By: Mark Glennon*
UPDATE 2/22/20: This article was updated to reflect a recent report by WLDS/WEAI respecting Illinois participation in the program.
And see our call for this program to be terminated immediately linked here. What follows is a factual description only of a program we believe is exceptionally dangerous.
Billionaire presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg is paying salaries of lawyers who promote his agenda in attorney general offices in liberal leaning states.
Bloomberg money currently funds the salaries of Special Assistant Attorneys General (SAAGs) in 10 Democratic AG offices, according to Fox News. That list included Illinois, but according to a more recent report by WLDS/WEAI, “Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office responded to an inquiry about any lawyers connected to Environmental Impact Center saying that they have employed fellows to New York University’s School of Law in the past, but none were currently working in the department.”
“What’s problematic is the arrangement through which a private organization or individual can promote an overtly political agenda by paying the salaries of government employees,” said Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill. “They want to put their special-interest lawyers in place to drive a very radical agenda,” said West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.
Funding runs through the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center at New York University School of Law. That center, according to Fox, was started in 2017 with $5.6 million from Bloomberg’s nonprofit. It hires mid-career lawyers as “research fellows” before providing them to state AGs — where they assist in pursuing “progressive” environmental policy goals through the courts.
State Impact Center spokesman Tom Lalley, according to the Washington Times, responded by saying nonpartisan program “brings academic rigor and independence to its mission of supporting state attorneys general who are protecting existing environmental regulations, addressing climate change and respecting the law.”
But the Times quotes Chris Horner of the public interest law firm Government Accountability & Oversight saying this:
This scheme by an activist donor [Bloomberg] to place attorneys in AG offices to advance his priorities is on its face staggering. That the activist developed it while more broadly cultivating support among elected officials at all levels through his foundation, and apparently with a run for the White House also in mind, makes it simply unbelievable.
A separate opinion piece by the Times describes the arrangement as “buying up law enforcement.”
Another Washington Times article quotes Adam Piper, executive director of the Republican Attorneys General Association, who said “These folks are being funded as mercenaries, liberal mercenaries, not just on a climate issue but other issues near and dear to Mike Bloomberg’s radical liberalism. And they’re doing everything from filing suits to writing comment letters to testifying at Trump administration hearings.”
Other states where SAAGs are implanted include the Delaware, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York and Oregon, according to Fox News and other sources.
We have seen no comment yet from Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul.
*Mark Glennon is founder of Wirepoints.
Read more from Wirepoints about the crises in Illinois:
- IRS migration numbers confirm flight of Illinois’ wealthy – Our Monthly Crain’s Article
- Illinoisans overwhelmed by a ‘shadow mortgage’ of pension debts
- Chicago doubling down on dangerous ‘securitized bonds’ – Our Monthly Crain’s Article
- Illinoisans feel the pain of stagnant incomes and skyrocketing property tax bills
- Illinois enacting a progressive tax is like Sears attempting a turnaround by hiking prices
- New IRS data reveals winners and losers of wealth migration across 50 states
- Why an aging and shrinking Illinois is a threat to public sector pensions