City is plaintiff in campaign recently confirmed to be grab for “sustainable funding stream”
Today, the nonprofit governmental transparency group Energy Policy Advocates (EPA) filed an open records lawsuit against the City of Annapolis,Municipal climate suits Maryland. The suit seeks to compel the City to release documents shedding light on its participation in an activist-driven litigation campaign that, recently released records confirm, is a grab for a “sustainable funding stream”, and “new streams of revenue” – targeting private parties to underwrite governmental spending ambitions to avoid paying the political cost for big tax increases, and also seeking to coerce opponents of the “climate” policy agenda “to the table”, as numerous records show various parties admitting.
That litigation campaign has led to numerous suits seeking billions of dollars from private parties including one by Annapolis in the same court in which EPA filed its records suit. It also has launched attorney general investigations of private parties, and targeted more than 100 research and advocacy groups, scientists and other private parties and entities. Maryland AG Brian Frosh, using privately hired attorneys supplied to him by a Michael Bloomberg-funded group, is supporting the Mayor & City Council of Baltimore’s suit. EPA is still litigating in the Maryland Court of Appeals against Frosh’s Office, seeking records pertaining to its work with the tort bar.
EPA’s records suit involves two requests the City has responded to by withholding many records both in part and in full. Records it has released do show, however, certain specifics of the Center for Climate Integrity in arranging for Annapolis’s lawsuit. As the complaint notes, “after (Rockefeller Family Fund, or) RFF was exposed as the principal lobbyist and funder behind this spate of governmental lawsuits against parties the RFF had targeted and recruited investigations of in the name of catastrophic man-made climate change, a new organization supported by RFF stood in as the new point of contact for recruiting “climate” plaintiffs. That is a group described by one local activist group engaged by RFF in Minnesota, Fresh Energy, as the “the lawyers advising Rockefeller family fund” [sic], to wit: the Center for Climate Integrity (“CCI”).
“Public-record emails and text messages, as well as litigation privilege logs, show the Rockefeller Family Fund (“RFF”) has both directly and through organizations it financially underwrites arranged for the assistance of local intermediary groups to lobby these lawsuits into existence, including providing the local intermediaries with sample pleadings to present to public institutions to facilitate filings in their own jurisdictions.”
As EPA’s complaint states about its various efforts to educate the public on this remarkable use of government at the request of private interests, “Through these records the public has come to partially understand the genesis of these lawsuits and the role of Center for Climate Integrity. The requests at issue here seek to further inform the public, press, courts and lawmakers about this wave of litigation.”
These records are of great public interest. They reflect efforts to finance vastly expanded government spending without paying the political price for massive tax increases – though the costs even in any settlement with litigation targets would come from consumers, as well as employees and shareholders, simply routed through the targeted companies. The records also would further illuminate the unseemly public-private partnership between government, law enforcement, donors, activists and of course the trial bar, using public office toward private ends.
The City is withholding this information, sometimes every word of each of these records including purely factual information like to, from, date and subjects, as attorney work product or under attorney-client privilege. EPA Executive Director Rob Schilling comments, “politicians in Annapolis are seeking to hide their correspondence with lobbyists seeking to enrich law firms with City contracts. We filed suit because we think the public deserves to know.”