Search Results for: sustainable funding stream
You likely have heard that the Supreme Court reached the right decision today in BP plc et al. v. City of Baltimore. That opinion concerns a mildly weedy procedural mater (whether the 4th Cir. erred in holding that it lacked the power to consider all of the defendants’ grounds for removal), but a critical one given the circumstances, and an opinion which should help in removing these cases to federal court where they belong.
All of these suits represent transparent attempts to manufacture state jurisdiction for a campaign whose proponents previously admitted was a national one to substitute verdicts for Congress’s refusal to adopt certain policies. This opinion serves as another reminder of the importance of the state vs federal jurisdictional issue in the wave of “climate” litigation washing over state courthouses around the country.
In the City of Baltimore case, GAO client Energy Policy Advocates (EPA) filed amicus briefs establishing what it had obtained, at the time, showing what these suits were about: obtaining a “sustainable funding stream” to underwrite governmental spending ambitions, and to coerce the defendants into becoming lobbyists for and funders of further lobbying for a national “climate” regulatory regime targeting hydrocarbon energy for extinction.
Tomorrow, EPA will release a report that reveals, for the first time, damning details confirming who is actually conducting this purportedly governmental litigation campaign and how they are doing it, as described in the parties’ own hand.
EPA’s work under state freedom of information laws has now made it no longer credible to continue questioning who is really bringing these nominally governmental suits into being. Specifically, this puts to rest forever an unfortunate claim by a federal judge almost precisely three years ago of “a missing link between the activists and AGs.” Not anymore.
This should be relevant to all pending state climate litigation, and other efforts such as Exxon Mobil’s move currently before the Texas State Supreme Court to obtain pre-suit discovery, and learn what is behind these raids by, e.g., California cities on Texas-based companies to fill the municipal coffers, and the plaintiffs’/advisors’ associated advocacy. Given what EPA has now learned and produced for public education, it seems inevitable that such efforts would be replicated to examine other suits filed in the Midwest and on the East Coast.
On remand to the Fourth Circuit — and in other fora in coming months — EPA looks forward to shedding more light on these improper litigation tactics.
Washington Times: Despite denials, count on Biden-Harris to direct AG to do their scandalous bidding
From the Washington Times:
With a potentially bruising Department of Justice confirmation battles looming, both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris now vigorously deny that they would ever direct their Attorney General to do their political bidding or target specific opponents. This would be unremarkable, had they not promised the opposite with equal vigor – and disturbing specificity – during the 2020 campaign.
CNN reports Biden saying in an interview, “‘I’m not going to be telling them what they have to do and don’t have to do. I’m not going to be saying, ‘Go prosecute A, B or C.’ I’m not going to be telling them. That’s not the role. It’s not my Justice Department, it’s the people’s Justice Department’. … Harris echoed the sentiment of Biden’s remarks on the Department of Justice. ‘We will not tell the Justice Department how to do its job,’ Harris said.”
So pay no attention to their unambiguous promise to weaponize DoJ: “Biden will instruct the Attorney General to” do all manner of things to impose a political agenda or target opponents, including, “(iii) strategically support ongoing plaintiff-driven climate litigation against polluters”.
The latter point of course refers to an expanding litigation campaign by activists and the tort bar to force the progressive’s “climate” agenda on the country, and to enrich themselves through what are in effect taxes paid by consumers, run through massive settlements with energy companies.
The plaintiffs’ team regularly admit that this is an attempt to use the courts as substitute policymaker for an agenda that keeps failing through the democratic process.
Their objectives are to “bring down the fossil fuel companies”, coerce defendants “to the table” and ultimately to enlist them as lobbyists for desired climate policies. That is, the idea is to substitute verdicts for the failure to enact policy by convincing the public.
Things will inevitably get confusing, therefore, should DoJ soon deploy the awesome powers of the federal government to assist political-ally plaintiffs, against perceived enemies of the climate. So consider some facts about this litigation campaign.
First, the Biden-Harris vow revives the plan to federally prosecute the “climate” opposition, as revealed in a 2016 colloquy between Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) of the Senate Judiciary Committee and then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
That was shocking. This is even more deplorable given it’s not just a uniquely obsessive senator egging on an AG with a suspect record of politicization; this involves a president and vice president vowing a political hit for political allies, whose clumsily synchronized backpedal only adds to suspicions.
