Readers of Climate Litigation Watch are familiar with both the recent machinations in New Jersey, and also the curiousso-called “contingency” relationship between progressive politicians and the plaintiffs’ bar. Emails obtained in GAO v. Regents confirmed that the law firm filing the bulk of these suits is already being paid millions of dollars to file them. These millions first came as “charitable grants” for, oddly, purposes that differed year by year in reports to the IRS but which we know, from the UCLA emails, was to underwrite the lawsuits. Then, after a law professor raised an eyebrow about this, the loot was soon being split halvsies as “charitable grants” and compensation to a contractor. Then, after the UCLA revelations, the operation shifted to the “Democratic Dark Money Juggernaut,” “the ‘mothership’ behind a network of Democratic dark money nonprofit groups”.
CLW said this about that in a post about a NJ recruiting video:
But note the stunner. In a presentation to activists and potential governmental plaintiffs, at 1:01, the same lawyer says “The lawyers only get paid if and when there is a successful settlement of judgement at the end.”
The raging issue is, what did the politicians know and when did they know it? Are they knowingly double-dipping to pursue major donors’ pet project, or have they been kept in the dark about the payments already being made? Was Keith Ellison (et al.) a dupe, or was he in on the gag? The pols promise massive sums to a firm, which is already being paid to file these lawsuits, to file these lawsuits, only if they and prevail in or settle…but out of purported taxpayer damages (Of course, a video available at CLW shows participants joking about how much money they get and how they might use it to buy stuff they want). But, don’t they know what’s going on? Who faces peril here depends on what the answer to that is.
These two issues of New Jersey and contingency fee arrangements met when the appointed Attorney General of New Jersey, Mathew Platkin, filed a lawsuit last fall within three weeks of being confirmed by the state senate. That’s quite a priority for someone who had failed to mention such an undertaking during that confirmation process (one of these recruiting videos available at CLW shows locals indicating the AG is just doing Governor Phil Murphy’s bidding). Such details before or while under oath just lead to more questions. Or maybe it just occurred to him later.
Regardless, the Office does not want the public to see the terms of and relevant disclosures in its agreement with the law firm. Now, GAO has filed suit to obtain the state’s contract with the firm. The complaint explains things and can be read here. A hearing at which the OAG will be required to Show Cause for its curious redactions is presently set for mid-September.
Fake Hearings? Boulder City Council Records Suggest Another ‘Public-Private Partnership’ with Activists
UPDATE: Exemplar Documents Loaded
UPDATE: Documents loaded (some Word docs follow separately, with interesting Properties)
GAO has documented the seemingly inarguable outsourcing of congressional oversight to donors, and their unelected donees, that reared its head in Washington, DC during the (mercifully concluding) 117th Congress.
Recently, GAO reviewed public records obtained by Energy Policy Advocates which suggest this is becoming a real thing outside the beltway, too. Consider the Boulder (CO) City Council, again in the context of climate and again specifically to try and give a boost to climate litigation (curious: is this widespread or just a climate industry thing?).
There is lots more in the somewhat buggy document (which we are attempting to shrink and post in full), affirming what transpired and further illuminating this practice.
The first thing that leaps out, after the obvious deployment of government by and for activists, is the reappearance of players from the ‘climate’ tort bar’s recruitment of Florida municipalities.
Because, well, of course.
GAO is continuing to wrestle with the document’s idiosyncrasies. We will return with items offering particular insights about how this governmental body came to be used this way, as we encounter them.
GAO has loaded some select documents showing how these uses of government come about, as it deals with the original’s issues.
UPDATE: The totality of the PDF’d emails are here. Additional Word docs attached to those emails are here — some of them, like this, and this, have properties further showing the role of outside activists in producing nominally official output; xlsx docs attached to the emails are here, here and here.
Climate Industrial Complex: Emails Out ‘Urgent’ Media Role in Climate Complex, ‘Climate Disinformation’ Hearings
Bloomberg reporter outed as tool of climate PR/cancelation campaign, Hill hearings:
‘Urgently’ pressing story for House “climate disinformation” hearings this week, which emails also show had been pitched since at least February just prior to a previous, scrubbed House ‘disinformation’ hearing
Defending Facebook’s “Climate Feedback” cancelation campaign of intimidating and harassing climate realists into silence, reporter assails FOIAing the public employees involved as the real ‘intimidation, ‘harassment’
The Emails showing media’s role affirm the coordinated Hill, media, activist climate PR effort to cancel opposition
Early last week a Bloomberg ‘cyber reporter’ named Margi Murphy began furiously emailing and calling two groups (Energy Policy Advocates and Government Accountability & Oversight), and seemingly anyone else for whom she could identify some association with the groups, expressing the ritual media complaint of “harassing climate scientists” — by which she of course meant seeking public records in the sincerest form of flattering Greenpeace, which pioneered such uses of open records laws. It was clumsy but, again, not unfamiliar as these stories get spun out every few years during moments of climate-complex desperation.
