Documents released today by the Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal) add to questions raised over the weekend with the release of correspondence showing New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s recruitment of eco-billionaire Tom Steyer to support his run for governor. These emails from the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) show that Steyer has enlisted that political trade association to recruit member governors expressly for Steyer’s “accountability on [sic] climate deniers” campaign.
As first reported by the New York Post this weekend, Steyer’s partner and lawyer wrote to another employee, ”Eric Schneiderman would like to have a call with Tom regarding support for his race for governor…regarding Exxon case.” Tying political fundraising to investigation or prosecution is breathtaking enough but, taken with the series of DGA recruiting emails obtained by E&E Legal under public records laws, the connections become much more scandalous. The Democratic Party and its elected officials are using their powers of office inappropriately.
“Using taxpayer dollars to pursue a politically driven investigations, particularly when intended to provide economic life to subsidy- and policy-dependent ‘investments’ and to silence dissent from political opponents was egregious enough,” said Craig Richardson, Executive Director of E&E Legal. “To see the direct connection between advocating desired, abusive campaigns while soliciting campaign contributions on the back of the scheme is an extraordinary abuse of the public’s trust and the power of office.”
Steyer has been publically lobbying state attorneys general who opted not to join Schneiderman’s political climate crusade against ExxonMobil which roped in other parties including free-market think tanks. On April 21, 2016, Steyer’s group NextGen Climate hosted and funded an ultimately unsuccessful rally to encourage New Hampshire Attorney General Joseph Foster to join Schneiderman’s “Climate Change Coalition”, a political coalition of ideologically aligned state AGs whose own organizing documents prove are seeking to impose a political agenda through law enforcement schemes. (FOIA’d records show Foster’s office signed on on April 29, 2016).
E&E Legal Documents Show Dem Political Groups Recruiting Members to Pursue “Accountability” on Behalf of Steyer/NextGen
This came on the heels of a campaign by the DGA expressly on behalf of Steyer and NextGen, to engage Democratic governors to also pursue the donor’s and his group’s “accountability” campaign.
Specifically, E&E Legal has now uncovered several copies of a recruting email from Democratic Governors Association (DGA) Policy Director Kwame Boadi to senior policy advisors to Democratic governors, including Washington’s Jay Inslee, Oregon’s Kate Brown, and New Hampshire’s Maggie Hassan. The solicitation notes that Steyer is “actively working to get governors to buy-in and sign on to” his energy agenda including a focus on “accountability on climate deniers”, asking Democratic governors to use their office in support of the effort. from Democratic Governors Association (DGA) Policy Director Kwame Boadi to senior policy advisors to Democratic governors, including Washington’s Jay Inslee, Oregon’s Kate Brown, and New Hampshire’s Maggie Hassan. The solicitation notes that Steyer is “actively working to get governors to buy-in and sign on to” his energy agenda including a focus on “accountability on climate deniers”, asking Democratic governors to use their office in support of the effort.
Combined with the email from Schneiderman’s office to Steyer’s office these records raise serious questions about the motivations behind Schneiderman’s investigation into Exxon and whether he is in the service of New York taxpayers or major donors. The email also further suggests the political nature of the AGs’ “climate” investigations, already plain by the absence of legal merit. It that same 501c4 political organization of Steyer’s, NextGen Climate Action, on whose behalf at least one of the Democrats’ political trade associations is recruits g its members to go after opponents of NextGen’s agenda.
E&E Legal Report Shows Steyer Bought Democratic Party
In July E&E Legal published a report, Buying the Democrat Party Lock, Stock and Barrel, which revealed billionaire Tom Steyer’s efforts to “protect his solar energy investments by spending tens of millions of dollars on key 2016 races, buying a plank in the 2016 Democrat platform, and trying to silence debate from those who challenge his view on ‘climate change’ by using select attorneys general to prosecute ‘dissenters.’”
The report revealed a document produced by NextGen Climate, an organization founded and funded by Steyer, called, “Fact Sheet: Powering America With More Than 50 Percent Clean Energy by 2030.” That document was later adopted almost verbatim into the 2016 Democratic National Convention (DNC) climate change platform, including a plank calling for “climate deniers” to be held “accountable.”
Steyer-Linked Group Advised Democrats to ‘Sow Doubts’
In a separate set of emails obtained by E&E Legal last year, then-DGA Policy Director Ian Walton emailed a listserv of staffers for Democratic governors regarding messaging for the (then) soon-to-be-released Clean Power Plan, stayed by the Supreme Court in February, legal challenges to which will be heard by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals later this month. The email includes a talking points memo based on research conducted by Hart Research, which also works with Steyer’s NextGen Climate Action.
The memo provides talking points for the governors and their staffs on how to sell the Clean Power Plan to their constituents, and lays out a strategy for Democratic state officials to paint fossil fuel companies as the enemy combatants in a “war.”
“The war on carbon pollution standards for power plants is engaged,” the memo ominously begins. The memo continues by encouraging the Democrats to obscure the truth and manufacture doubt: “Research indicates that many voters’ default belief is that electricity bills will go up. In order to overcome that reality, we must strongly and consistently sow doubts about our opponents [sic] motives…” (Emphasis added)
The memo goes on to advise that “the key to success is a visible adversary.” For their current project – selling the Clean Power Plan – “that adversary is power companies.” The memo suggests that “this line of messaging easily could be adapted to encompass the coal industry or any other dirty energy advocate.” (Emphasis added). It is easy to see how this messaging has been adapted to suit the purposes of the Democratic state attorneys general, who have selected ExxonMobil as their “visible adversary.”
Among the alarming messaging suggested in the memo is a line that states “[power companies] must be forced to do the right thing.”
The Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal) is a 501(c)(3) organization engaged in strategic litigation, policy research, and public education on important energy and environmental issues. Primarily through its petition litigation and transparency practice areas, E&E Legal seeks to correct onerous federal and state policies that hinder the economy, increase the cost of energy, eliminate jobs, and do little or nothing to improve the environment.