2016 might go down as one of the most unusual years in the history of American politics. Voters chose historic change, but in all too many ways, it was business as usual.
Too many bureaucrats still put their own interests over the interests of the people they were supposed to be serving. Too many officials – elected and unelected – continued to act more like petty tyrants than servants of the people, imposing their own vision of how others should live their lives on citizens perfectly capable of making those decisions for themselves.
This week we’ll highlight the scariest examples by shining a light on those who seem to think your liberty is less important than their power.
Here’s No. 5.
Should fossil fuel company executives and think tank analysts be prosecuted for their opinions on global warming? Some attorneys general think so, and that’s scary for anyone who believes in free speech.
Early in the year, William Sorrell, Vermont’s outgoing attorney general, joined forces with counterparts from New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and a dozen other states to form AGs United for Clean Power. The group seeks to use the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act of 1970 to prosecute climate change skeptics for supposedly misleading the public about the dire consequences of global warming.
And while Sorrell and the AGs want to comb through other people’s private communications, they’re not too keen on letting loose of their own.
In May, two nonprofit legal centers requested that Sorrell turn over emails and public documents related to the inquisition. When Sorrell refused to comply, the groups sued to obtain the records.
Sorrell, a public official doing the public’s business, is stubbornly refusing to be transparent with the public — the records remain undelivered — even while demanding that private companies and nonprofits open up their files.
But there’s hope: Sorrell opted to retire as Vermont’s longest-serving attorney general and did not seek re-election in 2016. So we might be spared his reappearance on this list in 2017.