Court Orders NY Attorney General to Turn Over Secret Government Documents

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The New York Supreme Court has recently commanded Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, to give up documents containing a secret agreement. These pages provide evidence between various states and environmental activist groups, attacking Exxon and other climate paranoia skeptics.

Schneiderman fought this document release, since it wasn’t under the state’s Freedom of Information Act. The Competitive Enterprise Institute filed suit, and has now ordered the release.

Supreme Court Building | NY Attorney General Photo Credit WikiMedia Commons
Supreme Court Building | NY Attorney General Photo Credit WikiMedia Commons

Documents Exempt from Disclosure in Supreme Court

According to The Washington Times, “The Democratic prosecutor, who launched last year a probe into ExxonMobil, has fought the request for any pact made with other states or certain environmental activists, arguing that such documents are exempt from disclosure.”

Sam Kazman, who is the general counsel for the free market institute, has called the decision “…a blow to the anti-speech campaign led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.”

In addition, “While the campaign by him and his co-horts that began in March, continues against those who disagree with him on global warming, we are glad to see that it is being held subject to the basic laws of the land.”

Kazman also commented, “By requiring Schneiderman to fully comply with our freedom of information request, the court is ensuring that agencies cannot use shortcuts as a means of skirting New York’s Freedom of Information law.” This is obviously important for a number of reasons.

NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman | Photo Credit WikiMedia Commons
NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman | Photo Credit WikiMedia Commons

Request Denied by Schneiderman’s Staff

Last June, a member on Schneiderman’s staff originally denied this request, on the grounds that it was associated with an active investigation. Essentially, adding the copy of the agreement to the Energy and Environment Legal Institute meant the issue wasn’t important, according to these staff members.

In November, Justice Zwack replied that the rejection of the institute’s request “…was nothing more than a parroting of statutory language, and thus a complete failure in its obligation “to fully explain in writing … the reason for the denial of access.”

After confirmation that there was actually more than one document involved, which wasn’t what Schneiderman’s staff had originally confirmed, the office was required to pay for attorney fees and other court costs.

While Exxon can defend itself against unfair government regulations and scare tactics, it’s the small individuals who have trouble defending themselves adequately — they are the ones in harm’s way. When powerful people spin paranoia, we all pay the price. 

What do you think about the Supreme Court withholding documents from the public that prove governmental attacks?

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