Environmental Collusion

By Andy May

Chris Horner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) released a report (Law Enforcement for Rent) in August of 2018 detailing an unprecedented level of cooperation between the state governments of Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia. In these states, environmental groups and major liberal donors directly fund attorney general staff, research, public relations and other services. These non-governmental funds are specifically earmarked to advance progressive legal positions.

The New York Attorney General, Barbara Underwood.

Dr. Horner is a lawyer and writer, as well as a senior fellow at CEI. He uncovered the plan to place privately funded investigators and lawyers in attorney’s general offices to pursue legal actions against fossil fuel companies. The idea is that the privately paid attorneys and staff are to work “pro bono.” In New York, these privately funded attorneys are called “Special Assistant Attorneys General.” In return for the funding, the state attorneys general agree to promote progressive clean energy and other environmental legal positions. The scheme is led by Michael Bloomberg. All the attorneys general insist they are not violating the law by accepting privately funded prosecutors and bypassing the legislative funding process. Laws vary from state to state, but it is possible that this scheme is illegal in New York, yet the New York OAG (Office of the Attorney General) told a donor the following:

“The New York OAG openly boasted to a donor that its “need” for privately funded prosecutors was driven in part by the “significant strain on staff resources” that had been caused by its “non-litigation advocacy.”

Horner describes this advocacy as the NY OAG’s leadership in the resistance to the Trump administration. Importantly, the NY OAG also cited its campaign as “building models for two different types of common law cases to seek compensation” from industries for supposedly having caused global warming; moreover, it “needs additional attorney resources to assist with this project.” On these bases and with a claim to having statutory authority to enter the unprecedented arrangement—a claim which on its face appears to be an invention—the NYOAG was awarded not one but two privately underwritten prosecutors.

Chris Horner’s comment to this statement is:

“This is the most dangerous example of a modus operandi we have found: it uses nonprofit organizations as pass-through entities by which donors can support elected officials to, in turn, use their offices to advance a specific set of policies favored by said donors. It also uses resources that legislatures will not provide and that donors cannot legally provide directly.”

Pardon my bluntness, but to this non-lawyer, it seems that the process allows private individuals and environmental organizations to buy an attorney general’s office to attack anyone or any company they don’t like. Its nice to know justice is non-partisan and incorruptible in these states.

Dr. Horner and CEI spent two and a half years filing freedom-of-information requests to get the documentation they needed to write this report. All the most critical documents are in the Appendix. In addition, on a separate site you can download all the documents. Many of these documents have never been made public before and many could only be obtained by court order in the face of determined opposition from the attorneys general. Horner concludes his executive summary as follows:

“The public–private partnership of law enforcement for hire revealed in this report, in which the partnership uses public office to expend resources not appropriated or approved by their legislatures, raises significant constitutional and other legal issues—as well as ethics concerns—and should be the subject of prompt and serious legislative oversight.”

I think we can all agree with this. It is heartening that CEI has sued the state of Virginia to block its attempt to bring a Bloomberg-funded “special assistant attorney general” into their staff.

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68 thoughts on “Environmental Collusion

  1. I don’t understand how this can possibly be legal. Can I fund a private policeman to work with the cops to investigate my enemies? This is totally bizarre.

    Thanks as always to the CEI for their tireless work.

    w.

    • Indeed , this just reeks of malpractice. The left are so short sighted these days that they can not see this is a slippery road which leads to a day when large corporations do the same thing and own the AG offices.

      As always the “ends justifies the means” for the left these days, with no thought of the consequences.

      • After 8 years of Obama, liberals have gotten used to doing what ever they want with just a wink and a nod from the authorities.
        They also know that the main stream media, if they cover such misconduct at all, will cover it as a brilliant innovation that saves taxpayers money.

      • Marcus, I suspect this problem, in any one of many forms, has been around since the beginning of human history.

        To paraphrase: for tyranny to prevail … it is only needed that good men do nothing.

    • A previosu post on the same subject:

      https://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/10/31/law-enforcement-climate-schemers-get-exposed-by-tv-ads/#comment-2505954

      Re the comment in the article: “this is OUTRAGEOUS!”

      If true, this situation is much more than “Outrageous”.

      This is the subversion of the Law through bribery – this is serious criminal conduct, the destruction of Rule of Law, the very basis of national prosperity and personal security.

      Excerpt from the article:

      “Citing to key records from each AG’s office, the exposés lay out the tie-ups between a “Center” funded by New York billionaire activist Michael Bloomberg, and various state AGs across the country. Each AG specifically requested the outside group provide attorney salaries and benefits, as well as other “services that may be available to your offices on individual matters”, including still more attorneys, and public relations advocacy, to “advance progressive…legal positions” on specific issues.

      For the word “progressive” above, read “Marxist”. Progressives follow a Marxist agenda, but many are just too stupid to realize it.

      In my opinion, the above conduct is treason.

      • This report has been mentioned in, at least two, recent posts. Besides the one you cite, David Middleton put one up in October as well. There may be more. I plan on doing some digging into this.

