NY Attorney General Accused of Skirting Public Records Law

The Washington Free Beacon reports on CEI's lawsuit against Attorney General Eric Schneiderman from refusing to release documents related to the climate change investigations. 

A free market nonprofit group filed a lawsuit against New York’s chief law enforcement officer on Wednesday accusing him of withholding documents from the public in violation of the state’s open records laws.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute accused New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman of improperly blocking the release of an agreement with other state attorneys general to share information and resources in their ongoing legal campaign against oil company ExxonMobil.

CEI was named in a subpoena against Exxon served by Schneiderman’s office last year. It was also the target of a since-withdrawn subpoena from the attorney general of the U.S. Virgin Islands, one of nearly 20 state AGs collaborating with Schneiderman in his legal campaign against the oil company.

In pushing back on that campaign, CEI sought copies of a “common interest agreement” between Schneiderman and other AGs working on the effort.

The New York AG’s office denied its open records request, claiming it imperiled ongoing enforcement proceedings and would compromise the integrity of its legal strategy by exposing confidential attorney-client communications.

“None of the reasons Schneiderman claimed for withholding these documents are legitimate under New York law,” said Sam Kazman, the group’s general counsel, in a statement announcing the new lawsuit.

“The public deserves to know what this AG, and the other AGs cooperating with him, agreed to when it came to targeting their political opponents, and that’s why we sought the Common Interest Agreement in the first place,” Kazman said.

Chris Horner, a senior legal fellow at CEI and an attorney with the Energy & Environment (E&E) Legal Institute, has pursued the common interest agreement for months. He said Schneiderman and his allies are “trying to write themselves out from freedom of information laws their legislatures have written them into.”

CEI claims that attorney-client privilege does not protect the common interest agreement because the document was “shared by the Attorney General with non-New York state agencies or employees.”

Read the full article at The Washington Free Beacon