Legal Group Claims Vermont AG Cherry Picks Who Can Access Public Info
A conservative legal group claimed Monday that Vermont’s attorney general withholds public information requests from groups that appear friendly toward ExxonMobil.
Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan questions the motives of groups seeking access to public information, E&E Legal told The Daily Caller News Foundation in a press statement. The group said the AG’s office admitted recently to googling E&E’s name to determine its political bias.
“OAG admitted in open court that it ‘googled’ E&E and concluded that the appearance among commentators of keywords such as ‘coal’ and ‘Exxon’ suggested E&E might have views different than its own and such a group possessing further public records would not be in the best interests of the State of Vermont,” E&E said.
Vermont Judge Mary Teachout heard arguments last week from Donovan regarding his office’s decision to withhold records reflecting its work with a team of AGs targeting Exxon’s climate research history.
The arguments also involved fleshing out records reflecting their conversations with other AGs involved with the investigation, which is meant to determine if the oil company hid knowledge about climate change from the public for decades.
The Exxon probes ushered in a slew of inquiries from other AGs, the bulk of whom have since dropped their pursuits. Many of the lawmen, including Donovan, bailed on the campaign out of concern New York AG Eric Schneiderman was pushing an agenda.
E&E released a large cache of internal emails between AGs in March, 2016, suggesting the anti-Exxon ranks were frayed, namely because of Schneiderman’s behavior. They believed the New York Democrat’s investigation was slowly delving into crusade of sorts.
One email indicates some attorneys general offices asked Schneiderman to back off going after Exxon. They were also critical of his effort to bring Exxon and the others up on racketeering charges.
Judge Ed Kinkeade remanded the case to New York, where the bulk of probes emanated – he took a few shots at what he thought was the Exxon investigation’s political bent before issuing a final ruling.
Kinkeade peppered lawyers for Schneiderman and Massachusetts counterpart, Maura Healey, both of whom spearheaded the probe, with questions implying their lengthy crusade is a politically motivated move to garner media attention.
“Are the two attorneys general trying to further their political agendas by using the vast power of the government to silence the voices of all those who disagree with them?” Kinkeade asked, referring to the AG’s environmental leanings, as well as their connections to wealthy environmentalists.
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