Uh, oh: Metadata goof fingers Senator Whitehouse in collusion between green groups and Senate Dems. Cover-up follows

From the “you really ought to learn how to use Microsoft Word” department, comes this hilarious boo-boo from a paid green shill lawyer that puts climate conspiracy theorist Senator Sheldon Whitehouse in the spotlight for collusion and accepting legal services in amounts greater than allowed by law. Gosh, where’s John Cook and Stephan Lewandowsky on this?

Senate Dem Report Attacking EPA Critics Traced to Green Pressure Group

Document scrubbed of traces to environmentalist group after Free Beacon inquiries

BY: Lachlan Markay

September 28, 2016 2:40 pm

A Democratic Senator moved to conceal his apparent behind-the-scenes collaboration with an environmentalist pressure group on Wednesday after inquiries into the group’s role in crafting a report accusing political opponents of doing the bidding of special interests.

A report posted on Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s (D., R.I.) website on Monday accused Environmental Protection Agency critics of being in the thrall of the fossil fuel industry. According to metadata in the report, the document was created by an attorney with a green group currently defending EPA policies in federal court.


After the Washington Free Beacon sought comment from Whitehouse and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.), one of the report’s co-authors, a new version of the document appeared online without digital fingerprints identifying the environmentalist attorney as its author.

The report, released on Monday by Democratic Sens. Whitehouse, Reid, Barbara Boxer (Calif.), and Ed Markey (Mass.), is written to resemble an amicus brief in ongoing litigation challenging Environmental Protection Agency regulations on carbon emissions from power plants. A federal court heard oral arguments in that case on Tuesday.

One of the parties in that litigation is the Sierra Club, a leading environmentalist group that enlisted the services of attorneys with the group EarthJustice to defend the EPA regulations in court.

David Baron, one of the EarthJustice attorneys working on behalf of the Sierra Club, appears to have assisted the Democratic senators in putting together their report on the regulations’ legal challengers. Metadata in the since-deleted version of the Senate Democrats’ report listed him as the document’s “author.”

The new version of the report was created at 9:42 a.m. on Wednesday morning, according to the document’s metadata, and lists Whitehouse staffer Gifford Wong as its author.


Whitehouse, Reid, Boxer, and Markey did not respond to questions about EarthJustice’s role in creating the report. EarthJustice and the Sierra Club did not return requests for comment.

Though the initial document’s metadata indicated the file was created by Baron, it is not clear what role he and EarthJustice played in crafting the report’s contents or the extent to which the group’s input made it into the final product.

It was also not immediately clear whether EarthJustice was compensated in any way for its work on the report.

Senate ethics rules generally classify pro-bono legal assistance as a “gift” subject to a $50 limit. Boxer, one of the report’s ostensible authors, is a vice chair of the Senate Ethics Committee.

Ethics rules make exceptions to the gift rule for pro-bono legal services provided to senators filing legal briefs in their official capacity. The four senators who released this week’s report also signed on to an amicus brief supporting the disputed EPA regulations, but their report was not an official legal document.

The report “demonstrates that the state officials, trade associations, front groups, and industry-funded scientists participating in the [EPA regulation legal] challenge actually represent the interests of the fossil fuel industry,” according to a news release on Whitehouse’s website.

EarthJustice has previously collaborated behind the scenes with leading environmental policymakers, according to internal communications released in response to Freedom of Information Act requests by the Energy & Environment Legal Institute, which opposes recent EPA regulations.

A 2014 E&E report identified EarthJustice as one of a number of organizations involved in “informal advisory teams of senior green-group representatives” that shaped major EPA regulations in internal discussions prior to their public release.

Chris Horner, an E&E attorney whom Whitehouse called out by name on the Senate floor on Tuesday, sees similar collusion at play in Senate Democrats’ report this week.

“Now we have documentary proof that its members have outsourced their policy-making and speech-writing to the green activists, signing their name to whatever is put in front of them, and using their office however these groups ask,” Horner said in an email.


72 thoughts on “Uh, oh: Metadata goof fingers Senator Whitehouse in collusion between green groups and Senate Dems. Cover-up follows

  1. What’s the Greek word for a government where you pretty much get mugged every day by a giant gang of organized bandits?

