CEI Sues University of California for Information on UCLA Law School Involvement with Climate Litigation Industry

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The free-market public policy group Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) today sued the Board of Regents of the University of California under California’s Public Records Act (CPRA). The lawsuit, filed in the Superior Court for the County of Los Angeles, aims to:

  • Compel the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) Law School to perform a search in response to two languishing CPRA requests dating back to February of this year, and
  • Produce any records responsive to those requests.

Emails and other public documents reveal an April 2016 “secret meeting” in Cambridge, Massachusetts hosted by Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) for “prospective funders.” Its secrecy appears to be affirmed by another document, obtained from California’s Attorney General. This followed a March 29, 2016, Manhattan press conference by 20 state attorneys general (AGs) and climate activist Al Gore, vowing to use the law enforcement offices to impose the stalled climate agenda.

The April “secret meeting” agenda shows this fundraiser was also a strategy session, featuring senior lawyers from some of those same state AG offices — some traveled in their official capacities but at UCS expense — to coordinate potential legal actions against energy companies developing fossil fuels. Presenters included a plaintiffs’ lawyer and a UCS activist who briefed the attorneys general and Mr. Gore immediately before the March press conference.

“As CEI’s petition notes, this ‘secret meeting’ agenda shows UCLA faculty briefed the attorneys general and prospective donors on potential legal actions they could pursue,” said CEI senior fellow Chris Horner, who submitted the requests for CEI. “Attorneys general are now pursuing the types of investigations urged by UCLA faculty. CEI was the target of one AG’s abusive subpoena in this campaign, subsequently withdrawn when CEI fought back. Today, CEI seeks records relating to UCLA Law faculty participation in this legal strategy session.”

The petition describes how UCLA has stalled each of CEI’s requests, including serial assertions they will produce the records at some future date, with each such date merely bringing a new promise of production later in the year. “What UCLA has never offered is any sign it is actually processing these requests for public records that, the available record suggests, are highly informative about the University’s role in the climate litigation industry,” Horner added.

In a recent report, Horner and CEI detailed the growing involvement by law schools in an extensive campaign using state AG offices, in coordination with major contributors and activist pressure groups, to enforce a policy agenda that the American people already rejected through the democratic process. View the report, “Law Enforcement for Rent” and extensive appendix of source documents posted on CEI.org and ClimateLitigationWatch.org

“This donor-funded scheme of using law enforcement to pursue a failed political agenda, raises significant constitutional and other legal issues, as well as ethics concerns. With the revelation that this involves the use of public institutions in this mercenary campaign, the public has a right to know what their employees are doing in their name, and on their dime,” said Horner.