Rhode Island’s AG Sued For Withholding Docs In Global Warming Investigation

REUTERS/Mike Segar

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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A conservative legal group is suing Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin for withholding records regarding a “secret pact” the office has with other attorneys general investigating ExxonMobil’s global warming stance.

The Energy & Environment Legal Institute (EELI) is suing Kilmartin’s office for refusing to release some records regarding a “common interest agreement” between Democratic AG offices that participated in a March event hosted by New York AG Eric Schneiderman.

At the event, AGs reaffirmed their commitment to defending Obama administration global warming rules, and some even committed to investigating Exxon and free market think tanks and groups with supposed ties to the oil company. EELI says they have evidence Kilmartin’s office is part of a “secret pact” to come out of the meeting.

“E&E Legal expects to do whatever is necessary to get these public records before the public, to educate on this unprecedented abuse of power”, EELI Executive Director Craig Richardson said in a statement Wednesday.

EELI says Kilmartin’s office has “imposed extensive delays and considerable amounts of fees before handing over some records while refusing to release others,” according to their release. They also say Kilmartin withheld the pact “without even acknowledging its existence in their itemized list of withholdings.”

“All that we have found indicates that these AGs and their outside activist partners will make litigation necessary at every turn,” Richardson said.

EELI uncovered an email in early July showing Kilmartin’s office signed onto a common interest agreement with other AGs who were at the March event in New York City. EELI says the agreement is being used to block groups, like EELI, from getting certain documents in government records requests.

EELI said the email s evidence AGs have entered into an agreement to block records requests regarding investigations into ExxonMobil’s alleged campaign to mislead the public on global warming. Those investigations have ensnared conservative think tanks, policy experts and scientists with alleged ties to Exxon.

EELI’s lawsuit comes as three of the four investigations into Exxon have stalled or fallen apart.

Exxon has won legal victories against AGs of Massachusetts and the U.S. Virgin islands, both of which subpoenaed the company and supposedly-affiliated groups.

California AG Kamala Harris’s office opened an investigation into Exxon, but the company has yet to receive a subpoena from Harris. She’s not likely to push the investigation much further since she’s running for U.S. Senate.

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