Court documents show that the attorney general involved in a year-long probe targeting ExxonMobil’s climate records used a private email address to conduct official business.
Conservative legal group Energy and Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal) explained in court documents Friday that New York AG Eric Schneiderman submitted a privilege log of correspondence containing the email account. A judge recognized the account was used after a private review of the log.
“The record reveals that the respondents [the NY AG’s office] took great pains to hide the true facts of the Attorney General’s use of private email addresses in an effort to stave off a court-ordered supplemental search,” the document notes.
Schneiderman’s office claimed in May that a search for personal email addresses was unnecessary because of the AG office’s policy of prohibiting use of private emails for public. The New York Democrat’s office has had issues with private email accounts in the past.
Amy Spitalnick, a spokeswoman in the AG’s office, told The Daily Caller News Foundation that the case “has already been adjudicated. The premise is completely false.”
Legal discoveries show that Lem Srolovic, an assistant attorney general at Schneiderman’s office, used his personal email account in 2012 to prepare for a meeting with various environmental organizations. Srolovic’s email raised questions about how often the office uses personal emails for professional meetings, which would be a violation of New York law if done while gathering information for the AG’s Exxon probe.
Srolovic used his email account in November of 2012 to send presentations to colleagues in the AG’s office to prepare for a meeting with “environmental organizations.” It is not clear if the presentation was forged to build a case against 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 is now demanding access to the name on the private email account, according to the court documents.
“Given OAG’s vociferous denials that a search of the Attorney General’s private email address was necessary, and subsequent revelations that the Attorney General does indeed possess and use a private email address for the business of his office, the public is at a minimum entitled to know the domain name of the email address,” the document notes.
E&E Legal wants access to Schneiderman’s emails, because the group believes wealthy environmentalists were instrumental in browbeating the AG into pursuing Exxon. Documents revealed in early 2017 also show Schneiderman met with billionaire liberal activists.
Schneiderman met with Karla Sanchez, a deputy attorney general for “economic justice” in the NY AG office, as well as environmental activists associated with billionaire Tom Steyer in 2015, according to an email log obtained in 2016 through public information requests. The get-togethers coincided with the New York Democrat’s investigation into Exxon’s climate research.
He kick-started the crusade November 2016, “demanding extensive financial records, emails and other documents” from the oil company dating back decades. Several other attorneys general, including fellow Democratic Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, have leaped on board the inquisition since that time.
Schneiderman’s initial probes ushered in a slew of inquiries from other AGs, most of which were based on reports by aggressively partisan venues InsideClimate News and Columbia University, which claim Exxon has known the risks of global warming for decades but kept such knowledge under wraps. The bulk of his colleagues has since dropped their pursuits.
E&E Legal’s request comes three months after the AG’s office disclosed that current Secretary of State Rex Tillerson used the alias “Wayne Tracker” for years when he served as the Exxon’s CEO.