A conservative legal group filed a lawsuit Tuesday to obtain the private email conversations of one of the attorney generals leading an investigation into ExxonMobil’s climate history.
E&E Legal petitioned the New York Supreme Court for New York AG Eric Schneiderman’s private Gmail account to determine how many lawmen are involved in the Exxon probe. The group specifically wants conversations Schneiderman had with former Vermont AG William Sorrell.
“Regardless of what e-mail accounts they used, if it relates to official business in their public capacities, it is open to our requests,” wrote in a press statement. “It’s time these two AG offices stop making open records requesters sue as their default position, a position openly acknowledged in emails E&E Legal has already obtained.”
The group has been filed nearly a dozen public record requests for Schneiderman and Sorrell communications. Neither AG has been willing to release the records – Sorrell has continually stonewalled any legal efforts to obtain the emails.
Judge Mary Teachout, who serves on the Vermont Superior Court, issued an order earlier this month denying Sorrell’s request to dismiss a court-ordered deposition. Sorrell failed to appear in court for testimony about the existence of private emails he reportedly used during the Exxon probe.
Schneiderman’s office has used private email accounts in the past to set up meetings with some of the environmental groups that have pushed for investigations against Exxon – Schneiderman believes the oil producer has spent decades lying to the public about its knowledge of climate change.
Legal discoveries show that an assistant attorney general at the New York Attorney General’s Office used a personal email account in 2012 to prepare for a meeting with various environmental organizations, according to documents The Daily Caller News Foundation obtained earlier this year.
It is not clear from the email if the meetings were meant to build a case against fossil fuel companies like Exxon, but there is evidence the campaign against the oil company began as early as 2012 at the La Jolla conference.
E&E Legal’s pursuit began in full after Schneiderman invited two prominent environmental activists to give presentations last March to a group of state prosecutors about “climate change litigation” and the “imperative of taking action now on climate change.”
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