  2. Directly caught out. And filing an amicus brief to CPP litigation is not part of their legislative or oversight duties, so the legal ‘help’ is a clear breach of ethics rules followed, by a coverup of the breach (changed author). The coverup itself is a worse breach. And the now indelible evidence for it thanks to screen capture is plain and simple.

    • And the now indelible evidence for it thanks to screen capture is plain and simple.

      My advice to those involved is to own up to creating the documents and put some kind of harmless looking spin on it.
      The first temptation is to try to cover up their tracks. The trouble is that, if someone has the resources, the tracks are virtually impossible to hide. Having done computer forensics, I am in awe of some of the real professionals and what they can find. In this networked world, the files can end up anywhere. The other issue is that a coverup often has a much greater penalty than the original transgression.

    • I’m sure the Obama DOJ will also be investigating post haste.. And does anyone really think Senator Boxer (whose term expires with this Congress and not up for re-election) would recuse herself from an ethics committee investigation?

  3. Sheldon Whitehouse is a disgrace. Boxer and Reid are right there with him. It comes as no surprise that they often act as hand puppets for extremist groups. Good job of letting a little sunlight into the dark corners if our government.

      • My belief in why the Federal govt is broken and the political polarization in Washington is so bad is because of the abandonement of all ethical standards by Senate democrats since the House of Representatives fell under Republican leadership in January 2011.
        This is because once the House went to GOP leadership, impeachment of the President became possible for his violations of Separation of Powers and willful rewriting by regulation of black letter law. But removal by the Senate requires a 2/3 majority, which Democrats would block no matter what Obama did. (The precedent for that assertion was set by their refusal to remove President Bill Clinton for his grand jury perjury in 98.)
        The reasoning goes like this:
        Harry Reid made a deal with the White House to protect the President at all costs from any attempt to impeach and remove him. As a side note: In return Harry Reid got special favors such as appointment of his crony-hacks to key positions like the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the BLM, etc. Senate Dems went along with this colossal cedeing of their institutional power for ideology. ethics be damned.
        Congress’s ultimate weapon against an out-of-control President is impeachment and removal. But with this constitutional tool off-the-table, President Obama has been given immunity from removal and has thus been free to violate as much of the laws and constitution as he can get away with.
        Republicans and the courts can see this. Leading to much frustration and futile efforts with due to 46 ethics challenged USsenators.
        The media can also see this, but they choose not the report it. But most of the liberal media are okay with an unremovable, out-of-control President as long as he is doing so that advances Liberal ideological goals.
        This Senate democrat-created uncontrollable President has been at the root of Washington’s dysfunction and why Democrats will do anything they can get away with to follow Obama with another Democrat in the White House. That because most of Obama’s legacy is based on illegal/unconstitutional executive action that can easily be undone by executive action. A republican President would get no immunity from removal by Senate Republicans, as the senate dems have done for one of their own. Thus a Republican president would have to work Congress and end the dysfunction to advance his/her agenda. But as noted above, much of the Obama liberal legacy is executive action that can be wiped out on day 1 of a Republican Administration.

      • My belief in why the Federal govt is broken and the political polarization in Washington is so bad is because of the abandonement of all ethical standards by Senate democrats since the House of Representatives fell under Republican leadership in January 2011.

        That is certainly part of it.
        Another part is that 95% of the Republicans have no backbone. They campaign well, but have no intentions of doing what they say they will do. There are many things the Republicans in the Senate could do short of impeachment, if only they wanted to.

      • While I don’t disagree with the bashing of Reid (who is about as blatant in his corruption as you can get), I don’t think it’s right to let Repubs off the hook. If you say they won’t do anything to rock the apple cart because they have their own skeletons, then you are saying they are the same. If you say they don’t have the backbone to attack obvious abuse of the rule of law, then they are essentially complicit. Either way, they aren’t helping the American public.

      • Doug, Daryl,
        For Senate Republicans to “do something” would require going to Harry Reid’s level and finish off the filibuster completely. The destruction of the filibuster was of course a process that Dirty Harry started in 2013 when it became likely Democrats would lose the Senate majority in the 2014 election and thus he decided to help Obama get the DC Circuit Court of Appeals packed with liberals to support his “pen and phone” executive actions.
        Senator Chucky Schumer would love to walk into the Senate Chamber with no filibuster rule, a 51 seat Democrat majority, and a Hillary Clinton President. The Supreme Court would become a Progressive ideological rubber stamp in that scenario, and the Republicans could only blame themselves.

