On Thursday, ”a federal judge in Texas has issued a discovery order against the Massachusetts attorney general in the hotly-contested investigation about whether the oil giant concealed information about climate change from investors and the public.”
The court based its opinion on information E&E Legal obtained in its state-level FOIAs sent immediately upon reading of the AGs’ collaboration against of opponents of the “climate” political agenda.
This has potential implications for any of the AGs which took affirmative steps down this misguided path.
The relevant part of the opinion, relying upon our findings, reads as follows:
Jurisdictional discovery needs to be conducted to consider whether the current proceeding filed by Exxon in Massachusetts Superior Court challenging the CID warrants Younger abstention by this Court. If Defendant Attorney General Healey issued the CID in bad faith, then her bad faith precludes Younger abstention. See Bishop v. State Bar of Texas, 736 F.2d 292, 294 (5th Cir. 1984). Attorney General Healey’s actions leading up to the issuance of the CID causes the Court concern and presents the Court with the question of whether Attorney General Healey issued the CID with bias or prejudgment about what the investigation of Exxon would discover.
Prior to the issuance of the CID, Attorney General Healey and several other attorneys general participated in the AGs United for Clean Power Press Conference on March 29, 2016 in New York, New York. Notably, the morning before the AGs United for Clean Power Press Conference, Attorney General Healey and other attorneys general allegedly attended a closed door meeting. At the meeting, Attorney General Healey and the other attorneys general listened to presentations from a global warming activist and an environmental attorney that has a well-known global warming litigation practice. Both presenters allegedly discussed the importance of taking action in the fight against climate change and engaging in global warming litigation.
One of the presenters, Matthew Pawa of Pawa Law Group, P.C., has allegedly previously sued Exxon for being a cause of global warming. After the closed door meeting, Pawa emailed the New York Attorney General’s office to ask how he should respond if asked by a Wall Street Journal reporter whether he attended the meeting with the attorneys general. The New York Attorney General’s office responded by instructing Pawa “to not confirm that [he] attended or otherwise discuss” the meeting he had with the attorneys general the morning before the press conference.
During the hour long AGs United for Clean Power Press Conference, the attorneys general discussed ways to solve issues with legislation pertaining to climate change. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman of New York and Attorney General Claude Walker of the United States Virgin Islands announced at the press conference that their offices were investigating Exxon for consumer and securities fraud relating to climate change as a way to solve the problem.
The Court finds the allegations about Attorney General Healey and the anticipatory nature of Attorney General Healey’s remarks about the outcome of the Exxon investigation to be concerning to this Court. The foregoing allegations about Attorney General Healey, if true, may constitute bad faith in issuing the CID which would preclude Younger abstention. Attorney General Healey’s comments and actions before she issued the CID require the Court to request further information so that it can make a more thoughtful determination about whether this lawsuit should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.
E&E Legal also recently obtained other portions of the ‘Pawa thread’ which Vermont’s Office of Attorney General illegally withheld, and indeed failed to even admit its existence.
What Vermont somehow forgot to release — its own expression of gratitude to Pawa for saying that not admitting to his role made sense — New York did manage to provide, despite insisting on withholding on to everything else but press clippings and web-based consumer concerns:
• “Outside advisor” PAWA (5.30.16 6:31 pm: Lem and Scot – a WSJ reporter wants to talk to me. I may not even talk to her at all but if I do I obviously will have no comment on anything discussed at the meeting. What should I say if she asks if I attended? No comment? Let me know.
• NY OAG’s SROLOVIC (5.31.16 9:31 pm): My ask is if you speak to the reporter, to not confirm that you attended or otherwise discuss the event.
• PAWA 5.31.16 6:34 am): That is what I thought and it makes good sense. Thanks.
• VT OAG’s KLINE (5.31.16 7:39 am): Thanks Matt. (Emphasis added.)
Vermont managed to release the non-bolded portion of the exchange in the production that led to this scheme blowing up on all participants; what Vermont OAG failed to locate and release was its long-time friend Pawa’s agreement with NY OAG’s request to mislead, and Vermont OAG’s own gratitude to Pawa.
E&E Legal filed documents Wednesday night also noting that claims of privilege being made by numerous of the scheming AGs to hide these records are wholly unfounded both because they have obviously been shared, in many cases, with outside activists, and also because of the transparently political (vs. legal) nature of the AGs’ crusade. This was in a case against the New York AG, updating prior pleadings.
Thursday’s ruling also potentially exposes the Massachusetts AG’s office for improperly withholding records as privileged in response to E&E Legal’s requests to that office of the same sort that produced the records behind Thursday’s decision.