A Coalition of Corruption: How Activist Donors are Pushing Climate Litigation

In a new report,Law Enforcement for Rent How Special Interests Fund Climate Policy through State Attorneys General” Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) Senior Fellow Chris Horner details how activist donors are paying to place prosecutors in state attorney general offices to pursue an expressly partisan agenda. Records show this campaign to use the legal system to achieve political goals began as an informal coalition in 2016. That coalition disbanded under pressure from open records requests and media scrutiny. Eventually, it morphed into this new scheme to privately fund and place prosecutors in offices that promise to use “additional attorney resources” to “pursue progressive clean energy, climate change, and environmental legal positions.”

“Members of this coalition have already abused their law enforcement power by targeting opponents of their political agenda. They subpoenaed CEI in 2016 for a decade worth of private documents and donor information, trampling our First Amendment rights,” said Horner. “Fortunately, CEI took them to court and they backed down. Now, records show, others such as New York’s AG sought private funding specifically to pursue climate investigations. This mercenary use of state law enforcement power should be the subject of prompt legislative oversight.”

Read the Report on Attorney General Offices here.

It doesn’t stop there! This week media, activists, major environmental donors, and government officials will descend on San Francisco for the Global Climate Action Summit hosted by California Gov. Jerry Brown and co-chaired by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, United Nations representatives, and others. According to a seperate new report also by Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) Senior Fellow Chris Horner, the summit is part of a larger scheme, in which governors’ offices are coordinating with activists and donors, who in turn are underwriting a massive, off-the-books campaign to provide staff and other resources to elected officials.

In this report, “Government for Rent: How Special Interests Finance Governors to Pursue Their Climate Policy Agenda,” Horner uses public documents to demonstrate how donors are funneling tens of millions of dollars to privately fund staff—public relations professionals, consultants, and what aides call “necessary support functions”—for advocacy work at governors’ disposal. The documents, obtained through open records requests, show non-profit groups acting as well-compensated pass-through entities for donors to fund climate change work, directly hiring staff and providing other assets, in governors’ offices in California, New York, and Washington.

“Public records reveal a sprawling dark money enterprise to underwrite governors’ political advocacy for implementing the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement and the climate change agenda more broadly, because as some staffers said, ‘it can’t always be us staff’,” said Horner. “This unprecedented scheme of activist donors bankrolling governors committed to advancing their climate agenda is very concerning. It raises serious questions about the use of public offices to serve private interests, transparency and the reporting of these dollars, compliance with gift laws applying to elected officials, and restrictions on private financing of official activities.”

Read the report here.


Leave the first comment