Despite Judge’s “Smackdown,” VT Office of the AG Denies E&E Legal’s Appeal for Records Related to the AG’s RICO ‘Climate Campaign’

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E&E Legal Now Forced to Sue Current and Former Vermont AGs

Washington, D.C. (August 7, 2017) – On July 27th, a Vermont judge ruled favorably on two separate public records suits filed by the Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal) against the Vermont Office of the Attorney General (OAG)  related to that Office’s role in organizing a “climate-RICO” cabal among activist attorneys general, and private activists, targeting political opponents.  Despite the Judge’s ruling, which the Caledonia Record described as a ‘smackdown,’ on Tuesday the Vermont OAG denied E&E Legal’s appeal of the Office’s refusal to process E&E Legal’s request for former AG William Sorrell’s GMail correspondence with New York AG, and Sorrell’s climate-RICO co-ringleader, Eric Schneiderman.    E&E Legal also sent a similar request to New York, since it is now known that both AGs used private e-mail accounts such as Gmail.  Both requests met similarly worded, similarly timed refusals. Vermont’s AG Office acknowledges it “consulted with the New York Attorney General’s Office”, “as a courtesy”.  “OAG is refusing to search for records on a non-official count we have already demonstrated to the courts the former AG used for work. Simultaneously, New York also refused to search an account we have established Eric Schneiderman used for this purpose,” said E&E Legal counsel Matthew Hardin.  “Both offices employed wording revealing a shared objective of trying not to deny the requests, while refusing to gain custody of records the public owns, which are being kept from the public and their proper governmental custodian, despite laws against this.” While Vermont’s OAG busied itself declaring “no records” on the state’s server and refusing to obtain former AG Sorrell’s work-related GMail, Sorrell sent a ‘cease and desist’ to E&E Legal’s local counsel, Brady Toensing, instructing Toensing to only contact Sorrell through his lawyer. That, according to Sorrell, is the current Vermont Attorney General.  “Vermont’s current attorney general is the lawyer protecting former AG Sorrell’s work-related Gmails from public disclosure, and apparently also from compelling Sorrell to turn over to the government and to the public the very records that he created in the use of a taxpayer-funded office,” added Hardin.  “This is not how a transparent government operates and the people of Vermont deserve better.” So, in addition to joining Sorrell in an already-existing suit as the  the Washington Superior Court ordered on July 27 was appropriate,  E&E Legal is now filing suit against both the Vermont OAG and the former AG Sorrell personally. While this turn of events is unfortunate, it is necessary given the simple facts that:

  • the former AG chose to take work ‘off-line’ to a non-official account, rather than complying with the law and ensuring all work-related business was conducted on the state email system
  • the former AG then refused to turn those records he created on Gmail over to the state or to records requesters, even though such records belong to the state and were created with taxpayer dollars, and
  • Mr. Sorrell and the current Attorney General still refuse to produce taxpayer-owned records to the public.

As of this week, Sorrell is now being sued personally in two Vermont cases for failing to comply with the law about preserving public records on the state email system. It is unfortunate that a former prosecutor, for two decades the chief law enforcement officer in the State of Vermont, has had such a hard time complying with Vermont law.

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