|E&E Legal Wins Major Rulings in Two Separate Vermont Public Records Suits Involving AG’s Climate RICO Crusade
Washington, D.C. – The Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal) has two freedom of Information Act cases pending against the Vermont Attorney General’s Office for records relating to the notorious “climate-RICO” scheme among ideologically aligned, activist state AGs, first exposed by E&E Legal last April.
At least until it faced public embarrassment thanks to E&E Legal’s FOIA efforts, Vermont was the co-ringleader with New York’s Eric Schneiderman of the climate-RICO cabal, having sent a joint-letterhead recruiting letter to like-minded AGs on March 7, 2016, stating the objective was to “ensur[e] that the promises made in Paris become reality.” This referred to using law enforcement offices to impose a political agenda, one struck by going around the United States Senate in the form of the now-rejected Paris climate treaty.
Today, the group received favorable rulings in both suits.
Case #558: ‘Common Interest Agreement’
In the first case, “#558”, the Court ruled in E&E Legal’s favor, ordering release of records related to the now-infamous ‘Common Interest Agreement’ the Attorneys General signed in order to evade public record requests.
The Court rejected the notion that this agreement constituted a get out of jail free card for public record requests. The Vermont Attorney General had asked to categorically withhold all records. The Court rejected this saying “The [Common Interest] doctrine does not create a separate freestanding privilege.” Instead the Court ordered the Vermont Attorney General to produce all non-exempt information.
“This case demonstrates that efforts to evade public scrutiny will not be permitted by the courts,” said Matthew Hardin, E&E Legal lead attorney. “It’s absurd that these Attorneys General actually thought they could hide their political dealings behind a pseudo-legal agreement.”
Case #349: Use of G-Mail Account
The Court also ruled in E&E Legal’s favor in the second case, “#349.” The group sought records dated January 9, 2016 through February 29, 2016, and March 31, 2016 through April 17, inclusive, for the following four search terms:
- Pawa (referring to “climate lawyer” Matt Pawa, famous in this scheme for among other things saying that legislation takes too long so maybe it is time to use the courts to impose the climate agenda, an admission he later sought to walk back when exposed in records uncovered by E&E Legal)
- Frumhoff (Union of Concerned Scientists’ activist who copped, in an email to a George Mason University professor as exposed by E&E Legal’s lawyers in separate litigation, Horner v. GMU, that they were in on the AGs’ scheme months before Schneiderman issued any subpoena)
- any email address @ag.ny.gov
- any email address @democraticags.org
Today the Court said it was wading through responsive documents in this case produced for in camera review, but granted E&E Legal’s motion seeking to join former VT AG Bill Sorrell to the litigation and seek the above-described emails on his GMail account, which E&E Legal had demonstrated he also used but the state has to date refused to search for these purposes.
This has direct relationship to E&E Legal’s related New York FOIL cases activity in part because E&E Legal recently demonstrated that Schneiderman, too, used a GMail account for work-related correspondence (including his climate scheming), despite his office misleading the court there to believe otherwise (a stunt that is now subject of a motion to rehear, on the basis of that misleading advocacy).
Further, this should impact two requests E&E Legal recently sent to both VT and NYOAGs seeking correspondence between Sorrell and Schneiderman on the pair’s GMail accounts. The ‘no records’ denials both offices issued almost simultaneously indicate, with a curious similarity, that they both elected to not search those accounts, but also to be crafty about admitting this in case they could get away with it. E&E Legal administratively appealed Vermont’s denial and will shortly appeal New York’s.
“Climate activists in government have been shown to have widely relied on private e-mail accounts for years to conduct official business in the shadows, operating presumably free from the public’s right to know,” said Hardin. “Today’s ruling goes a long way toward ensuring that transparency laws will be applied to private e-mail accounts as well, including in the most outrageous cases such as the climate-RICO scheming, and that this avenue of hiding activities from the public is not acceptable.”
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.