An environmental center within New York University’s School of Law that was created and funded by former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has been executing a tightly knit public relations strategy with “progressive” state attorney general offices (OAGs), according to multiple emails obtained through open records requests.
Critics of such arrangements say that media coordination between NYU’s State Energy & Environmental Impact Center (SEEIC) and the OAGs raises ethical questions because of the attorney-client relationship between states and attorneys general.
The SEEIC’s methods generated some controversy after the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free-market think tank based in D.C., published a lengthy exposé last August backed by reams of government documents showing that the law center was paying for their own attorneys to be placed with OAGs across the country to do extra work on energy and climate litigation.
“We’re based in DC and work on legal and communications strategy with AGs around the country who are promoting and defending progressive policies on clean energy, the environment and climate change,” reads an email from the communications director of the SEEIC to an AG’s office sent in August of last year.
Some level of coordination is to be expected and may not be particularly noteworthy. However, some of the emails uncovered in the latest records requests “go beyond simply asking for retweets, etc. because they are more akin to organized political campaigns that are conducted on an ongoing basis,” according to Marquette University professor Paul Nolette, who tracks OAGs and has authored a book on how OAGs influence public policy.