Lawsuit filed in the #RICO20 case against GMU for 'denying' records exist

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Via press release: CEI Files FOIA Lawsuit Against George Mason University for Denying Existence of Records Related to RICO-20 Letter

George Mason University (GMU) faculty claimed “no records” existed in response to a Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) FOIA request regarding the involvement of Professor Ed Maibach in the RICO-20 campaign seeking prosecution of opponents of his view of climate policy.  Yet, CEI has evidence of such records. This prompted CEI to sue GMU over the FOIA dispute, which aims to inform the public about the role of Maibach in organizing the campaign led by GMU Professor Jagadish Shukla calling for prosecution of their political opponents.

Emails the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) obtained under the Washington State and Florida open records acts show Professor Maibach, a taxpayer-funded instructor of “how to mobilize populations to adopt behaviors and support public policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” used his University title, position and email account in the RICO-20 effort.  Numerous records provided by other state universities notwithstanding, GMU informed CEI that Prof. Maibach insisted he had no records responsive to the same request to that school.

Chris Horner, a plaintiff in the case and a senior fellow at CEI, said:

“GMU failed to adequately search for records related to RICO-20, instead entirely leaving the search to the most conflicted parties imaginable – the staff in question. Instead of producing records to the FOIA officer and arguing for exemptions, Prof. Maibach, according to GMU, informed them he had no such records.  Documents we obtained from two other schools so far show that to be untrue.  This is bad FOIA practice, but at least it illustrates to the public, and lawmakers, how this law is being abused and needs to be reformed. In the meantime, GMU must conduct an adequate search and produce all relevant documents to us.”

As CEI has previously explained, RICO-20 is a “September 1 letter from 20 climate scientists to President Barack Obama, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and White House science adviser John Holdren requesting a RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) investigation of “the fossil fuel industry and their supporters.” The scientists allege that the aforementioned interests “knowingly deceived the American people about the risks of climate change, in order to forestall America’s response to climate change.”

In May, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) called for a RICO investigation of “fossil fuel companies and their allies.” The scientists “strongly endorse” Sen. Whitehouse’s proposal.  Documents provided by two universities so far suggest the RICO-20 recruited this support — not for any legislation, but for his call to prosecute political opponents — in consultation with Sen. Whitehouse.

CEI’s FOIA efforts extend to each university represented in the letter. Today’s FOIA lawsuit was filed in the Circuit Court in the City of Richmond, Va. To view the filing and related documents, click here.

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52 thoughts on “Lawsuit filed in the #RICO20 case against GMU for 'denying' records exist

  1. I applaud action being taken to combat AGW hysteria and bring it to light. FOIA was supposed to make public data more accessible but has been openly subverted over and over to support the AGW meme. I don’t understand why more people aren’t enraged by claims of “my dog ate the evidence” and “it’s private information” (gathered using public funds) in connection with AGW. To the public you would think it would be an instant flag that something is amiss and the acts are attempts to hide rather than explain.

    • Mark
      Much of the public has not had a critical education.
      They do not see he need to ask questions.
      WUWT has helped me hugely in that respect!
      A – thanks (dramatically).
      Auto

  2. HAD CRU & Phil Jones made similar claims prior to Climategate. Nothing to see here for they are private and confidential. Yeah… we know the drill. Deny first, then claim privacy, then outright obfuscate, then someone leaks it all. Chris… go for it.
    Where is Snowden, Gucifer and Assange when you need them.

    • Where are Snowden, Gucifer and Assange when you need them.

      Well Paul I don’t they find it in their interests to reveal AGW intrigues.
      The information they put out for the most part is only intended to harm and embarrass Western governments. Little of it has proved to be a positive good.
      michael

      • …. I know…. you are right…. but somebody, whom remains nameless did it to Hadley CRU. So I will just refer to that person as SnowGucange for want of a better moniker.
        So… how are YOUR hacking skills?
        I lost interest in maintaining those skills a very long time ago and am very out of date. I could always apply for an IT job at GMU?