        • @Joelobryan – Since the “filibuster” rule is merely a rule, Chucky could do that in any case (and still may) regardless of what the republicans do. It is clear, especially with the SCOTUS vacancy, that Democrats have short memories and whine about the rules they themselves propose when implemented by the other side.
          The reason the Republicans do not do the same is it gives them an out, They can claim they “tried” (Do or do not. There is no try – Yoda) to their base, but were thwarted by the opposition, when the reality is they are already in agreement with the opposition.

  4. Is there a term for having one’s prejudices confirmed? I have thought for a long time that various green Senators had someones hand up their bu@@s, but this is too precious.

  5. This is not yet a St. Bartholomew’s Night, but these “democrats” are clearly attempting to democratically silence any or all opponents – including you and me. Any excuse is acceptable, except one: using taxpayer’s money inappropriately.

      • Don’t think so, China is slowly bailing out. I’m not sure who is buying Treasuries other than the Fed’s, a few overseas investors and possibly some pension funds moving some assets into cash.

      • “I thought they ran out of taxpayers money years ago? Isn’t it all borrowed from China now?”
        Only about half of the money the U.S. spends every day is borrowed money. Something on the order of $2.5 billion per day (if memory serves). Not good.

      • China has a collosal internal bank solvency problem. Leverage inside China is estimated to be at ~300% of GDP and maybe up to 30% of those loans are non-performing. In the West such a zombie bank would have collapsed. What happened in the US banking system in 2008 after Lehman Bros folded was sudden in comparison to this slow-motion unfolding liquidity disaster inside China’s domestic banking system.
        And PBOC is needing the capital quietly bail-out and to keep all these internal zombie banks from suddenly collapsing domino-style, thus they are forced to slowly begin liquidating their foreign holdings (US Treasurys) to raise that capital in Yuans to infuse their banks.

      • The only question is this: will China call in our debts before or during the revolution? Both are only a matter of time…

  6. Of course you Know they don’t see the slightest thing wrong with this. Ethics, like anything else, are ‘relative’ to these people.

      • They will be paid off as well. Sad isn’t it.
        Frankly personally I have lost all respect for “Grand Juries”, and the whole “justice” system and that includes the SCOTUS. The shenanigans over the past 2-3 years with Roberts, Lynn et al , are dark, dark days in the USA.

    • “Boxer, one of the report’s ostensible authors, is a vice chair of the Senate Ethics Committee.”
      @ Climate, as you said: To them it is all “relative” ( as long as they make a buck),
      You are so right. That “statement” truly says it all.
      These “people” do not have any ethics at all.

    • Interesting democratic concept..
      But in every civilized country, ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking it.
      Prosecute for everything and let a jury decide.

      • Wrong. The difference between first degree manslaughter (up to life in prison) and murder (life on prison, or death penalty if exacerbating circumstances) is only a split second intent to kill.
        Hillary clearly intended to avoid FOI. Whether she intended to violate national security is debatable, and Comey (a supposedly formerly upstanding guy) judged not provable.
        The legal problem is not intent. The problem is that protecting classified info is an absolute requirement under several federal laws. No intent not to do so is required. You did, or you didn’t. Spyies have intent. Goofups don’t, but are still punished severely. The laws were deliberately written to motivationally eliminate all goofups.
        Hillary got a pass from the present administration, and Comey is provably no longer upstanding.

      • “Hillary got a pass from the present administration, and Comey is provably no longer upstanding.”
        Comey has just about ruined his reputation over the Hillary Clinton exoneration, and the Congressional hearings he attended today, and the answers he gave, just made him look even worse.

      • I agree with ristvan, Comey has disgraced the FBI and should resign. Grants of immunity to everyone who might be liable for intentionally mishandling classified information was politics at its worst from an agency that should be beyond politics. It is a sad day for America.

      • An environmental attorney just happened to send this on behalf of a biased group to be signed by the Senator as an amicus brief, and you say there is no intent? You must think lies are lullabies. No wonder our national forests burn! Among other wrongs.

    • Similarly, if you don’t intend to get caught, it would be really impolite for anyone to investigate.

