NY’s Anti-Trump AG Asks Court To Deny Exxon Access To Climate Crusaders’ Emails

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  • New York Attorney General Letitia James is asking a court to refuse ExxonMobil request for access to emails from assistant attorneys who were supposedly involved in a climate lawsuit against the oil company.
  • New York’s new attorney general is pushing back against Exxon’s request for emails from two attorneys from her office who have direct ties to former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s foundation.
  • NY’s climate crusade takes another turn as anti-Trump AG James is stonewalling Exxon’s request for more information regarding the state’s climate lawsuits.

New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office is refusing to make available to ExxonMobil two of the attorneys involved in climate lawsuits leveled against the oil company, according to court documents filed in New York.

Special Assistant Attorneys General Matthew Eisenson and Gavin McCabe were not working for the New York Attorney General Office during the state’s initial decision to sue the company, James’ office told Judge Barry Ostrager in a court memo filed on May 6. Her refusal to make both attorneys available comes as Exxon is trying to determine their role in the state’s lawsuit. 

Exxon is requesting to sift through the emails of Eisenson and McCabe, both of whom joined the NYOAG through a fellowship with the New York University State Impact Center, which began in August 2017 with a $6 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies. McCabe and Eisenson were significantly involved in the lawsuit throughout 2018. James wants the court to deny Exxon’s request.

McCabe, for his part, signed an amicus brief in June 2018 supporting New York City’s year-long climate lawsuit against Exxon and Chevron. He’s one of at least eight attorneys hired by attorneys general across the country to work on environmental litigation. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg founded Bloomberg Philanthropies in 2017 to provide AGs with attorneys to help push green energy policies.

Former New York City Mayor and possible 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg listens REUTERS/Brian Snyder

McCabe’s involvement suggests Bloomberg’s money is playing a role in the anti-Exxon campaign. He made himself a part of the lawsuit demanding energy companies compensate the city for the alleged damages from man-made global warming. U.S. District Judge John Keenan ultimately dismissed New York City’s case in July after months of arguments. The city appealed the decision in November 2018.

The city’s lawsuit is the third such claim brought against oil companies Exxon, Chevron, BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Conoco Phillips. Another judge in Northern California struck down identical lawsuits in June 2018 brought by the cities of San Francisco and Oakland. The legal maneuvers are a boon for trial lawyers as well. (EXCLUSIVE: Court Memos Shed Light On Michael Bloomberg’s Role In NYC’s Climate Crusade) 

Some critics believe Bloomberg Philanthropies is being used as a type of pass-through entity through which donors can support elected officials with resources that legislatures will not provide and which donors cannot legally provide directly. Oregon AG Ellen Rosenblum, for instance, raised alarms in June 2018 after her office hired environmental lawyer Steve Novick as a special assistant AG (SAAG).

“Are we sure it is correct to refer to him as a ‘volunteer.’ And not an employee,” Rosenblum, a longtime Democrat, asked her deputy AG in a June 17 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 report from the Competitive Enterprise Institute detailing the extent of Bloomberg’s campaign.

James, a Democrat and former AG Eric Schneiderman’s successor, for her part, has sought bank records relating to the Trump Organization and its affiliates. She has continued a Schneiderman against the now-defunct Trump Foundation, alleging violations of federal and state laws governing nonprofits. Schneiderman resigned in 2018 following domestic abuse allegations.

James has either kickstarted or joined lawsuits targeting President Donald Trump. She joined litigation against the president’s plan to build a wall along the border with Mexico. “As the next attorney general of [Trump’s] home state, I will be shining a bright light into every dark corner of his real estate dealings, and every dealing, demanding truthfulness at every turn,” James said in November 2018.

James’ office has not yet responded to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment about the nature of the court memo.

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