      • Little of it has proved to be a positive good

        I would disagree. Snowden revealed that the U.S. government was breaking the law in a way that was incredibly ineffective from a standpoint of combating terrorism and yet very expensive. Moreover, it exposed the admiral running the NSA as a perjurer. In the long term, these revelations were completely beneficial for anyone who cares about living in a free society without the tyranny of despotic or lawless government.

      • tarran,
        You are also right. Although a fantastic ideal, I don’t believe in “a free society” anymore. Michael Mann and Phil Jones proved it to be a farce.

      • Paul, I’m curious. If you no longer believe in “a free society,” what kind of society do you believe in? Is it one where you give up liberty in exchange for security? If so, you’ll end up with neither.

  3. A bunch of lawyers poking around can find stuff where everybody else has already looked. Well, that’s how it worked in Chicago, anyway.

    • I see the need for a required depository for such publically paid-for documents, emails, etc. I also see the need for an engineering-like act for regulating scientists that prescribes adherence to strict ethics and best practices for their work. For engineers (as with doctors, lawyers, accountants,..) there are disciplinary functions and the power to suspend the right to practice. These professions require public trust and are therefore regulated for public safety and honest, fair dealings. You have no idea the times I’ve been approached by dubious stock promoters in my career who want me to stamp and sign a report they have written or write one for them in exchange for a block of stock or several grand in cash!
      Scientists have traditionally come into the picture as individual researchers (almost the entire foundation of science has been laid by such individuals of past centuries). This is essentially no longer the case. Mission oriented science today is for an employer/client. The self motivated individual scientist’s work had to be replicated and it sank or swam on the findings. No one was simply trusted. We aren’t a trustworthy species.
      Today, there is too much self interest that gets in the way and creates cliques of clubby researchers who vet each others stuff. Is this a new outrage in human behaviour? No. Grants for mission oriented research and the pressure for these and pre-decided desired outcomes from fellow researchers, academic bosses and clients makes for too tempting an atmosphere for ‘successful’ research, however it can be done, particularly in the softer sciences with elastic data. The need for a Scientists Act for regulating practice is long overdue and the harm that dishonest or just poor science can do to society has become enormous.
      A telling example of the degree of trust individuals and regulators have is to be found in antitrust laws which cover collusion on prices, rigging of bids and market allocation schemes. Indeed, if officials of a company are known to have had dinner together, private meetings or the like, it will trigger an antitrust action. The principal is: if officials of two or more companies HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY to engage in these schemes, they are deemed guilty of it!!! The incentive and rewards are potentially very large for firms in an industry to engage in it and the law provides high impact penalties for it. If only one of the damning CRU-type emails were found to exist between the presidents of Exxon and BP, that would have cost these companies billions and jail time.

      • I see the need for a required depository for such publically paid-for documents
        If CAGW can be considered the “number one security concern in the world” then conceivably the data related to the cause could be deemed as “sensitive” and therefore secret, no?

      • The problem with any regulatory body intended to enforce professional ethics is it becomes a target for takeover by political partisans. Or a target for subversion by established industry players to protect themselves from competition.

      • PiperPaul – Sensitive information is kept secret to prevent the enemy from knowing that you have it, and what it is. When climate is the enemy, there is no need for secrecy – it is quite difficult to see how the climate could use the data in order to become worse. (The climate, that is, not the climate models.).

      • I see the need for a required depository for such publically paid-for documents, emails, etc. I also see the need for an engineering-like act for regulating scientists that prescribes adherence to strict ethics and best practices for their work. For engineers (as with doctors, lawyers, accountants,..) there are disciplinary functions and the power to suspend the right to practice. “, Gary Pearse

        If nothing else they are playing fast and loose with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure,

