Climate FOIA: Public Wins, Court Orders Virginia AG Office to Comply with the Law Re Bloomberg Docs

WEBEDITOR 

2018 lawsuit, which already revealed previously-denied memo, other emails, takes major step forward

RICHMOND, VA (April 20, 2022) — Virginia citizen Christopher Horner and the free-market public policy group Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) prevailed yet again yesterday in their lawsuit against Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares under Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act.

The suit was filed in the Circuit Court for the City of Richmond in November 2018, then subsequently dragged out through various maneuvers by then-AG Mark Herring’s Office. It sought to get to the bottom of contradictory positions the Office of Attorney General (OAG) has taken regarding its effort to bring into the Office one or more privately hired “Special Assistant Attorneys General” (SAAGs) with salary and benefits are actually paid by a Center created by billionaire climate activist Michael Bloomberg, expressly to pursue issues of concern to Mr. Bloomberg. The suit also sought records relating to OAG’s review and determination of any ethical concerns in entering the unprecedented, highly conflicted arrangement which OAG applied for, via Bloomberg’s “Center for State Impacts”, on September 15, 2017.

In a memo written on that date, Herring’s Office pursued — then later struck an agreement, all in writing — to bring one or more privately hired activist lawyers in-house to do an activist group’s bidding, a pursuit which was abandoned over the telephone after the Office began receiving Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for correspondence and memos about the venture.

As the original Petition detailed, Virginia’s former Attorney General applied for, and was subsequently approved, for a privately funded special prosecutor for climate and renewable energy, to be paid $81,500 per year as an employee of Mr. Bloomberg’s “Center” established at New York University (NYU). The outfit was created for this purpose of placing employees in OAGs that commit to “advancing progressive clean energy, climate change, and environmental legal positions” favored by Mr. Bloomberg.

During discovery, the plaintiffs learned of the existence of a “GOLD Decision Memorandum” explaining the plans for these “SAAGs”, which Herring’s Office had denied existed. In another FOIA lawsuit by Horner after this revelation, and which sought to get around the stonewalling in this first suit, Herring’s Office has claimed the memo is privileged “working papers” that the public cannot see.

These revelations also played a role in the recent trial in the case decided yesterday. The Office will have to acknowledge that memo and other documents in a computer folder also revealed in discovery exist, and decide whether to at long last turn the memo and other records over, too, or keep litigating but now claiming this very narrow privilege.

The Petition also noted that as part of this application, but without citing to any specifics, OAG certified that it has the legal authority to bring in employees funded by Bloomberg, and that there are no gift or professional responsibility impediments. This not only contradicts Virginia law and raises questions relating to ethical obligations for attorneys paid by non-clients, but OAG claimed it had “no records” showing that it ever undertook any such analysis, opinion or conclusion on its legal assertions.

Horner and CEI detailed the arrangement, and Virginia’s effort to join in such a extensive and elaborate campaign using AG offices in coordination with major contributors and activist pressure groups to attain a policy agenda that failed through the democratic process, in a recent report, “Law Enforcement for Rent” and extensive appendix of source documents also available on ClimateLitigationWatch.org

Horner and CEI’s most recent victory is at least the third instance so far in which Virginia’s OAG has been defeated in the same case. The former Attorney General’s insistence that he did not have records to provide Mr. Horner and CEI was rejected initially at the motion to dismiss stage. Upon being ordered to file an answer, the Attorney General instead filed a “Plea of Nulla Bona,” in which the office again reiterated its position that no further records of its relationship with NYU and the Bloomberg-funded Center existed. When the Court rejected the Plea of Nulla Bona, the Attorney General at long last filed an answer, and the case was set for trial. Following trial, the Court has now ordered the Attorney General to search for and produce the documents it has long stated do not exist.

Horner said “We look forward to the results of a proper search and hope Virginia’s new Attorney General will put an end to three and a half years of stonewalling over how the state’s former top attorney come to make such a promise, and what led them to abandon the effort after we started asking questions. Hopefully, he’ll now turn over these public records that have been at issue since 2018.”

Local counsel Graven W. Craig represented the parties, joined by Matt Hardin, and Chris Horner pro hac vice.

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Tom Halla
April 29, 2022 6:07 am

Taking money from Bloomberg looks like a conflict of interest.

Bryan A
Reply to  Tom Halla
April 29, 2022 6:39 am

Don’t start counting your chickens just yet, this is only a Circuit Court decision and is still likely to go all the way to the Virginia State Supreme Court before enforcement can happen. Then, if it is multistate jurisdictional perhaps all the way to the SCOTUS

Old Man Winter
Reply to  Bryan A
April 29, 2022 6:48 am

Unfortunately, they behave like rats & other vermin who won’t do the right thing & quietly
leave.

whiten
Reply to  Tom Halla
April 29, 2022 7:42 am

And lying about it to a Court of Law, looks like a crime of interest.
A clear abuse of power of office and trust.

