Last week, CLW informed its readers that Connecticut Attorney General William Tong had released his “NYU Law Fellow Application” to the transparency group Energy Policy Advocates (EPA). As CLW readers know, these applications were in fact responses to a request for proposals by a group created by billionaire party donor and climate activist Michael Bloomberg, to place privately hired activist attorneys as “Special Assistant Attorneys General” (SAAGs”).
This week, even Minnesota AG Keith Ellison’s Office – something of a scofflaw in responding to open records requests on this subject, as EPA has pointed out in litigation – released his “application”.
While long overdue, surely this change of heart and assurance that other responses were forthcoming had nothing to do with learning that EPA will go to court to press the public’s rights.
In addition to litigating Trump administration reforms, these SAAGs are deployed investigating private parties, eerily similar to the help requested by the tort bar in its famous call for “a single sympathetic attorney general” to begin subpoenaing private party records and thereby give the plaintiffs’ campaign a boost.
Indeed, like so many other AGs and particularly New York’s OAG, Ellison’s application leaves no doubt that he seeks Bloomberg’s resources to use his public office to pursue private parties. The same parties the tort bar plead for help going after.
Although he only took office in January, Ellison specifically mentions his work “supporting state-led efforts to investigate ExxonMobil” as one of the areas where he would like more lawyers to help out with so “the Office can expand its role”.
CLW expects this understanding between the donor and AGs to be a key element of the ultimate downfall of these extraordinary public-private prosecutorial campaigns.
Ellison’s application is the same document released so far by other attorneys general who also submitted applications to the same donor for their own special-interest SAAGs: Connecticut, District of Columbia, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.
Current lead Bloomberg recruiter, Massachusetts AG Maura Healey, also recently released her plea for Bloomberg-funded Special Prosecutors for climate/energy, though it took EPA filing suit to dislodge the document. This release was one of several stunning reversals by Healey’s Office, about which travails CLW expects to learn more in the near future.
Notably, Maryland AG Brian Frosh has forced the public to file suit to obtain his application without extraordinary redactions, and is holding to his guns that his promises made to Bloomberg’s group must be kept from the public, even asking the court to only review them under seal.
Bloomberg picked Frosh out of a crowded Democratic primary in 2013 and has had a very good friend since. Frosh was even Bloomberg’s initial chief recruiter for OAGs to take on privately hired attorneys as “Special Assistant Attorneys General” (SAAGs) for climate.
Frosh is the only AG to have not one but three Bloomberg-funded “Special Prosecutors”.
The question remains what promises Frosh made to Bloomberg’s group that he is hiding, that no other AG dared to claim must be shielded from public view.
Reference: MN OAG NYU Application (PDF)