litigation in Vermont).
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.
Today’s petition is one of nearly a dozen 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 recent deposition no-show in Vermont — 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.
“It’s clear that, whether or not Schneiderman and Sorrell were using GMail as a means of circumventing official government e-mail accounts in the hope of keeping official discussions away from public records requests, moving official emails to non-public accounts doesn’t make them any less public“ said E&E Legal’s lead attorney Matthew Hardin. “Regardless of what e-mail accounts they used, if it relates to official business in their public capacities, it is open to our requests. It’s time these two AG offices stop making open records requesters sue as their default position, a position openly acknowledged in emails E&E Legal has already obtained.”
E&E Legal Releases Video Telling the History of the Schneiderman-Led Climate Crusade
E&E Legal also released today a video thoroughly tracing the sordid details of this ‘climate-RICO’ campaign that aimed to silence political opposition to the climate agenda, while extracting a settlement fund that would underwrite various political constituencies — including the climate industry.
The video reveals how the entire scheme was sketched out by green activists and trial attorneys in 2012, funded by wealthy donors including various Rockefeller interests.
From that 2012 meeting in La Jolla, California came the strategy to emulate the global tobacco-settlement plan, only this time focusing on fossil fuel companies. What was needed, so these activists wrote, was an aggressive law enforcement official willing to use the legal tools at his disposal to get them documents. New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman fit the bill perfectly. Vermont’s Sorrell, a longtime acquaintance of one of the lawyers briefing that group, apparently was willing to go along for the ride — a ride his successor has abandoned even while stonewalling efforts to get to the bottom of the campaign.
The video traces how Schneiderman, after recruiting several other state attorneys general who also saw the potential windfall from the effort, fired off subpoenas for ExxonMobil records, while another went after a free-market think tank and policy advocate that had apparently proved too effective and therefore inconvenient.
“This scandal has it all, from major party donors using money and influence, engaging politicians willing to use their offices to advance a campaign-to-order against political opponents” said E&E Legal President Craig Richardson. “After seeing the history laid bare in our video, it’s easy to understand why Eric Schneiderman and Bill Sorrell are fighting so hard to keep these records out of the public eye. Their problem is they are breaking the law in the process.”
About E&E 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.