And of course, there is no reason to expect the threat to deploy government in this way is just against whomever they decide is a ‘climate polluter’. The targets will be wide-ranging, as Whitehouse suggested.
I spent two decades with the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a consistently effective opponent of the “climate” agenda which, therefore, found itself the subject of a subpoena campaign in an early, coordinated assault among state, DC and even territorial attorneys general.
That campaign resulted from an infamous call in 2011 by the same activists and tort lawyers for “a single sympathetic attorney general” to go after private parties with investigations, in order to extract records for use by the “climate tort” bar.
Thanks to newly released records, we now know that an ambitious young state AG from California helped organize this coordination between tort bar and law enforcement.
Bringing us to today, with that same ambitious lady having confessed that, if elected Vice President, she will direct the Attorney General of the United States to take over. And also that she would never ever do that.
Washington wouldn’t be The Swamp if the AG who subpoenaed CEI and 100 others, the U.S. Virgin Islands’ Claude Walker, wasn’t recently, quietly installed at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as deputy director of criminal enforcement. Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together?
Biden-Harris ran for office with a very specific, deplorable promise of weaponizing the Department of Justice on behalf of friends’ private civil litigation, to compel fealty to a failed ideological god and punish the heretics.
Soon they will turn to putting a “sympathetic Attorney General” in place. Confirmation hearings must confront this overt promise, generally, and detail this specific scheme by the climate litigation industry to occupy law enforcement offices.
Recall that billionaire activist and major Democratic donor Michael Bloomberg has already “embedded” privately hired attorneys in progressive state AG offices as “Special Assistant Attorneys General” to push this agenda. As the government-transparency group Energy Policy Advocates recently detailed, these mercenaries also were immediately tasked with assisting these private plaintiffs’ suits.
We have learned that this campaign’s lead tort firm has received “grants” of millions of dollars from a charitable foundation, plainly to underwrite its work despite contingency fee agreements promising massive payouts from any settlement. This is seemingly problematic, and not just for the poor optics of double-dipping.
We have also learned of “climate” plaintiff Rhode Island – home of Sen. Whitehouse – confessing that their goal in is to obtain a “sustainable funding stream” because the legislature would not pass the taxes required to finance left-wing spending ambitions.
The Biden-Harris vow to order their Attorney General to enlist the Department of Justice in this troubling campaign is scandalous. The Attorney General confirmation hearings must elicit from the nominee an unambiguous condemnation and disavowal of such thuggery.
Chris Horner is an attorney in Washington, DC and member of the board of the public interest law firm Government Accountability & Oversight, P.C.
SCOTUS Brief Reveals Tort Bar, Attorneys General Coordination Pact for Nationwide Flood of ‘Purely Local’ “Climate Nuisance” Litigation
Bloomberg-provided Attorneys Insist to Courts “Climate” Suits are Local, Not Effort at National Policymaking; Documents Show These Attorneys Were Provided to AGs to Work on “Matters of National Importance”
Brief Reveals for First Time an AGs, Tort Bar Pact to Coordinate on “Local” Climate Nuisance Lawsuits
WASHINGTON, D.C., November 23, 2020 – The transparency group Energy Policy Advocates (“EPA”) today filed a Friend of the Court brief with the Supreme Court of the United States in BP P.L.C. et al. v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, revealing troubling facts about the epidemic of “climate nuisance” lawsuits being pursued by the tort bar in state courts nationwide. The Court is considering a largely jurisdictional question that goes to the heart of whether these cases remain in state court or can be removed to federal court given their obvious objective of obtaining national policy by circumventing the policymaking process.
First, EPA’s brief documents how privately hired attorneys, arranged for by billionaire political donor and climate policy activist Michael Bloomberg, were provided to progressive state attorneys general to work on energy, environment and climate matters “of national importance”. These “Special Assistant Attorneys General” were then promptly assigned by the AGs receiving the donations – including in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Minnesota, New York and Washington, D.C. – to filing lawsuits and amicus briefs insisting that climate litigation is a purely local matter and must remain in state courts which, emails show the tort bar network telling prospective clients, present the “more advantageous venue for these cases”.
