Virginia AG: “No records” showing it actually considered legality, ethics of Bloomberg-financed Climate Prosecutor - Climate Litigation Watch

Virginia AG: “No records” showing it actually considered legality, ethics of Bloomberg-financed Climate Prosecutor

The Virginia Office of Attorney General 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, that this posed no gift prohibitions, and that OAG faced no Virginia-specific impediments to such an arrangement.

However, VA OAG, in its September 15, 2017 “application of the Office of Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Virginia to hire a New York University School of Law fellow as a Special Assistant Attorney General through the State Energy & Environment Impact Center”, wrote, inter alia:

“The Virginia OAG has historically employed, and currently employs [sic], fellows funded by law schools. Although the arrangement with the State Impact Program and NYU would be somewhat different, there are no Virginia-specific limitations or requirements that would apply to the OAG’s employment of a NYU fellow as a Special Assistant Attorney General. We have also reviewed the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct and find no concern about the proposed arrangement, which we understand requires that the attorney’s duty of loyalty shall be to the Attorney General and the Commonwealth and its agencies.” (emphases added)

There are two obvious problems with this, the most intellectually obtuse being the stance that the best analogy for the arrangement is to law students volunteering in an AG’s office.

Yes, schools supply law students, who are a) students, and b) pay five figures a year for the privilege of interning to gain experience and course credit, c) both toward those students some day becoming licensed attorneys.  The NYU Center scheme supplies licensed attorneys, at least one with over 20 years’ experience, paid six figures rather than paying, all placed in positions that specifically and by statute carry all of the powers of the Attorney General. Apples-to-stethoscopes

Further, however, OAG’s asserted conclusions seem be mere assertions (this is particularly true of the claim that it knows of no VA-specific limitations). 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 now closely to home VA statutes against bribery and certain other prohibited conduct hit. The responsible step would have been an assessment of how these obviously relevant provisions 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 all the authority it needs, and no impediments, to bringing on a special prosecutor for climate, funded by an activist donor.

Narrowest VA OAG NYU docs copy

VA OAG no records response ethics legal determinations

CEI VA AG SAAG legal ethics determinations and executed agreements request