- Some of the special assistant attorneys general involved in targeting energy companies have extensive ties to former Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
- Documents reveal attorneys behind the project targeting President Donald Trump’s regulatory rollback have deeper ties to Bloomberg than previously reported.
- One of the attorneys hired by a group targeting Trump and energy companies previously worked in former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office.
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ties to a group pushing to sue energy companies over climate change are a lot deeper than previously noted, according to documents obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Four of the special assistant attorneys general involved in the State Impact Center project have significant connections to the New York City billionaire, the documents show. Past reports fleshing out Bloomberg’s effort focused only on his roughly $6 million donation to the project.
Bloomberg’s grant went to the State Energy and Environmental Impact Center, which is designed to escalate attacks against President Donald Trump’s decision to eliminate several of his predecessor’s climate regulations. Documents appear to show Illinois, Maryland, the District of Columbia and others involved in the program hired attorneys with ties to the billionaire.
Sarah Kogel-Smucker of Washington D.C., for instance, worked in Bloomberg’s office as one of his top environmental lawyers, and implemented the former mayor’s bike share program in 2013. She began her career as an activist in 2004 with Sierra Club’s chapter before representing New York City in a 2017 lawsuit targeting the Trump administration’s regulation rollback.
Her career at the New York City Law Department’s Environmental Division coincided with Bloomberg’s tenure as mayor from Jan. 1, 2002, to Dec. 31, 2013. (RELATED: Judge Tosses Out New York City’s Climate Change Lawsuit)
Kogel-Smucker was also among the attorneys representing New York City in a federal lawsuit against ExxonMobil, BP, Royal Dutch Shell and others seeking to hold the energy companies responsible for present and damage to the city from global warming. A judge tossed out the case in July 2018, arguing the court system is not responsible for addressing climate change.
Other attorneys involved in the State Impact Center have an indirect connection to Bloomberg. Jason James, a special assistant attorney general in Illinois, for instance, was colleagues with Daniel Firger, a former researcher at the Columbia Law School Center for Climate Change Law. Firger chairs the Impact Center and heads Bloomberg Philanthropies’ climate change program.
Oregon special assistant attorney general Steve Novick shares connections to Bloomberg as well. One of Bloomberg’s biggest lobbyists, Jake Weigler, ran the former mayor’s gun control advocacy group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns in 2013. Weigler managed Novick’s campaign for unsuccessful run for U.S. Senate in 2008. He lost to then-House Speaker Jeff Merkley.
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, a longtime Democrat, appointed the former Portland city commissioner as a legal fellow to the AG office in 2018. She raised alarms in June 2018 after her office hired Novick.
“Are we sure it is correct to refer to him as a ‘volunteer.’ And not an employee,” Rosenblum asked her deputy AG in a June 17, 2018, email. “Can you be an unpaid employee of the State? As a SAAG doesn’t that make one an employee?”
Her email was included in a June 2018 report from the Competitive Enterprise Institute detailing the extent of Bloomberg’s campaign.
Rosenblum added: “I find it strange to call someone who is working under our supervision with the title of SAAG and who is getting paid (by a third-party) the same as he would if he were working for [the Department of Justice] as a regular [assistant attorney general] — a volunteer.”
Novick, meanwhile, has a long track record of environmental activism and is responsible for promoting a series of proposals targeting oil companies. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Court Memos Shed Light On Michael Bloomberg’s Role In NYC’s Climate Crusade)
Novick voted to divest Portland from the top 200 fossil fuel companies in 2015 during his time as the Portland City commissioner, though he said at the time, “This is obviously just one of the steps we need to take.”
He ultimately lost his re-election in 2016, becoming “the first sitting commissioner to lose re-election in 24 years.”
The billionaire environmentalist has since become something of a major liberal financier. Bloomberg, who spent $5 million on a television ad in favor of Democratic candidates two days ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, said in December 2018 he wants to see any plan potential presidential candidates have regarding climate change to make sure the plan could work. He made the demand while still considering a possible White House run in 2020.
Bloomberg has not yet responded to TheDCNF’s request for comment about what role his connections to Kogel-Smucker, Novick, James and Segal played in their current positions at the State Impact Center. The AG offices at Illinois, Maryland and the District of Columbia have not returned request for comment.