Court Sides with GAO over UCLA, Awards $225,000 in Legal Fees Over Records Fight

From Government Accountability & Oversight

Court Awards GAO $225,000 in Legal Fees Over Records Fight


Emails revealed Hollywood and other wealthy donors quietly financing law firm, with charitable foundation serving as pass-through for millions in “charitable grants”

Financing raises disclosurepossible ethics and tax questions

Late last month, the Superior Court for Los Angeles County awarded Government Accountability & Oversight $225,000 for local counsel James K.T. Hunter’s time spent litigating the California Public Records Act litigation, Government Accountability & Oversight v. Regents.

This lawsuit to obtain public access to public records spanned just over two years, in which the University waged a scorched-earth effort of obstruction, enlisting a team of lawyers including a major law firm’s former chair of global litigation and of its appellate practice group, for what the school then insisted to the court was really a nothingburger of a case.

Based on the hundreds of hours GAO’s two lawyers were forced to spend on the matter, it seems likely that UCLA paid its own outside firm five or more times that amount. As such, GAO is still struggling to discern the school’s actual view of the importance of the matter.

A hint as to the suit’s importance can be found in the substance of what GAO learned on the public’s behalf. In April, the court ordered UCLA to release most of what GAO sought, following which GAO broke the story laid out in those records that Leonardo DiCaprio and at least one green Republican donor (and quite possibly another, influential Republican donor, Andrew Sabin) have — from the beginning — privately financed the wave of “climate nuisance” litigation brought on behalf of governmental entities by the law firm Sher Edling, LLP.

The millions of dollars were run through a public charity as “charitable donations” to the firm. This pre-paid financing model of suits — which are nonetheless being prosecuted under extraordinarily generous “contingency fee” agreements offering amounts typically associated with firms taking the risk of not being paid for the work — seemingly represents a revolution in the legal industry.

So, GAO is pleased to announce that, although it took two years of litigation for the public to learn about this, despite UCLA’s apparent willingness to do and spend anything to keep this under wraps, the public now better understands the climate litigation industry and even its genesis: Hollywood bigwigs taking tax deductions to launch a legal tsunami.

That suggests one reason why the University fought and spent as it did.

These revelations might well have implications for one or more of the “climate” lawsuits the Hollywood money is actually paying for.

As GAO and the public further assess the meaning of this and related information, GAO expects further developments on this issue.

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August 6, 2022 6:51 pm

UCLA should lose all public funding for the next five years and return all public funds received since they began withholding records.

Pillage Idiot
Reply to  Bob
August 6, 2022 7:01 pm


However, how much will it cost us in legal fees to actually obtain the justice you have described?

Somehow the wealthy Hollywood and academia “elites” always claim to be looking out for the little guy, yet they are always the ones acting to bully the little guys.

Reply to  Pillage Idiot
August 7, 2022 11:09 am

They absolutely are looking out for the little guy. Looking out for how to keep them in their place.

Reply to  Bob
August 7, 2022 4:17 am

The 80,000 new IRS agents authorized under the latest spending boondoggle will ensure that this loophole is protected. While they harass law-abiding citizens.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Bob
August 7, 2022 9:07 am

People should boycott movies starring DiCaprio.

Richard Page
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
August 7, 2022 9:49 am

I always do but not because of the Green litigation, he’s a poor actor. Now I have another reason!

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
August 7, 2022 10:45 am

I used to go to a multiplex where you could go to more than one movie for one fee.

I would always make a long afternoon of it and watch 2 movies. I would buy a ticket for a movie with un-woke actors, then watch another movie with woke actors.

Now I just don’t go to the theater anymore, movies are not worth the cost.

Eventually they will be on streaming. We have a decent media room with surround sound that does a pretty good job of duplicating the theater experience, and the popcorn popper cart makes BETTER popcorn than the theaters, and we can drink anything we want with the popcorn.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
August 7, 2022 11:10 am

Instead, people are using his latest (Don’t Look Up) as a guide to reality.

Harkle Pharkle
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
August 9, 2022 6:23 pm

Have been boycotting dicaprio for years. And clooney, striesand, etc…

Tom Halla
August 6, 2022 7:01 pm

This sort if activity really deserves a RICO prosecution, of all entities involved.

Reply to  Tom Halla
August 6, 2022 7:51 pm

It is a racket and a lot of people are getting rich because of it. Don’t hold your breath though, there are still a lot of parents terrorizing school boards that have to be prosecuted first.

Reply to  Doonman
August 7, 2022 10:47 am

there are still a lot of parents terrorizing school boards that have to be prosecuted persecuted first.

There, fixed it.

Reply to  Tom Halla
August 7, 2022 11:54 am

Do you believe the current admin will approve and undertake (not in the sense of bury) this type prosecution?

Danley Wolfe
August 6, 2022 7:18 pm

I saw this elsewhere of course not in the liberal newspapers i.e., NYT and WashPo. Significant, very important to put an end to this going on.

Simon MacPhisto
August 6, 2022 7:53 pm

Leo, who took millions from JoLo, who got them from Saudi Arabia, who got them from oil. Follow the money, folks.

August 6, 2022 9:13 pm

Yet another publicly-supported “academic” institution using public funds to defend itself against charges of perfidy.

