From CEI’s web page:
CEI Defeats RICO-20 Ringleader In FOIA Lawsuit
George Mason University Must Release Documents Calling for Prosecution of Political Opponents
The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) prevailed in a Virginia Freedom of Information Act (VFOIA) lawsuit against George Mason University (GMU). The VFOIA request sought public records showing how the “RICO-20” group of academics, using public funding, organized their call for a federal racketeering investigation of “corporations and other entities” who disagreed with them on climate policy.
The judge ruled for CEI on all counts in an April 22 ruling in Christopher Horner and CEI v. George Mason University that the court released today. The ruling concluded that by leaving it to faculty who simply told the school’s FOIA officer they had no responsive records, GMU failed to conduct an adequate search; the judge also ruled that documents including emails from GMU Professor Ed Maibach must be released to CEI.
“This victory puts on notice those academics who have increasingly inserted themselves into politics, that they cannot use taxpayer-funded positions to go after those who disagree with them and expect to hide it,” said Chris Horner, CEI fellow and co-plaintiff. “These records are highly relevant to the state attorneys general campaign that these academics hoped for, and will be of great assistance to the public in trying to understand how their tax dollars are being used for political fights.”
In 2015, George Mason University (GMU) faculty claimed “no records” existed in response to CEI VFOIA request for records regarding Professor Ed Maibach’s role as a ringleader of the RICO-20 campaign. Other universities provided proof that the “no records” claim was not true, which prompted CEI to sue GMU over the FOIA dispute.
The RICO-20, including six GMU faculty, wrote 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.” CEI’s FOIA efforts extend to each public university represented in the letter. GMU is not the only school to falsely claim “no records” existed.
In May 2015, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) called for a RICO investigation of “fossil fuel companies and their allies.” The academics “strongly endorse” Sen. Whitehouse’s proposal. Documents provided by two universities suggest the RICO-20 recruited this support, not for any legislation, but for his call to prosecute political opponents, in consultation with Sen. Whitehouse.
In April, 2016, CEI was subpoenaed by the Attorney General of the U.S. Virgin Islands for a decade’s worth of climate policy related work. CEI is vigorously fighting the subpoena, which is an attack on its First Amendment rights.
Here is the order denying their appeal to the April 22nd decision:
The full court document: GMU-FOIA-Orders (PDF)
There’s quite a backstory to this, which we’ll cover later. -Anthony
UPDATE: Some emails are released in this document, they make for interesting reading: http://eelegal.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/img20160205_17361082.pdf
For Immediate Release:
May 13, 2016
Virginia Circuit Court Dissolves Protective Order on GMU Professor’s E-mail;
National Campaign led by AG’s to Use RICO Against ‘Climate Skeptics’ will be Revealed in Released E-mails
Washington, D.C. – Today the public came one big step closer to learning the truth behind how university professors launched “a national campaign” to have state attorneys general investigate and prosecute political opponents under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) — investigations which have now swept up think tanks and climate scientists who have dared challenge the climate agenda and claims made to force it into place.
Representing Christopher Horner and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, attorneys from the Free Market Environmental Law Clinic successfully argued that the public records of Professor Edward Maibach should now be disclosed to all, having previously been submitted to the court under a protective order. Having reviewed these emails under seal, we were aware of their connection and importance to the ongoing and expanding abuses by state AGs to use law enforcement powers to go after opponents.
On April 22, the Richmond (VA) Circuit Court held that the emails were public records, that they are not protected by any exemption and thus must be disclosed. Because they were being held secret under a protective order, and in light of the Court’s decision, today FME Law asked the court to dissolve the protective order and allow the records to be made public. The Virginia Assistant Attorney General, representing George Mason University, asked the protective order remain in place and that the ruling be stayed while it appealed the underlying decision to the Supreme Court. After extensive oral argument, the Court concluded that the appeal would most likely fail and thus it dissolved the protective order, allowing the public to view records about a disgraceful campaign that the public paid for.
Director of the FME Law Clinic, David W. Schnare, commented, “We need to protect the work of academics as set forth in Freedom of Information Acts, which laws make exception for information that should be legitimately protected, for example relating to research. But when professors voluntarily enter the policy arena, particularly in this case when they use their positions specifically to advance a political agenda, they are no different than any other government employee and the law treats them accordingly.”
FME Law, the Energy & Environment Legal Institute, and others should now look forward to publicly discussing what this information reveals about the ongoing campaign by text pair funded academics, lawn force meant officials, and major political party donors to use the offices of attorney general to prosecute and silence political opponents.
A total of 5 PDFs, 190 pages
Here’s another showing how they planned to use tobacco lawsuit tactics:
Here is the genesis of the whole affair. Shukla can’t believe the public remains mostly skeptical, therefore it must be a big oil conspiracy. Some scientist, op-eds replace factual research for him:
Here’s Shukla’s response to a tobacco lawyer meeting, seems his first effort into political lobbying turned into a disaster, as we see now:
“Don’t turn climate into God.”:
LOL! Union of Concerned Scientists bows out of climate circus they propose, doesn’t think it is a good idea to get involved:
Here’s the worst part – they knowingly tried to circumvent future FOIA requests: