In May 2016, Politico reported:
MORE GREEN OUTREACH AHEAD OF EXXON PRESSER: Shortly before joining a coalition of Democratic attorneys general to criticize ExxonMobil’s stance on climate research, Maryland AG Brian Frosh took a meeting with one of his constituents — Friends of the Earth President Erich Pica. In November 2015, Pica offered to brief Frosh on “the potential consumer related complaints and other authorities re: ExxonMobil,” according to an email to a Frosh aide that POLITICO uncovered through a public records request…
The emails underscore environmentalists’ aggressive campaign to shine a spotlight on the Exxon debacle. Exxon’s allies — who uncovered separate emails that show an anti-Exxon private lawyer and an official at the Union of Concerned Scientists briefed Democratic AGs on the issue — have said environmental groups are improperly influencing the AG investigations, allegations that greens strongly reject.
(NB: the link Politico offers is dead, though CLW and its readers are intimately familiar with the contents).
CLW had not seen the records Politico obtained and reported on, which Politico apparently did not publish. The transparency group Energy Policy Advocates (EPA) noticed this story in not one but two timelines — as well as the curious absence of records prompting and cited to in the story, wondered what this might mean. And whether those documents might add a different gloss to the meeting.
Turns out, they do.
The documents show that the emails obtained by Politico made clear this meeting with an AG could be better described than “with a constituent”; the green group advocate in fact cited “the attorney’s’” [sic] when scheduling the pow wow:
CLW is grateful to EPA for clarifying matters. EPA, continuing to fill the curiosity void about this use of law enforcement and the collaboration between activists, the tort bar and attorneys general, has also just obtained other emails relevant to the pitch. These reveal that the meeting — the first of which took place in February 2016 — was actually yet another session for plaintiffs’ tort lawyer Matt Pawa.
In this case, his associate Benjamin Krass gave the pitch to a “sympathetic AG” to pursue Pawa’s “climate nuisance” target, ExxonMobil.
As CLW readers are very aware, Frosh has done just that (beginning, apparently, with a followup meeting in March and a call to follow up on the pitch later that same month). Including to the point of apparent illegality.
What CLW readers may not yet know is that environmentalist groups lining up briefings for elected officials, which briefings are really events for plaintiffs’ lawyers, is in fact a climate litigation industry model. More on which soon.