On September 21, 2017, Illinois’ AG applied for a privately funded special prosecutor for environment and climate, to pursue matters of concern to the donor Michael Bloomberg. This application states, inter alia:
The Illinois Attorney General’ s Office has the authority to hire an NYU Fellow as a Special Assistant Attorney General. We do not have any state -specific limitations or requirements governing the appointment of an employee paid by an outside funding source.
Bloomberg’s Center plainly believed IL OAG’s certification was well-founded, approving the application merely two weeks later, on September 29, 2018. On June 27, 2018, a Jason James agreed to be that privately funded special prosecutor “at a salary of $80,000 annually with health and other benefits provided by” Bloomberg’s operation.
Prior to this, Illinois’ AG signed an “Employee Secondment Agreement between the Illinois Attorney General’s Office and the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center at NYU School of Law” on January 16, 2018.
This certified, inter alia, “WHEREAS, The AGO has the authority consistent with applicable law and regulations to accept a Legal Fellow whose salary and benefits are provided by an outside funding source.” IL OAG did not cite to any such authority.
Illinois also certified, “The AGO has determined that NYU’ s payment of salary and benefits to the Legal Fellow and the provision of services by the Legal Fellow to the AGO do not constitute an impermissible gift under applicable law or regulation.”
Yet there is apparently no basis for OAG’s claims.
IL OAG has responded to the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) that OAG has “no records” on which it based its claims to possessing the legal authority to bring on board a Bloomberg-funded special prosecutor for climate, and that this posed no gift or ethical concerns.
As the attached records show, OAG’s asserted conclusions seem be mere assertions. There are “no records” suggesting otherwise. It’s just something the OAG (self-servingly) declared.
Because we now know that if OAG actually conducted any internal inquiry/inquiries, it did not memorialize it/them.
That would seem to be irresponsible, particularly given Illinois’ history of political corruption. The responsible step would have been an assessment of how anti-corruption statutes and norms do not apply to such an unprecedented scheme of inducements and public-private partnership in pursuing a political agenda, using law enforcement.
That would have required an actual analysis of the propriety of an activist donor providing a network of private attorneys and a public relations team to an AG to help him out on issues of interest to the donor.
Watch for more on this soon because, so far, not one OAG has pointed to any analysis it actually did before certifying it had the legal authority authority, and no legal or ethical/gift impediments, to bringing on a special prosecutor for climate funded by an activist donor.