In fact, the very deliberate multi-front litigation campaign is – and as EPA also documents, has repeatedly been revealed over the years to be – an effort to bring about national policy which the climate industry has failed to obtain through policymaking channels. As such, these suits were repeatedly removed to federal court, where they were dismissed for the same reason.
The tort bar, AGs and plaintiffs all adapted – together, EPA reveals in today’s brief. They shifted to claims that these suits were in fact purely local affairs involving local damages and state consumer protection laws, and so should be tried in state court. This led to absurd arguments, such as that a case seeking to penalize regulated industries for carbon (dioxide) emissions was not “really not a case about carbon emissions, it’s not a case about any kind of pollution abatement, it is not a case about national treaties, and it doesn’t implicate any federal scheme.”
Affirming the coordinated national effort, for the first time EPA’s brief also revealed two documents confessing to coordination-by-contract among attorneys general from coast to coast and with the “climate nuisance” tort bar, since at least April 2018, on “joint participation in the Climate Change Litigation to be developed, including the development of litigation strategy and the preparation of legal briefs.” The pact specifies “the Climate Change Litigation” and, as of December 2019, that list has included Mayor and City of Baltimore v. B.P. P.L.C.
These suits flooding state courts claim to be purely local affairs for one reason. As today’s EPA brief notes, “the public records Amicus EPA has obtained reveal the extraordinary efforts of various states and municipalities, and their partners in litigation, to evade American Electric Power.” That is the SCOTUS precedent confirming that federal statutory law supersedes federal common law regarding causes of action to regulate carbon dioxide emissions. Which is to say that these suits seeking federal policy stand no chance in the federal courts.
In its brief at the petition stage, EPA had already documented to the Court how two independent sets of notes obtained under a state open records law, taken during a two-day meeting in July 2019 hosted by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund at the Rockefeller family mansion at Pocantico, NY, recorded the damning “funding stream” confession by Janet Coit, a State of Rhode Island cabinet-level official.
Each of these sets of notes, independently, “document the State’s concession that Rhode Island’s elected representatives are insufficiently moved by the State’s claims of loss and looming disaster to enact laws raising the revenues the State’s executives desire; and, that Plaintiff is thus ‘looking for [a] sustainable funding stream’, having been reduced to ‘suing big oil’ for its ‘Priority – sustainable funding stream’. Notably, both sets of notes capture [Rhode Island] as having emphasized the ‘state court’ aspect of its plan.”
Rhode Island, the plaintiff in Rhode Island v. Chevron, et al., shares the same private legal counsel retained by the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore. As EPA also previously noted to the Court, “That Rhode Island and the City of Baltimore share not only claims and legal strategies but legal counsel, whose recruiting team has emphasized to targeted governmental entities the desire to keep these matters in state court as the ‘more advantageous venue for these cases,’ given this Court’s ruling in American Electric Power, raises concerns that the climate nuisance plaintiffs also share the hope for state court biases in the campaign to eliminate budgetary shortfalls and otherwise make policy through tort litigation.”
The Fourth Circuit Baltimore case before the Supreme Court is one among many proliferating in state courts, from coast to coast. The various abuses of the judicial system in this litigation epidemic is reminiscent of another matter cited by EPA in its brief at the petition stage, quoting the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in Chevron Corp. v. Donziger: “The point of the multi-front strategy thus was to leverage the expense, risks, and burden to [defendant] of defending itself in multiple jurisdictions to achieve a swift recovery, most likely by precipitating a settlement.” As EPA’s brief details, this strategy also seeks to force defendants to be more than just golden geese, but also to become lobbyists for the “climate” policy agenda.
The records presented in today’s Amicus Curiae brief by EPA confirm that this suit and those like it represent of a coordinated, nationwide effort both to raise “sustainable funding streams” that elected representatives are unwilling to impose the taxes to obtain, and impose federal policy that has eluded the plaintiffs through the proper democratic processes.
GAO’s Matthew Hardin filed on EPA’s behalf.
