Embedded AG fellows raise concerns
Bloomberg nonprofit pays salaries of lawyers working for Dem AGs
Coverage from CommonWealth Magazine by Sarah Betancourt – excerpts:
A NONPROFIT BACKED with money from Michael Bloomberg is paying the salaries of 14 lawyers who are working on environmental and climate change issues for Democratic attorneys general around the country, including Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.
The State Energy & Environmental Impact Center at the NYU School of Law, created in 2017 with $6 million in funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies, has raised concerns in a handful of states about a private organization funding the pay of employees at a public law enforcement agency.
‘“It looked inappropriate to me, that someone could go to the AG and say, ‘Hey I want to fund two positions to bring lawsuits in an area I’m interested in,”’ said Cameron Macdonald, executive director of the Government Justice Center in New York, a conservative taxpayer watchdog group.
Macdonald filed a complaint with the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, an oversight and compliance agency in New York, but heard nothing back. “This is like a workaround, allowing for AGs offices to bypass their legislatures to get funding for pet projects,” he said.
In Massachusetts, Healey’s office is being sued by the nonprofit Energy Policy Advocates in Suffolk Superior Court over unreleased documents pertaining to the fellowships. The group is claiming the state’s public records law covers documents exchanged between Healey’s office and the State Impact Center. The group appears to be seeking the documents in connection with its interest in lawsuits involving Healey and ExxonMobil over climate change.Meet the Author
Healey’s office says the fellows who work in her office are paid $72,450 and $94,500 by the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center. (They don’t show up on state payroll records.)
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