Chris White Tech Reporter
September 09, 2019 9:57 PM ET
- Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s legal fellows are likely too closely connected to the billionaire’s climate change crusading group, new emails show.
- Analyst Chris Horner tells the Daily Caller News Foundation that the emails reveal how Maryland is “outsourcing” law enforcement activities to “activist donors.”
- The emails apparently contradict what the Bloomberg-financed climate group has said in the past about the legal fellows it places in state attorneys general offices.
A climate attorney inside Maryland’s attorney general’s office appears to be working at the direction of a group connected to former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, according to documents published recently by a watchdog group.
The special assistant attorney move to seek guidance contracts claims from the billionaire-financed group that such attorneys are loyal only to the states where they are placed. The so-called SAAGs are being placed in state AG offices around the country by a group that received $6 million from Bloomberg in 2018.
“I’m considering moving from my current environmental-focused position to the energy position that the Maryland AG’s Office has open, ” SAAG John Howard said in an email to David Haynes, director of the State Environmental and Energy Impact Center, which works to plant attorneys in various AG offices.
The memo was published Sept. 3 by Energy Policy Advocates (EPA), a non-profit group founded in Washington state. (RELATED: One Of The Lawyers Targeting Oil Companies Worked In Bloomberg’s Office)
“Would you have a few minutes this afternoon to call me? I want to get a better sense than I currently have about what the Center envisions for these positions,” Howard added in the email, which is dated March, 13 2019. Haynes responded: “I’d be happy to chat with you about this. Could we talk tomorrow.”
Howard has been working at Maryland’s AG office since March 2018.
Bloomberg’s grant went to the SEEI, which is designed to escalate attacks against President Donald Trump’s regulatory rollbacks. The Daily Caller News Foundation reported in February that Illinois, Maryland, and other states involved in the program hired attorneys with ties to the billionaire.
The exchange between Howard and Haynes appears to contradict SEEIC’s past claims that such fellows receive orders exclusively from their respective attorney general. The SEEIC operates out of the New York University of Law, media reports show.
The group’s website states: “NYU pays the salaries of the law fellows, but the fellows’ sole duty of loyalty is to the attorney general in whose office he or she serves. All work performed by the fellows is entirely identified and managed by their respective AG offices.”
Analysts argue Howard knew what was expected of him before he reached out.
“This scheme represents a dangerous outsourcing of law enforcement to an activist donor — and further undermines the AGs’ and Bloomberg Center’s insistence that these are simply more bodies,” Chris Horner, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, told the DCNF.
Horner is on the board of directors at the Government Accountability & Oversight, which played a role in releasing the emails.
Howard, Haynes, and Maryland AG Brian Frosh have not responded to the DCNF’s request for comment about the nature of the program. Media reports have also raised questions about SEEI’s role in financing state attorneys general attempts to sue oil companies for supposedly contributing to climate change.
Gavin McCabe, a lawyer connected to Bloomberg Philanthropies, for instance, signed an amicus brief in 2018 supporting New York City’s yearlong climate lawsuit against Exxon and Chevron. Bloomberg founded Bloomberg Philanthropies in 2017 to provide AG offices with attorneys to help push green energy.
McCabe is one of at least eight attorneys hired by attorneys general across the country to work on environmental litigation.
McCabe’s involvement suggests Bloomberg’s money is playing a role in the anti-Exxon campaign. He made himself a part of the lawsuit demanding energy companies compensate the city for the alleged damages from global warming. U.S. District Judge John Keenan dismissed the case in July after months of arguments.