Government Accountability & Oversight is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to transparency in public officials’ dealings on matters of energy, environment and law enforcement
As Washington Gov. Jay Inslee comes to Capitol Hill Tuesday to teach us “lessons from across the nation: state and local action to combat climate change”, public records — including some released here for the first time — offer the public a few eye-opening lessons about what Gov. Jay Inslee has been up to.
Ten Questions for Climate Industry Entrepreneur of the Year, Gov. Jay Inslee
Gov. Inslee, public records demonstrate your remarkable entrepreneurial spirit, unique in the Climate Industry. This manifests itself in, e.g., the serial announcement of ‘groups’ that, while they generally do not in fact exist (they are websites), do somehow have millions of dollars worth of consultants, lawyers and report-writers to promote your ‘leadership’ on a matter you have adopted as your signature issue.
Sometimes the money is from donors — e.g., the multi-million dollar websites “US Climate Alliance” and Governors Climate Alliance — and sometimes the money is taken from taxpayers — “Pacific Coast Collaborative” and the the campaign to tell the “West Coast Story”.
Always, however, these enterprises are dedicated to promoting Gov. Jay Inslee’s climate ‘leadership’, with lots of staff, public relations and other and consultants. Indeed, they seem to be dedicated to promoting Jay Inslee, “his climate profile” and his ambitions.
Public records show that you have contracted out your office as a consultant for an environmentalist pressure group, World Resources Institute (WRI), in at least two agreements providing hundreds of thousands of dollars of private underwriting for your use of the Office of the Governor.
These consulting arrangements include for you to use the Office of Governor “to perform those services described” for the client — specifically to “[t]ake forward new and existing policies” among other prescribed climate activism (Contract Number K2154); and, to engage in more advocacy as Governor on “issues and communications related to climate and clean energy policy development” (Contract Number K2575).
Public records also show that your Office is transferring hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in taxpayer money, including apparently a quarter of a million Washington State taxpayer dollars, to pay consultants also to promote your climate advocacy and platform (Contract Number K2191).
This entrepreneurship, unique even in the norm-busting Climate Industry, would be newsworthy in any year. It is particularly so this year. Your honored position, having your own panel before the powerful House Energy & Commerce Committee, affirms this.
Given this very deliberate and indeed unprecedented record of “profile-building”, these very same issues for which you have contracted the Governor’s office as a vendor, re-routed taxpayer money, and recruited donor funds to be routed through a non-profit, we have a few important questions, the answers to which should be of great public interest:
- Do you see any campaign finance-related or ethics issues with running donor money through a non-profit to develop and promote what turns out to have been your national “profile”?
- If not, is there something unique about your relationship with the Hewlett Foundation and United Nations Foundation, which provided these benefits for your climate policy campaigning? (e.g., Contract K2575; also, the US Climate Alliance your staff organized to be run out of the UN Foundation with, so far, at least $1,435,000 from Hewlett Foundation)
- Same questions, but about policy groups coordinating these donor efforts with your Office?
- Do you see any campaign-finance-related or ethics issues with contracting out one’s public office as a consultant to, e.g., the National Rifle Association, American Petroleum Institute, or National Right to Life, to “take forward new and existing policies” of interest to those non-profits? If not, is there something unique about your relationship with the Hewlett Foundation? (e.g., Contracts K2154, K2575)
- Do you see any campaign-finance-related or ethics issues with running taxpayer money through a consultancy to to develop and promote what turns out to have been your national “profile”? (e.g., Contract K2191)?
- What is the functional difference between what your US Climate Alliance partner Gov. Andrew Cuomo is under FBI investigation for doing, and what you are doing in redirecting at least a quarter million dollars of Washington State taxpayer money from various agencies’ budgets via Contract K2191? From the public record, the sole distinction appears to be that you are arranging for taxpayer money to pay non-state employees (consultants to promote your climate efforts), as opposed to paying in-office staff (Cuomo).
- Do you see it as an appropriate use of tax-exempt status for any non-profit policy group to contract with donors to hire non-staff ‘staff’ for elected officials? To allow donors to finance use of the non-profit’s staff to run an elected official’s advocacy campaign? Or, is there something unique about your relationship with the United Nations Foundation, which contracted with the Hewlett Foundation to finance the hiring of ‘staff’ for, subcontracting its own staff for, and running your “US Climate Alliance” with donor funding?