        Penalties of not following FRCP eDiscovery Requirements:
        As outlined in Section V, Rule 37 “Failure to Make or Cooperate in Discovery; Sanctions,” penalties include paying for the expenses of the opposing party, contempt of court, imposing of sanctions against your case, heavy fines, or even an automatic guilty verdict.
        How Your Organization can comply with FRCP Standards:
        Organizations need to know exactly where data is stored, what data storage technology is used to backup and archive records, how the retention schedule applies, how and when they are recycled, how long it will take to produce them, and in what formats they can be produced.
        Another important shift brought about by the new Rule 26 is the courts’ increased emphasis on identifying and preserving relevant ESI. Organizations not only must know the terrain of their records management landscape” including email and instant messages “they must also be able to traverse it quickly and efficiently to control retention and disposal. If you can’t explain where you put your data, or if you can’t act quickly to prevent the destruction of potential evidence, you face sanctions or worse. Your IT team must be aware of this The Law Requires Email Archiving

        Basically if your in any kind of enterprise that could conceivably result in you being involved in Federal Litigation, like breathing for an example, you had not only better keep all communications stored for at least 7 years, 37 if a bloodborne pathogen could be involved, you need to be able to find the ones they are requesting as part of discovery.

      • Yes, “regulation” for medical doctors is going well… for shutting up concerns about vaccines!

  4. FOIA is starting to look a lot like campaign finance reform that one political party took all the credit for in multiple rounds in pursuing and then subverting. Getting the credit for undertaking the reform agenda does not make up for subverting it later when it’s convenient to do so. See Richard Windsor and Lois Lerner for details.

  5. What puzzles me is FOIA is intended specifically to get around the very reasons these agencies withhold information. Else why have FOIA?

    • The analogy to Hillary is a good one.
      ““GMU failed to adequately search for records related to RICO-20, instead entirely leaving the search to the most conflicted parties imaginable – the staff in question. Instead of producing records to the FOIA officer and arguing for exemptions, Prof. Maibach, according to GMU, informed them he had no such records.”
      Just like the Clinton staff decided which e-mails were “personal” and which were state department related. And then deleted the ones her staff thought were personal, in violation of a congressional request for the documents.

      • It is a lot harder to permanently delete data than most people think.
        I would start asking her staff under oath if they made a backup copy for “safe keeping”
        ie. To protect their ass if it all goes belly up on Hillary.

      • Now where are the financial records for Penn central? On a railway car some where I bet. Where is that railway car? It may never be found, or at least for the foreseeable future. As if this hasn’t been done before.

  6. {bold emphasis mine – John Whitman}
    Chris Horner, a plaintiff in the case and a senior fellow at CEI, said:
    “GMU failed to adequately search for records related to RICO-20, instead entirely leaving the search to the most conflicted parties imaginable – the staff in question. Instead of producing records to the FOIA officer and arguing for exemptions, Prof. Maibach, according to GMU, informed them he had no such records. Documents we obtained from two other schools so far show that to be untrue. This is bad FOIA practice, but at least it illustrates to the public, and lawmakers, how this law is being abused and needs to be reformed. In the meantime, GMU must conduct an adequate search and produce all relevant documents to us.”

    Has CEI yet posted online somewhere the “Documents we obtained from two other schools so far show that [Prof Maibach’s claim] to be untrue.”?
    John

    • “Has CEI yet posted online somewhere the ‘Documents we obtained from two other schools so far show that [Prof Maibach’s claim] to be untrue.’?”
      See Exhibit B of the court documents linked to at the end of the main posting.

  7. It reminds me of when I was working for a local fire department. In our state an initiative was passed that supposedly banned affirmative action hiring by government agencies. When I was hired the order in which applicants were hired was based on their score on a written test, veteran’s credits and the date that they turned in their application. Minority and women applicants were then chosen for each class by three people in charge of hiring them from further down the list.
    After the initiative passed the people who were in charge of picking the affirmative action candidates were incensed. How dare the voters disenfranchise minority and women candidates who they were picking. Not even one class was hired using the older system. The way that applicants chosen was changed immediately. From that point forward there was no further transparency in the process. The determination as to who was hired was made by the same people who previously had picked the minorities and women for each class. From that point forward the department just hired anyone they wanted who got a “passing” score on the written and agility tests. Of course the number of people who were relatives of people already working on the department went up dramatically as did the number of women and minorities hired. Things were less fair than they had been previously.
    When a law is passed that liberals don’t like they simply find away to subvert it and actually make things worse.