Kpar
Reply to  whiten
April 29, 2022 8:11 am

Can contempt of court proceedings be far behind?

whiten
Reply to  Kpar
April 29, 2022 8:33 am

It is one of these rare instances where and when actually the intention and motivation tips the scales… I think.

cheers

whiten
Reply to  whiten
April 29, 2022 8:56 am

Kpar

When also that stands proved indisputably standing, by actual actions, of a contempt towards and against a court order, by person(s) in position of power of office due and via common societal trust!

cheers

Last edited 3 months ago by whiten
whiten
Reply to  whiten
April 29, 2022 10:14 am

Indila – Parle à ta tête (Clip Officiel)

Phil R
Reply to  Kpar
April 29, 2022 6:25 pm

yes…far, far behind.

Oddgeir
Reply to  whiten
May 4, 2022 10:26 am

“lying about it to a Court of Law….”

Amounts to perjury, no?

Oddgeir

commieBob
Reply to  Tom Halla
April 29, 2022 9:58 am

The use of Special Assistant Attorneys General allows the Attorney General to do more stuff. link That includes politically motivated prosecutions, which, obviously, they should not be allowed do.

The framers of the Constitution envisioned a system whose power, at every level, is circumscribed. In that light, the use of Special Attorneys General seems unconstitutional.

Quelgeek
Reply to  commieBob
April 30, 2022 5:38 am

Spelling it out: if this kind of arrangement is used to promote “climate action”, the same arrangements are quietly being used to harness the state apparatus to advance other progressive causes too.

So start paying attention.

Barnes Moore
April 29, 2022 6:24 am

What other states have accepted this kind of deal with Bloomberg? Yet one more example of total corruption.

Coach Springer
April 29, 2022 6:46 am

Question: How can you tell which billionaires are the bad guys and which are the good guys? (Actually fairly easy if you go by progressivism v. reason.)

Even better question: How did we get to government officials deciding which billionaire to collude with?

Last edited 3 months ago by Coach Springer
paul courtney
Reply to  Coach Springer
April 29, 2022 12:41 pm

Mr. Springer; The answer to your even better question is, we become billionaires, then gov’t officials will come calling.

noaaprogrammer
Reply to  paul courtney
April 30, 2022 8:36 pm

Yes. Way out here in Washington State, Bill Gates was quite apolitical, minding his own business, until he became wealthy. When the lefties in the other Washington became aware of Bill’s wealth, he was groomed to become one of them.

Peter W
April 29, 2022 7:18 am

Wealth and intelligence do not always cohabit.

Kpar
Reply to  Peter W
April 29, 2022 8:12 am

OH! So True!

Exhibit One: Bill Gates.

Exhibit Two: Jeff Bezos

Last edited 3 months ago by Kpar
Trying to Play Nice
Reply to  Kpar
April 29, 2022 1:58 pm

But those two are both ruthless, don’t always play by the rule and have exhibited psychopathic tendencies.

Rob_Dawg
Reply to  Peter W
April 29, 2022 11:12 am

> Wealth and intelligence do not always cohabit.

Wealth and intelligence rarely cohabit.

FIFY

One need only look at the fortunes of so many founding ancestors to see how long it takes to dissipate those riches. Three generations is a likely median.

Gordon A. Dressler
April 29, 2022 7:18 am

All this despite repeated claims of “I will provide transparency, if elected.”

Should have known what that means, coming from the mouths of politicians and bureaucrats alike.

DaveinCalgary
April 29, 2022 7:22 am

This is buying the judiciary. How is this not illegal? I wont hold my breath that anyone powerful or wealthy will be charged. That seems to have been banned in America long ago.

Kpar
Reply to  DaveinCalgary
April 29, 2022 8:14 am

I’ve heard that O.J. is this/close to finding the real killer…

John Endicott
Reply to  Kpar
April 29, 2022 6:58 pm

He;d find him a lot quicker if he’d simply stop averting his eyes every time he passes a mirror. 😉

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  John Endicott
April 30, 2022 8:49 am

LOL – one of the best cartoons was OJ looking for his golf ball in the water, with his reflection staring back at him. Caption reads “OJ finds the real killers.”

Jim Gorman
Reply to  DaveinCalgary
April 29, 2022 8:34 am

This is known as an oligarchy, where the rich and powerful become the “government”!