- Do you see it as an appropriate use of tax-exempt status for any activist donor group to directly provide six-figure report-writing services to elected officials, and the public relations services to promote them? Or is there something unique about your relationship with the Hewlett Foundation which provided these benefits for your climate policy campaigning?
- That is, do you see any campaign-finance-related or ethics issues with a public office-holder contracting out his office as a consultant by which, e.g., the National Rifle Association, American Petroleum Institute, or National Right to Life, hire, pay for and place an advisor in the elected official’s office?
- Your staff informed the Wall Street Journal editorial board that there was “no direct relationship to WA” between Hewlett Foundation money run through WRI and payment for your climate policy advisor, Reed Schuler. Your office copied your Policy Director Keith Phillips on the email. However, numerous public records show Mr. Phillips specifically boasted about Hewlett’s behind-the-scenes involvement in arranging for the placement and payment of your in-office climate policy advisor. Do you stand by the statement that your Office was unaware of the source of the funding, and/or that Hewlett was not in fact the source of activist funding of your policy “staff”?
Contracts obtained through FOI:
On Monday afternoon, May 6, 2019, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh filed an Answer in response to an open records lawsuit by Government Accountability & Oversight, P.C., a suit that seeks Frosh’s application to Michael Bloomberg’s “Center for State Impacts” for a privately hired prosecutor to “advanc[e] progressive clean energy, climate change, and environmental legal positions.”
That Center hired and is paying an attorney $125,000 plus benefits to serve as a “Pro Bono [sic] Special Counsel” in Frosh’s office in pursuit of issues of importance to Bloomberg and his Center. The group was organized for this purpose after the election of Donald Trump dealt the global warming agenda a setback.
As GAO details in its complaint, Frosh actually set the attorney’s six-figure salary before then appointing him a “pro bono” lawyer.
This is problematic: as affirmed in 2015 in State vs. Westray, under Maryland law “’Pro bono,’ of course, means that not only does the client not need to pay, but also the attorney represents the client without compensation.”
GAO has subsequently learned that Frosh first appointed the lawyer on January 3, 2018, but without citing to any authority under Maryland law, which apparently does not exist. Then in another letter dated two weeks later — though apparently back-dated, as it was emailed to the lawyer over two months later — Frosh then appointed him citing to the inapplicable “pro bono” provision.
Maryland OAG’s defiance represents a landmark refusal to provide a document that, while surely politically embarrassing and possibly offering legal or ethical peril, is not privileged.
That makes Frosh’s Office the only attorney general’s office to claim, brazenly, that whatever it promised to Bloomberg’s group, it is properly hidden from the public’s view.
Not neighboring Virginia or the District of Columbia or Virginia, not Illinois, New York, Vermont, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington state…
Only Brian Frosh.
Interestingly, last week Frosh’s Office released just under 100 pages of correspondence about this scheme from the GMail account he uses to communicate with Bloomberg’s group, and other Bloomberg consultants. These show that Brian Frosh was in fact the state attorney general driving this scheme, for Bloomberg’s group, of placing privately funded lawyers in OAGs.
Frosh gave the pitch in a conference call to the Democratic Attorneys General Association (DAGA) members, and served as the “sponsor” in the National Association of Attorneys General. Other emails show Bloomberg’s group praising Frosh’s leadership role in the scheme.
This reality of Frosh’s use of a private account for this purpose — GAO has also learned it is the practice of the Bloomberg group to use AG and OAG officials’ non-official accounts — slipped through in an earlier public records production. That contained an email the AG had forwarded to a colleague, leading to the request that produced these records (Maryland also withheld some unstated number of emails from Frosh’s GMail account as privileged).
Now, Brian Frosh is the one AG who wants to keep whatever it is he promised Bloomberg’s operation free from public scrutiny. The public deserves to know what Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh is trying to hide.
Release re: suit vs. Maryland Office o the Attorney General https://climatelitigationwatch.org/gao-complaint-against-maryland-ag-frosh/
Video: Law Enforcement For Rent In Maryland https://climatelitigationwatch.org/video-law-enforcement-for-rent-in-maryland/