Then new emails released Friday evening made things much more interesting.
This reporter’s specific grievance was the apparent tyranny of using public records laws to obtain public release of public records showing how public servants use their publicly financed positions and resources to help out Facebook’s cancelation campaign, “Climate Feedback”. That operation is styled as an ‘independent fact checker’ but (like some media outlets, it seems) on call to try and cancel those who effectively question climate dogma — specifically to date Steve Koonin, Richard Lindzen/PragerU, Bjorn Lomborg, Michael Shellenberger, and John Stossel.
While this cancelation campaign — like Greenpeace’s FOIAs — is of course virtuous, asking about public employees’ role in it is “intimidation” and “harassment”. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
As the week came to a close the reporter became increasingly frantic in her (her word) urgency. Once the rumored House “climate disinformation” hearings were officially noticed — including, amusingly, on “the role of public relations firms” — it became clear the scribbler was hurrying to crank out something usable in those fora. Witnesses will feature not only our Greenpeace heroes but another (publicly employed) academic who participates through her public position in an operation called the “Climate Social Science Network”, created by Tom Steyer-backed interests it seems to generate oppo research in the guise of academic chin-stroking at up to $60,000 per paper.
That is to say, there’s a coordinated media/Hill/activist PR campaign aggressively using government office and other public resources to decry opposition to their agenda as a coordinated PR campaign and therefore improper, and that asking for records about how public institutions are used in intimidating, harassing campaigns to cancel opponents is the real intimidation and harassment. (Putting aside that this practice was rolled out by greens, uses a tool created by the political left (now we learn: only for the left), and is a condition of public employment these public servants agreed to.)
The Bloomberg reporter largely reflected the self-unaware, par-for-the-course. But then the Fates conspired to release more, deliciously timed emails Friday evening, and they confirmed: this ‘urgent’ Bloomberg item had also been pitched (our guess: yes, by a public relations firm! Which one(s)?) to others, since at least late January or February. Each time coincided with House hearings that were in need of such props.
Those Friday evening emails came from a climate industry boiler room, UCLA Law School, and included at the tail end “Ronan Farrow’s investigative researcher,” seeking comment for a story about the same two groups for the very same expressed reason (poor Climate Feedback thugs were getting FOIA requests). This, too, came just before a House “disinformation” hearing that also needed something to breathlessly wave around, though that event was scrubbed after it was obvious the first hearing flopped.
This embarrassing reveal is delightfully affirming of what the day-to-day evidence suggested about our institutions, and the importance of the public’s right to know about it.
Emails revealed Hollywood and other wealthy donors quietly financing law firm, with charitable foundation serving as pass-through for millions in “charitable grants”
Late last month, the Superior Court for Los Angeles County awarded Government Accountability & Oversight $225,000 for local counsel James K.T. Hunter’s time spent litigating the California Public Records Act litigation, Government Accountability & Oversight v. Regents.
This lawsuit to obtain public access to public records spanned just over two years, in which the University waged a scorched-earth effort of obstruction, enlisting a team of lawyers including a major law firm’s former chair of global litigation and of its appellate practice group, for what the school then insisted to the court was really a nothingburger of a case.
Based on the hundreds of hours GAO’s two lawyers were forced to spend on the matter, it seems likely that UCLA paid its own outside firm five or more times that amount. As such, GAO is still struggling to discern the school’s actual view of the importance of the matter.
A hint as to the suit’s importance can be found in the substance of what GAO learned on the public’s behalf. In April, the court ordered UCLA to release most of what GAO sought, following which GAO broke the story laid out in those records that Leonardo DiCaprio and at least one green Republican donor (and quite possibly another, influential Republican donor, Andrew Sabin) have — from the beginning — privately financed the wave of “climate nuisance” litigation brought on behalf of governmental entities by the law firm Sher Edling, LLP.
The millions of dollars were run through a public charity as “charitable donations” to the firm. This pre-paid financing model of suits — which are nonetheless being prosecuted under extraordinarily generous “contingency fee” agreements offering amounts typically associated with firms taking the risk of not being paid for the work — seemingly represents a revolution in the legal industry.
So, GAO is pleased to announce that, although it took two years of litigation for the public to learn about this, despite UCLA’s apparent willingness to do and spend anything to keep this under wraps, the public now better understands the climate litigation industry and even its genesis: Hollywood bigwigs taking tax deductions to launch a legal tsunami.
That suggests one reason why the University fought and spent as it did.
These revelations might well have implications for one or more of the “climate” lawsuits the Hollywood money is actually paying for.
As GAO and the public further assess the meaning of this and related information, GAO expects further developments on this issue.