From Merriam-Webster:

 government in which a small group exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes”

THe U.S. has been on this slippery slope for a number of years.

paul courtney
Reply to  DaveinCalgary
April 29, 2022 12:51 pm

Dave: Actually much worse, they are buying the prosecutor not the judiciary. The Court can only decide cases brought to it- the prosecutor decides the cases brought, and can do far more damage. Courts don’t have investigation “tools”, prosecutors do and can use them to investigate any damn thing (Russian hoax). Or not investigate (a certain laptop). Bloomberg and Soros are onto something very dangerous, they are buying law enforcement power.

DaveinCalgary
Reply to  paul courtney
April 30, 2022 8:18 am

Thanks for the depressing correction!
“It was worse than I thought.”

Andy Pattullo
April 29, 2022 7:41 am

Wouldn’t it be great to have laws outlining personal accountability and penalties for people in public office who abuse the resources and privileges of that office at the expense of taxpayers to defend their won corrupt practices. At present it seems that the total expense and accountability for this abuse is on the taxpayer and those citizens who bring suit. Same here in Canada. This is the political equivalent of academic tenure where, once appointed there is no accountability and all misbehaviour is at the cost of the public not the person committing th offence.

navy bob
April 29, 2022 8:02 am

Jason Miyares is a supposedly conservative republican. Are you saying he’s still fighting on the side of the previous democrat administration?

Kpar
Reply to  navy bob
April 29, 2022 8:15 am

Bureaucrats have a higher calling. It’s called “Paycheck Protection”.

Old Man Winter
Reply to  Kpar
April 29, 2022 8:38 am

If they play it right, they will achieve the “higher calling” of “Paycheck Enhancement”,
where they’ll have made political connections that will pay them more than they made at
the job where they reached their level of incompetency!

MarkW
Reply to  navy bob
April 30, 2022 3:33 pm

A lot of Republicans have this notion that as long as they aren’t openly socialist, they can call themselves conservative,

2hotel9
April 29, 2022 8:23 am

About damned time. Now, will it actually be enforced?

Bill Rocks
April 29, 2022 10:33 am

Thanks for this report about incremental meaningful progress resulting from skill, hard work, ethics and persistence. My gratitude is offered to Christopher Horner and associates who have endeavored to halt this political corruption of our legal system.

I look forward to reports of more sunlight upon the slimy maneuver by the state of Virginia.

Patrick B
April 29, 2022 11:50 am

Please tell me the judge ordered Virginia to pay the legal fees.

ResourceGuy
April 29, 2022 12:06 pm

Only honest people comply with FOIA.

stinkerp
Reply to  ResourceGuy
April 29, 2022 3:29 pm

Sort of. Sometimes FOIA requests are made primarily for political reasons: to tie up a department with egregious amounts of paperwork or to search for, often accidental, “process crimes” like making a statement under oath that may have inadvertently misstated or excluded something that’s found in the unearthed documents but is used to paint the person or department as deliberately hiding some conspiracy. Sometimes just making the FOIA request for hundreds of thousands of pages of documents is done to make it appear as though the department is hiding something because it takes so long to gather the documents, or because they know the department will reject the request as unreasonable because they want hundreds of thousands of mostly completely irrelevant documents. And sometimes the requests are completely legitimate, like this one. The political gamesmanship in government bureaucracy is bloody.

Last edited 3 months ago by stinkerp
Howard Dewhirst
April 29, 2022 3:41 pm

Can we presume that Virginia will be the only state of the Union to have been infiltrated by special climate attorneys in the pay of Mr B?

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Howard Dewhirst
April 30, 2022 8:52 am

No, unfortunately.

observa
April 29, 2022 5:06 pm

They won’t give up with the political lawyering if they’re too gutless to ban or tax consumer products democratically-
California takes on Big Plastic over recycling myths (msn.com)

observa
April 29, 2022 5:20 pm

You’ll notice with increased demand and lithium battery resource prices rising dramatically it’s beginning to dawn on the climate changers that their renewables fix is a fantasy so the mantra is beginning to change to rationing and restrictions-
The promise and peril of the electric car revolution | The Week
Net zero by 2050 will hit a major timing problem technology can’t solve. We need to talk about cutting consumption (theconversation.com)

observa
Reply to  observa
April 29, 2022 6:09 pm

No e-sprawl for the Teslerati and the deplorables can catch the bus-
Paris suspends electric bus fleet after fires (msn.com)
or cycle or walk.

observa
April 29, 2022 5:29 pm

And put your mouth where your money is Elon and resist the Ministry of Truth and green jackboots-
Lauren Boebert leads effort to defund Biden Administration’s ‘disinformation’ board (msn.com)

Fred Ohr
April 29, 2022 6:55 pm

What the hell is a Republican AG doing perpetuating the work of a Marxist like Herring.

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