New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is hiding emails showing he is colluding with wealthy environmentalists to take down ExxonMobil, a conservative legal group argued in court Tuesday.
E&E Legal believes the New York Democrat is refusing to disclose documents indicating environmentalists Tom Steyer and members of the Rockefeller Family Foundation prodded Schneiderman into investigating the oil company’s climate science. He is legally entitled to keep internal communication private, but is obligated to fork over information sent to outside parties.
The group told Judge Arlene Bluth that Schneiderman’s aide Christina Harvey sent an email in October to her boss and an outside political consultant, Kristie Stiles. Harvey’s email, as well as those sent to other outsiders, should not be protected, E&E Legal argued.
He uses a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) “law enforcement” exemption to justify blocking the requests, and claims his communication with the donors is part of the Exxon investigation.
E&E’s lawyer, Francis Menton, said Schneiderman’s office waived any right to keeping the documents private after sending them to Stiles. The AG’s legal office, meanwhile, argues Harvey never expected Stiles to read the email.
Menton’s argument comes on the heels of a report from The Daily Caller News Foundation last week showing members of NY AG’s office have used private emails to send communications to outside sources.
FOIA’d documents obtained earlier this year show that Lem Srolovic, the assistant attorney general at the New York Attorney General’s Office, used his personal email account in 2012 to prepare for a meeting with environmental organizations. His memo raises questions about how often Schneiderman’s office uses personal emails for professional meetings.
It’s not clear from the email if the meeting was meant to build a case against fossil fuel companies like Exxon, but there is evidence the campaign against the oil company began as early as 2012 at the La Jolla conference.
The heads of RFF, David Kaiser and Lee Wasserman, admitted in December that the only way to target the oil company for hiding climate change research was to request the New York AGs office to probe Exxon.
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