New York AG That Attacked Exxon Sued For Concealing Investigation

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Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) officials are suing New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for refusing to release documents that could reveal a coordinated campaign against climate change dissenters.

CEI filed a lawsuit Tuesday in New York State Supreme Court. Schneiderman denied the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit’s May 5 request under New York’s Freedom of Information Law for all documents involving a “common-interest agreement” among Schneiderman, state attorneys general and environmental groups seeking to intimidate climate change dissenters with subpoenas.

“What is AG Schneiderman’s office trying to hide?” CEI General Counsel Sam Kazman said in a statement. “None of the reasons Schneiderman claimed for withholding these documents are legitimate under New York law.”

Kazman said, “the public deserves to know what this AG, and the other AGs cooperating with him, agreed to when it came to targeting their political opponents, and that’s why we sought the common-interest agreement in the first place.”

Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Walker in April hit CEI with a subpoena for 10 years of emails and donor records, before withdrawing the subpoena amid a severe public backlash. That subpoena was a part of a broader campaign Schneiderman and 15 other Democratic attorneys general — calling themselves “AGs United For Clean Power” — announced in March, targeting Exxon Mobil for its stance on climate change. (RELATED: Dem AG Desperately Tries To Reboot Exxon Investigation)

Schneiderman’s staff claimed the records CEI requested are exempt from disclosure because they are privileged attorney-client communications. They involve attorney work product, would interfere with law enforcement activities and entail “inter-agency” or “intra-agency” materials.

“None of these four grounds for denying the request is legitimate under New York law,” CEI’s complaint said. Kazman suspects any agreements are a “pretext” for shielding records from the public.

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