August 6, 2022 10:18 pm

This isn’t just a UCLA thing. The University of California is a system of UCs across the state. UCLA may have been the vehicle, but certainly the entire University of California System, the largest university system in the U.S., was complicit. Their universities are all in lock step over climate hysteria and net-Zero mania. Their system office of general council would have been the driver of the defense. Also, their system ethics and compliance office would have reviewed the actions of UCLA and its donors and deemed them to be ethical.

To my mind, this renders a degree from a UC university, especially a law degree, practically worthless. They have massively broken trust with their taxpayers who fund the system and have clearly lost sight of their mission to teach, research and outreach to serve the public.

Doc Chuck
Reply to  Pflashgordon
August 6, 2022 11:52 pm

One can imagine how proud I am lately to be a UCLA Bruin graduate, albeit over half a century ago when it hadn’t occurred to anyone that there should be a ‘safe space’ there free of any troubling contradictions. And come to think of it, I elected to spend my graduation ceremony day taking my family sightseeing on lovely nearby Catalina Island instead of foolishly sitting in the hot summer sun in black robe and cap listening to a couple hours of poppycock. So I guess they could fairly claim to have somehow engendered that sort of personal smarts in addition to equipping me for medical school with all the biochemistry.

And indeed at the time 2 years of Reserve Officer Training Corps service was also a requirement (horrors) and as I would thus be marching on the athletic fields anyway, I decided to join the Air Force rifle drill team that competed with several other schools in some pretty remarkably intricate performances with 1903 Springfield 30-06 rifles of WWI vintage upon being flown to Arizona on a twin-engined C47 transport (DC3 commercially) with a tail wheel assuring a floor slanting down to the rear and paratrooper style side seating you will have seen in the ‘Band of Brothers’ portrayal of the Normandy invasion. Now that was pretty cool!

Reply to  Pflashgordon
August 8, 2022 11:28 am

“Their universities are all in lock step over climate hysteria and net-Zero mania.”

Given their stated climate concerns, and net zero goals, they should be able to show that the change from the pac 12 conference (west coast) to the Big 10 (termed as mid west, but east of central), creates less of an atmospheric CO2 contribution.

Not just for them, but for the competing schools that will be adding 2,000 miles of travel to play in California on a regular basis.

Hypocrites all.

August 6, 2022 11:05 pm

Given the corruption of the deep state, I’m surprised the GAO has been pursuing this. Was there no one in the Biden administration who could have made this effort go away?

another ian
Reply to  J.R.
August 7, 2022 2:33 am

Got missed in amongst the bigger problems?

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  J.R.
August 7, 2022 7:06 am

There is a big difference between the Government Accountability Office (GAO), an independent, non-partisan agency that works for Congress, and the Government Accountability & Oversight (GAO), a relatively small, non-profit public interest firm.

Gordon A. Dressler
August 7, 2022 6:57 am

Someone in the IRS has been asleep at the wheel on this matter.

Public charities known as 501(c)(3) corporations (earning a “tax exempt” status) are, by law, prevented from making donations to influence legislation. If “climate nuisance” litigation brought on behalf of governmental entities is not an action influencing the formation or practice of legislation, I don’t know what would be.

“In general, according to the IRS, ‘no organization may qualify for section 501(c)(3) status if a substantial part of its activities is attempting to influence legislation (commonly known as lobbying). A 501(c)(3) organization may engage in some lobbying, but too much lobbying activity risks loss of tax-exempt status.’ “

Whatever “public charity” (left unnamed in the above article) was used to funnel donors’ money to the law firm Sher Edling, LLP,—thereby giving the donors a tax deduction claim for their contributions—should be immediately heavily fined by the IRS and have their tax-exempt status revoked.

Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
August 7, 2022 10:55 am

And I am sure the 80 thousand new IRS agents will get right on that!

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Drake
August 8, 2022 5:48 am

You forgot the /sarc

August 7, 2022 7:58 am

I know it’s a trite saying, but follow the money.

August 7, 2022 8:32 am

UCLA has become a wholly owned subsidiary of the CCP. Newsracks hawking China Watch, a PLA/CCP propaganda rag, are scattered across campus and sons and daughters of PlA and Party brass are sent there to be educated (and checking in with them monthly) while paying “full boat”. The last 30 years have wrought huge changes and if nothing changes going forward, we won’t get another 30.

Fred ohr
August 7, 2022 9:23 am

Nice target for the 87,000 new IRS agents. These ain’t charities.

August 7, 2022 10:48 am

Not even a day since WUWT posted the amazing discovery that oil industry benefits from green government grants, we get this about “Republicans” Tamminen and Sabin, and Pegasus capital and the Rockefeller foundation, are involved in financing “green” climate lawfare.

Shocked, shocked I say, to find abuse of the legal system in support of financial advantage is going on in the establishment.

Cronyism is bipartisan, party platforms are false advertising, and green is the color of money. SOOPRISE!

August 7, 2022 1:44 pm

So it’s a tax deductible con job.

August 7, 2022 2:49 pm

“Sher Edling, LLP”

Oh, I notice.

August 7, 2022 4:07 pm

Offering advanced degrees in fraud, tax evasion, and deception. Our graduates in political and environmental campaigns are second to none and ranked right up there with Yale, Penn state, and UAH.

Reply to  ResourceGuy
August 8, 2022 10:56 am


I mean UEA.

Paul Penrose
August 8, 2022 10:11 am

Go, Go, GAO!

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