Presidential candidate and billionaire Michael Bloomberg has been funding climate lawyers inside liberal state attorney general offices to push his climate agenda.
Fox News reported that a program funded by Bloomberg pays the salaries of these attorneys to “pursue climate-based litigation.”
“The arrangement, which currently pays the salaries of Special Assistant Attorneys General (SAAGs) in 10 Democratic AG offices, is drawing new scrutiny now that Bloomberg is running for president. The New York University School of Law’s State Energy & Environmental Impact Center, which was started in 2017 with $5.6 million from Bloomberg’s nonprofit, hires mid-career lawyers as ‘research fellows’ before providing them to state AGs where they assist in pursuing ‘progressive’ policy goals through the courts,” Fox reported.
A number of Republican attorneys general have raised concerns about Bloomberg’s funding of government lawyers, especially since he began his 2020 presidential campaign.
“This is a fundamental question of ethics and who’s running our government,” West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey told Fox. “When you actually get to place someone in under a specific agenda and then pay them and they’re within the office, that starts to call into question whether there are multiple masters within an attorney general office and that starts to really stink.”
Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill told the outlet: “What’s problematic is the arrangement through which a private organization or individual can promote an overtly political agenda by paying the salaries of government employees.”
Fox reported that a website for the program claims to have climate lawyers placed in AG offices in Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, and Washington, D.C.
“The NYU center was first announced in an August 2017 press release, noting that it was boosted with funding from “Bloomberg Philanthropies,” the informal name for Bloomberg Family Foundation Inc. According to the foundation’s 2017 IRS 990 form, the $5.6 million came in the form of one $2.8 million payment in 2017 and another to follow in 2018. The Bloomberg Family Foundation’s 990 forms are not available for 2018 or 2019, so it is unclear whether Bloomberg continued to fund the State Impact Center last year or if he has yet in 2020,” Fox reported.
David Hayes, who worked in the Clinton and Obama administrations, sent an email in 2017 to state attorneys general about the program, writing “The opportunity to potentially hire an NYU Fellow is open to all state attorneys general who demonstrate a need and commitment to defending environmental values and advancing progressive clean energy, climate change, and environmental legal positions.”
“State attorneys general should describe the particular scope of needs within their offices related to the advancement and defense of progressive clean energy, climate change, and environmental matters,” the email continued.
The email and other documents were provided to Fox by conservative nonprofit Energy Policy Advocates.
Fox reported that publicly and privately, those working for the State Impact Center, which claims to be “nonpartisan,” are openly hostile toward President Donald Trump and his administration. The “website celebrates the fact state AGs have taken at least 300 legal actions against President Trump’s administration since his inauguration,” Fox reported.