        • Does anyone know who the other parties are that also received subpoenas? 100 were issued? Only 2 are known to the public?

      • Allan

        And Big Oil is condemned for bringing the world prosperity, medicines, transport, energy security etc.

        Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” Hamlet (1.4), Marcellus to Horatio.

      • Bloomberg has been so rich and so left for so long that laws do not apply to him. Even though New York City has laws prohibiting any person from serving more than two consecutive terms as mayor, Bloomberg served three. Anybody know how that works?

    • Willis: In ordinary circumstances, we agree. But they are saving the planet and all that. If somebody doesn’t stop these oil companies, people will just do as they please! Precious resources will be wasted by individuals who aren’t even progressive and don’t know what’s best for them!! As for Greg’s concern, progs never worry that their own omelette-making methods might be turned against them. Everyone knows that using gov’t power for a private (well-funded) cause is wrong, unless you’re saving the planet.

    • The more I think about this, the more my jaw drops.

      Can CAIR fund a private policeman to work with the cops to investigate anyone suspected of islamophobia?

      What about the Southern Poverty Law Center and their list of “far right extremists”?

      How about transgender activists pursuing anyone suspected of using the wrong pronoun?

      The list goes on and on.

  2. Hmm… I would have thought that a lawyer who claims to be working pro bono but is actually taking backhander payments is engaging in fairly serious professional misconduct.

    • Eh, no. “Pro bono” simply means “without cost to the beneficiary.”

      Supposedly, the beneficiary is the people of the State that the work is being done for, but someone else (Bloomberg) is paying the salaries.

      The problem, of course, is that the salary is actually being paid by the real beneficiaries (the Green Cronies), so it is only technically (and, alas, probably “ethically” in skewed lawyer ethics) “pro bono.”

      • The beneficiaries (the people of the state) would not be beneficiaries if the money paid by (Bloomberg) was treated as a tax-deductible expense: such tax deduction would reduce the tax take for the state the loss of which would need the people of the state to make up. So they would end up funding the action through their taxes.

  3. Great job . Unfortunately these same eco anarchists infiltrated the EPA and a host of other government jobs as the universities spit them out of brain wash camp . No wonder there is no free speech allowed .
    Tribalism ends badly .

    • Drive by the EPA building in Crystal City VA someday. The head has stopped the trash of paying NGOs to sue them. Half the lights are out. Half the employees have quit. Long Live Trump.

  4. We who are citizens of a British-style parliamentary democracy have another word for such collusion, namely corruption.

    • AndyE: Our (British) parliament’s departments, especially Energy, are stuffed full of Green activists playing the part of advisors etc. They control Ministers like Claire Perry and determine her and the government’s energy policy. They are planning for the lights to go out and the likes of Perry cannot see it.

  5. In Australia we picked up the law as it was in the UK in 1901, our Independannt day. Thank goodness, so we do not have thee odd system, of 1776 vinmtage as apparently practised in the USA.

    MJE

    • I wouldnt be so smug, our system has its shortcomings also, which has been clearly evident for the last decade or so.

      • listened to abc radio the last few days re Victorian elections?
        BOTH major parties are singing the ret renewables huge debt serenade
        for billions re batteries to homes
        that would give us a decent coal plant or two probably
        im voting Indy who wont preference as the best i can do

  6. ….It is heartening that CEI has sued the state of Virginia to block its attempt to bring a Bloomberg-funded “special assistant attorney general” into their staff…..

    No it isn’t!

    This should not be the subject of civil remedy. It should be a matter for criminal law.

    • It looks like there is no law to prevent such a thing in USA which is really strange in most countries it comes under independence of the judiciary. Any sort of payment not coming directly from the government is considered a bride and/or corruption.

    • But, of course, it gets tricky when the law breaker is also the law enforcer. The FBI should look into this.

    • Even if it is against the law, the only agency that could prosecute this misconduct is the state AG’s office.
      The very group that is breaking the law.

    • It is.
      But some in power want us to be the blind ones.
      They call it “transparency” which, to them, means “You can’t see what we’re doing.”

      Dr. Horner and CEI, Thank you and keep shining the light on what they are doing.

  7. in the UK this would simply be regarded as corruption and the lawyers concerned would simply be struck off. I.e. unfit to get a job as a lawyer. Rightly so!

  8. Gee. What do the governments of these 5 states’ (and DC) have in common?

    And the relevant correct answer is not that they are all coastal.

  9. If this arrangement is legal, then it must also be legal for other States to solicit privately funded attorneys from oil companies to help them pursue an “energy friendly” agenda by suing groups opposed to pipelines, industries promoting wind turbines, etc., etc.

    This is blatant political corruption. It may be possible to pursue this as an illegal campaign contribution. It would be more effective to go after the people giving the money than the ones taking it.

    • I bet they were counting on Hillary winning so O’bama’s “Unjustice Dept.” would cover their “assets”… ; )..

