Here’s The ‘Secret Pact’ Dem Attorneys General Were Using To Block FOIAs

REUTERS/Mike Segar

Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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A government watchdog group has released a copy of the “secret pact” Democratic attorneys general signed to block government records requests for documents regarding ongoing investigations into global warming skeptics.

The Energy & Environmental Legal Institute (EELI) has released the “Common Interest Agreement” that 17 mostly Democratic AGs signed in order to prevent government records requests into ongoing investigations into ExxonMobil’s global warming stance. Those probes have also ensnared dozens of free market think tanks and scientists who oppose stringent climate regulations.

“It’s baffling that these AGs feel they can trample on their own states’ public records laws,” David Schnare, EELI’s general counsel, said in a statement.

EELI has been locked in litigation with Democratic AGs offices for months in order to obtain records regarding the Exxon probes. AGs held an event in March where they promised to protect Obama administration global warming rules and investigate fossil fuel companies allegedly misleading the public or shareholders on global warming.

“If they truly believe that they are engaged in anything other than a purely political campaign, they should have no problem explaining to the public what they are doing and subjecting their activities to the scrutiny their legislatures demanded,” Schnare said.

EELI said common interest agreements are a legal tool used to block records requests while there’s ongoing litigation. But in the case of Exxon, no state has begun to litigate against the company. Four AGs opened up investigations into the company, but only three ever filed subpoenas.

Still, 17 AGs signed onto the agreement, including “California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Washington State, Massachusetts, Illinois, Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, US Virgin Islands, and Vermont,” according to EELI.

EELI obtained emails in April that showed environmental activists were working behind the scenes with Democratic AGs to push an investigation into Exxon. Activists want to punish the company for funding groups skeptical of global warming. New York AG Eric Schneiderman’s office tried to cover up activist involvement, according to EELI-obtained emails.

“This is far less a proper common interest agreement than a sweeping cloak of secrecy, one this ‘informal coalition’ is trying to cast over all discussions of their use of law enforcement to impose the ‘climate’ agenda. Including with outside activists and even donors,” Chris Horner, a senior legal fellow at EELI, said.

Schneiderman was the first AG to launch an investigation into Exxon based on allegations made by left-wing reporters at InsideClimate News and Columbia University the company “knew” of the dangers of global warming, but funded skeptic groups to mislead the public about climate science.

Those reports, however, were backed by wealthy liberal foundations opposed to fossil fuels — some of those reporters didn’t disclose they were funded by left-wing groups when they got their piece published in the Los Angeles Times.

Schneiderman was quickly followed by California AG Kamala Harris, U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Walker and Massachusetts AG Maura Healey.

Only Schneiderman, however, has an active subpoena with Exxon. Walker has withdrawn the subpoena he sent Exxon, and Healey’s office has agreed to temporarily suspend enforcing her subpoena.

Harris’s office opened an investigation into Exxon, but the company has yet to receive a subpoena.

Here’s a copy of the “secret pact” signed by the 17 AGs.

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