Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, is not just spending unprecedented sums of money to buy the presidency of the United States for himself. He’s been buying state Attorneys General to advance his radical climate change political agenda.
Mr. Bloomberg is a climate change fanatic, as CFACT profiled him last December (here). Long before he declared for the Presidency, he has been spending his money to fund climate causes, including putting the U.S. coal industry out of business and its workers out of jobs.
Already he has spent more than $400 million on his Presidential campaign in only four months. He could easily spend north of $2.5 billion of his own money, which would be less than five percent of his $53 billion fortune. For most of us, five percent of our net worth couldn’t buy a used car.
This latest Bloomberg climate hobbyhorse of buying off state Attorneys General is not about bribing any of them, as such would be illegal. Even better – he’s indirectly paying the salaries of several of their in-house lawyers through a non-profit entity. That is at least a circuitous in-kind contribution to the office of a politician; at worst, it is an end-run around the democratic process and constitutional checks and balances. It is stealthy.
Mr. Bloomberg is doing this through his funding of at least $5.6 million to the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center at New York University School of Law, which uses the money to pay for private sector lawyers to assist state attorneys general to file climate change lawsuits. Using his massive fortune to donate to organizations to advance himself and his agenda is standard operating procedure for Bloomberg, and which goes beyond his Presidential campaign spending.
Lawyers funded by the Bloomberg-financed Impact Center are staffing the attorneys’ general offices in nine states and the District of Columbia. This funding approach serves to expand the budgets of these offices without legislative appropriations, which is an end-run around public taxpayer-funded limits.
Attorneys general are elected statewide in 45 states, and are appointed officials in the five remaining. Their primary role is they serve as the chief legal officer of their respective states, that is, they defend the state against lawsuits, issue legal opinions on state policies and agency actions, and bring lawsuits on behalf of the state.
Because the state Attorney General (AG) position is a separately elected official in most states, they have a degree of autonomy, which is useful when it comes to initiating litigation. A Governor or state legislature could disagree with an AG’s lawsuit but it is almost irrelevant since the AG is independent of them. It matters less if the staff were funded from outside (Bloomberg) sources, rather dependent on the state budget process.
Regarding climate change, large oil companies are the primary litigation targets since their legal business, producing oil and gas, is responsible for carbon emissions that are supposedly warming the planet. In 2018, for example, New York State’s Attorney General, with the help of Bloomberg-funded assistant attorneys, sued the Exxon-Mobil Corporation for allegedly misleading its own investors about the cost of climate change regulation. A New York court dismissed the case on the grounds that the lawsuit was “ill-conceived” and the AG failed to produce evidence.
Bringing lawsuits to impose climate change policies is widespread and sure to expand as this Bloomberg tactic continues. The most brazen example was litigation commenced not by an Attorney General but from the Our Children’s Trust organization when it sued the federal government. The federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, though sympathetic, eventually dismissed the case last month.
Losing a court case will not deter climate alarmists, AGs or otherwise, from bringing litigation against governments and the private sector. This, regardless of actual science or the cause and effect of changes in temperature over time. There is plenty of money from wealthy types like Mr. Bloomberg and now Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, who just committed $10 billion to fight climate change.
Funding political causes and influencing politicians behind the scenes is nothing new in history. John D. Rockefeller and other 19th century “robber barons” knew the game well, but eventually their ruthless, monopolistic business practices were stopped.
Michael Bloomberg for now is the leading 21st century robber baron for using his enormous wealth to force harmful and costly societal transformation over the highly disputed issue of climate change. He’s doing so by trying to purchase the Presidency and through more obscure, but effective methods like using state attorneys general.