    • I don’t remember the state, but the courts recently eliminated the physical requirements tests for police officers. Not enough women were passing them.

  8. If you were a computer salesman and had an inventory of hard drives to move, your marketing ploy would be simple. Simply arrange for a legal demand for some emails, and watch the hard drives crashing all over the place. Sell the replacement drives and collect your commision.
    Simple, easy, fun.

  9. Professor Maibach, a taxpayer-funded instructor of “how to mobilize populations to adopt behaviors and support public policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions,”

    Who knew that was a thing?

  10. Well, if the Rico 20 was asking for data from Exxon, and Exxon said they didn’t have it, it’d be national news. I can see no reason that NOAA/NASA or anyone else involved shouldn’t trun over any information that is ask for. Hiding something? Of course when there is fraud involved the guilty party is going to say things like scientists need freedom, or its a form of intimidation, or somebody is threatening them. It’s not me, it’s those deiners! I think the use of the word deiner says it all. Or the call to silence skeptics by any means necessary. The science of CAGW just doesn’t stand up to examination.

    • For each dirty trick the dirty climaters try to justify, just put Exxon or Monsanto instead of NOAA and try to imagine the outrage.

      • There’s a game we like to play, “Imagine if a Republican did it”. Sounds quite similar.
        It goes like this, Imagine if a Republican presidential candidate were to illegally use a private, unsecure e-mail server to conduct all of his business while secretary of state. Furthermore, imagine that when leaving office you didn’t turn over any of your files to the state dept until a congressional committee demanded them.
        Not only that, but you had your staff review all the e-mails and only turn over those that passed review and destroyed all the others.
        Finally, instead of turning over the e-mails directly, you printed them out and turned over the printouts making all of the meta-data unavailable and meaning the e-mails can’t be searched until someone can enter them back into a computer.

    • The funny thing is you’re right. The funniest thing is that unlike in this case the Rico 20 wouldn’t be entitled to any information from Exxon without going through the legal system. That still wouldn’t stop the faux outrage.

      • So you don’t mind when your side ignores the law?
        Exxon’s papers are private, govt papers are not and never have been.
        That’s a big difference that the partisan’s love to ignore.

    • Humans are a contumacious bunch. For every rule, they seem to have a compulsion to violate it – from “one shall not use the ‘D’ word on this website” to “one shall not tell the Commies how to make an H-bomb.”
      Nature, of course, is even worse – she ignores the rule makers. From the average temperature of an insignificant planet in a medium-sized galaxy to the “impossible” conditions inside a black hole.
      Frustrates the would-be rule-makers no end. GOOD!

  11. All attempts to prosecute warmists from way way back have failed miserably including the Enterprise Institute ect, Shukla, RICO ect, Congress cannot even get NOAA to cough up documents. All attempts in Australia BOM NZ ect have all failed. IZero chance of success here as well. Only a change of USA government ie TRUMP or Cruz might do something, which will not happen anyway. So my advice is just give up a let the world freeze and have your kids live in eternal poverty during the next few decades LOL

    • Perhaps Eliza, but for myself I’m not quite ready to give up. Besides just by existing skeptics tend to throw the alarmist camp into a tizzy, what, with all their screeching and foaming at the mouth it might just be worth the effort. I mean if the alarmists are going to destroy the civilized world at least they should be made to provide some comic relief.
      michael

  12. Go CEI!
    Sheldon Outhouse, his friends at various universities, and the New York AG are attempting to make the law a hammer to smite their political foes. It is the last phase of getting society’s institutions “into gear”
    We are the happy sand in that gigantic gear box of bull.

  13. I saw on the Washington Post that Gavin is boasting that the judge threw out CEI’s claim to his e-mails. Of course this is half true. The judge threw out the claim to all of his @columbia.edu e-mail and found that those that were pertinent had already been released. The judge however did rule that his entire NASA account was public record. Gavin left that part out.

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