  10. It really boggles the mind that this goes on. I assume there are legislative acts or state constitutional parameters for the functions of the AG’s office. These acts must be offside in a technical manner at least.

  11. This sort of arrangement should be prosecuted under either 48 USC 241, the so-called KKK Act, or RICO. Under either law, it would be possible to go after the funders as well.

  12. Leftists always insist that elections provide the accountability needed to keep the inherent evils of socialism under control. Then they do all they can to undermine the power of the purse, fight accountability, and nullify elections. Leftists are liars. Never believe anything they say. Assume the opposite as your null hypothesis, and work from there.

  13. If the alarmists are SO sure of the voracity and truth of the AGW argument, the compelling nature of their bought scientists results then why would they need to do this I wonder, unless………

  14. I’m having a hard time understanding why this isn’t the biggest news story of the year (maybe even decade). This is corruption at the highest level. I can’t even thing of anything analogous to this. Every citizen in these states should be so outraged that they are out protesting, initiating recall votes, etc.

    • I haven’t seen any news of it in Oregon, except on this site.

      People don’t yet know, and 40% of them in Oregon wouldn’t care, as long as it pushed the agenda along.

      (everyone knew former gov kitzhaber & his pubic relations manager/girlfriend were personally profiting from the green-scam but they were re-elected. They were only forced out, AFTER THEY WERE RE-ELECTED.)

      It would be the biggest news story of the year if the make-believe consortium of “oil money” were secretly fund AG’s in any one state, let alone numerous states.

      • Right, voters don’t seem to care?

        One of these AGs was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2016 and another was elected a state governor November, 2018.

        Compare the 2016 AGs list with the U.S. November, 2018 election results.

  15. Because the lawsuits against the fossil fuel industry are brought by these state attorneys general offices, the public is mislead into believing there are legitimate legal grounds for the charges against the FF corporations. Use of the AG offices gives what should have been at best merely a civil action the apparent standing of a criminal action.

    This is a similar to the deceptive campaign propagated by the Obama administration against coal powered electricity plants. I heard from locals that the Navajo Power plant at Page, Arizona was being deactivated because coal was uneconomical due to free market conditions when actually it was being taxed into submission by government.

    SR

  16. LOL! The right also funds the opposite groups in the same way. See Federalist Society, NRA, etc. We need to get money out of politics, as both sides play this unconstitutional game. We should not be for sale.

    • Neither the Federalist Society nor the NRA are government entities — Attorney Generals are, and the AG is an elected official.

      • I am a lawyer, this happens all the time. The ex-Supreme court clerk and Federalist society fav beind all the gerrymandering legal work for Texas and their AG did it all pro-bono and passed the result to all the deep red states. Gotta keep democrats from voting, at any cost!

        Many state and federal laws are originally drafted by special interests and industry, on both sides.
        I certainly think suing industry is misguided and stupid, but lets go over the idea that only one side does this crap.

  17. Collusion ? Who knew . A trillion dollar industry of climate fear mongering
    can pay for a lot of colluding .

  18. Does this mean that it is okay to open the floodgates to private litigators to work in favor of other political positions? For example: Pro-life, and firearm ownership?
    Asking for a friend.

  19. I’m as watchful as the next libertarian on government.. power abuse.. But on its face this seems like a legitimate practice. Barring actual laws preventing it of course.

    The OP characterized this practice of bring on privately funded citizens as assistant AGs as ‘buying’ the AG office. But the AG is in full control, and they are setting the agenda. These prosecutions are something they would do anyway, perhaps with more funding. Assuming private money does not go directly to the AGs office, they should be covered.

    As for what the private groups gain.. it sounds as if they are gaining ‘standing’ to launch their own suits.. That’s the only place I could see an issue.. However if the AG’s office has to OK every single suit, including when to settle and where the reward money goes, it is really the AG’s cases that have the standing. BTW, I’m assuming that the reward moneys CANNOT go to the private entities funding the assistant AGs.

    With respect to the logical aspect of this — Can the AGs hire anyone they want? Can the AGs pay them 0 dollars? Can the person they hire have independent wealth? Can they be earning money on that wealth (barring conflicts of interest of course)? Can they be doing jobs on the side?

    So assuming that the elected AGs have full and complete control over these hired AGs, and assuming the money flows in either direction (to the hired AGs from public funds aside from a fixed salary and from the rewards, and to the elected AGs office from the private funds), I’m not seeing a problem here..

    • Ack — That’s “Assuming NO money flows in either direction”.

      And just to be clearer, I meant that private groups don’t really gain anything except an increase in clearance of cases the AGs office would have brought anyway — the standing doesn’t benefit the group, rather it benefits the AGs office.

      I guess I’m one of those people that needed the multiple drafts required by teachers!

  20. the attorney general do not need donors / special fundings.

    The process effort is paid by the loser of the process.

    If the process costs can not be borne by the loser of the process, the additional expenses must be borne by the state.

    every other procedure must be seen

    ILLEGAL

    because it will go to the benefit of ONE distinct process participant

    and thus violates the neutrality of the judiciary.

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