    • If a politician is liable for political decisions all political life dies.
      If an officer in war is liable for decisions then no more officers will make decisions – the war is lost.

    • There’s that tale with that finger wiping smartphones young people ever get smarter.
      Seemingly we just degenerate.
      [“ever get smarter”? or “never get smarter” with smartphones? .mod]

  7. Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
    “Now we have documentary proof that its members have outsourced their policy-making and speech-writing to the green activists, signing their name to whatever is put in front of them, and using their office however these groups ask,” Horner said in an email.
    Shock news – Democrat lawmakers in bed and colluding with environmental extremists, formulating draconian and over-reaching climate policies that are destroying jobs, entire industries and sending electricity prices to “necessarily skyrocket” – in the words of climate activist in chief, Barack Obama.
    A cold hard bust for Senator Sheldon Whitehouse et al, colluding with radical eco-extremist, green groups to run the trillion dollar, big government climate agenda.
    This is an economic and social scandal of monumental proportions.
    However, and yet again, the worst any of these climate colluding radicals will ever be accused of is an excess-of-virtue, in the name of “saving the planet”.
    Dangerous times we inhabit with such reckless and dangerous eco-zealots running the ‘free’ world.

  8. Maybe also point out that the second screen shot of the Metadata shows the document was created 2 days after it was released…

    • Are you saying the Free Beacon has forged the metadata? Or just that such forging is possible? If the former, then I guess the Internet has gone full circle and are now imitating CBS and Dan Rather in particular.

      • No, I don’t think Free Beacon forged the metadata — and even if I thought it, I would not admit to it, since that would certainly amount to conspiracist ideation. I was only pointing out is that it is easy to change PDF metadata, which could be used to avoid bloopers such as this one.

      • With the right tool, like pdftk, it’s not hard to edit metadata without telltale traces, unless the document is secured and you don’t have the key. Formatted text is harder to edit without artifacts, with certain exceptions.
        But when you’re making fakes you typically get one chance to get the details right, while the investigator can look at it many times.

      • These idiots aren’t using any advanced techniques. Notice the telltale “(1)” in the file name of the “new” version. This Giffard Wong simply resaved the file in his own name. However they apparently aren’t bright enough to know that multiple PDF files with the same file name get numbered. He should have changed the file name, or removed the original file.

    • Problem is, .pdf leaves an alteration trace elsewhere. That is why many fill-inable government forms (I am intimately familiar with IRS 1041 as executor to my fathers estate trust) or realtors using .pdf plus docusign (my significant other is a long time Florida realtor, and she has gone ‘modern’) can use elctronic versions without fear of legal repercussions. In your screen capture, take another look at top line, filepath. The last words are meta-edited.pdf. The edits and who did them are found elsewhere. That it was done is plainly labeled for judge and jury.

      • Rud, the file path displayed by the viewer is not stored in the file itself; it is simply the location on my hard drive from where the viewer loaded it.
        I’m not an expert on PDF security, encryption etc, but garden variety PDFs such as this one don’t have any. Apart from the metadata, I could also convert the file to PostScript, and that file contains lines like

        (. U.S. E)
        ( Protec)
        (on A)

        that could be hand-edited before conversion back to PDF. Not convenient, but doable. That doesn’t imply anything about the IRS forms etc. that you mentioned.

    • Think on this program to change meta data for a moment. It is a statement of the amoral times we live in. A world of lies and bullchips. Yeah there is an app for that, probably the highest selling app these daze. Certainly no public service was done here in alerting Alinskyites to another tool of deception.

  9. I do not see anything new, here. This was already well documented. I was reading a book by the special-inspector-general for TARP, Neil Barofsky, and he mentioned dropping a dime to his favorite congress-critters who would activate the media, etc. to raise an instant campaign for the cause. We know about the artificial “echo chamber” for co-ordinating such campaigns and making them appear to be coming from millions in the grass-roots when they are actively triggered by a few key individuals of a tiny minority of the populace. We have seen the mobilization of the riot corps several times, largely at tax-victim expense, to fan something tiny and local into national and international news.

  10. The Greenies pretty much took over the IPCC, so it’s only natural they would collude with if not corral some Congress Critters?

  11. …If this “document” was used by a government employee in his or her capacity as a government employee, would it then become an official government “document”, subject to non destruction / alteration laws ?

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