Tort Lawyer Gives Private “What Exxon Knew” Slide Show, AG Announces “What Exxon Knew” Investigation Weeks Later
In three previous posts CLW has revealed the Miracle of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office course reversal on what is and what is not privileged from public scrutiny, when confronted with the prospect of defending those claims before a court.
Those posts discussed OAG’s NYU State Impact Center fellowship program application and related correspondence. Energy Policy Advocates (EPA) filed suit to compel production, after a favorable decision on appeal by EPA to the Supervisor of Public Records yielded only delay by OAG to comply with that decision.
Now, The Big One.
EPA’s June 3 lawsuit necessitated by this stonewalling also sought production of certain correspondence between OAG and plaintiff’s attorney Matt Pawa. Pawa, known for his call for a “single sympathetic attorney general” to launch investigations of energy companies so the plaintiff’ bar could get some potentially useful record — via law enforcement — shopped a presentation along these lines to those “sympathetic AGs”. Including to Massachusetts OAG in December 2015.
(Spoiler Alert: They said Yes.)
EPA sought that correspondence. OAG refused, citing to the harm that releasing here emails would cause its investigation. If the public knew even the To, From and Date fields, it pleaded (seriously), that could bring it all crashing down!
This request and response were similar to prior requests submitted by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, in response to which OAG invoked the same risible claim. EPA appealed the decision to the Supervisor of Public Records on May 9, 2019. SPR agreed with EPA…then reversed itself through a shady chain of events detailed in CLW’s “Hide the Opine” posts.
As the deadline came for Massachusetts AG Healey to answer EPA’s complaint — and respond to very specific, troubling factual allegations about Pawa’s influence on and relationship with OAG — OAG abruptly released all of the Pawa emails in dispute, stating only that “[a]fter further review, our office has decided to provide the six pages of records.”
It seems that the threat of answering those factual allegations to a court was greater than the supposed threat to the investigation by releasing the documents and hoping the media continue to give it and the rest of these OAGs a pass on this norm-busting use of law enforcement office.
These records confirm the chronology — January 11, 2016 tort lawyer pleads with OAG to launch a “What Exxon Knew” investigation; March 29, 2016 announcement investigation into “what Exxon knew” — and place Healey’s “climate” investigations and use of law enforcement in a scandalous light.