Billionaire Michael Bloomberg has bankrolled campaigns against large soft drinks and coal and natural gas companies. Not so well known is his covert funding via New York University Law School’s State Energy and Environmental Impact Center, which provides grants to Democrat state attorneys general, so that they can hire “special assistant” AGs to litigate “specific administrative, judicial or legislative matters involving clean energy, climate change and environmental interests of regional and national significance.”
The American Tort Reform Foundation says these special AGs are private attorneys “placed in public positions to exercise government authority. Yet, they are not independent or impartial because their mandate is to carry out an overtly political agenda funded by wealthy private donors. This unique setup allows well-heeled individuals and organizations to commandeer state and local police powers to target opponents with whom they disagree.” At the very least, it raises important questions about “corruption and fundamental unfairness in what should be public enforcement of the law.” It also raises ethical, legal and constitutional questions regarding gifts, campaign contributions, bribes and private cooption of public offices. When Bloomberg-funded lawyers prosecute civil or criminal cases against companies or their officers, it raises serious due-process concerns.
By: Paul Driessen
When you’ve built a financial information and media empire and become the world’s seventh richest person, you get to say dumb things, like suggesting that farming is easy: “You dig a hole, put a seed in, put dirt on top, add water – and up comes the corn.”
Being ultra-wealthy also shields Michael Bloomberg from any fallout from the climate and energy policies he pursues so zealously. He will doubtless be able to afford electricity at any price for his multiple mansions, from any source, backed up by thousands of battery modules to cover the repeated blackouts his policies will unleash. The other 99.9% won’t be so fortunate.
Mr. Bloomberg bankrolls campaigns against coal and natural gas; supports efforts to populate the Biden Administration with rogue regulators equally intent on “transforming” America’s energy system, society and living standards; and champions ESG principles for financial firms, companies and investors. His company even has Sustainability and ESG & Climate divisions. Mr. Bloomberg serves as UN Special Envoy on Climate Ambition and Solutions, enabling him to advance his agendas internationally.
ESG (Environmental Social Governance) helps unelected asset managers use their control over trillions of investment dollars to pressure companies, lenders and consumers to embrace far-left activist versions of public welfare and justice, even if it causes clients’ portfolio values to decline. ESG is a subversive way to bypass legislatures, voters and democratic processes, to impose unpopular political and ideological agendas, often in violation of fiduciary obligations.
ESG opposes fossil fuels, insisting they are causing climate cataclysms. Any company in that business, or offering to finance a drilling project, gets blackballed. But companies building or financing “clean, green” energy score in the ESG stratosphere – even though most such projects destroy vast swaths of wildlife habitats, involve slave and child labor, and leave widespread toxic pollution in their wake. ESG human rights, ecological and climate justice principles are duplicitous and hypocritical.
As New York City mayor, Mr. Bloomberg infamously advocated exorbitant taxes on large sugary drinks, claiming they lead to obesity and thus to diabetes, cancer, heart disease and premature death. He simply wanted to help poor people live longer, he asserted, by making Big Gulps less affordable.
It’s thus puzzling that he now wants to banish reliable, affordable gas heat and coal- and gas-generated electricity for heating and air conditioning – in favor of pricey, weather-dependent wind and solar power, backed up by outrageously expensive batteries. Those policies shorten lives.
Even if manmade or natural climate change causes average global temperatures to climb 2-3 degrees, modern technologies would keep us safely comfortable. But if laws, policies and ESG pressures make heating and AC inaccessible or unaffordable, indoor temperatures can soar 15-25 degrees in summertime and drop as precipitously in wintertime. People die – and cold is far deadlier than heat.
When people, especially the elderly, cannot heat their homes properly, they can perish from hypothermia or illnesses they would likely survive if they weren’t so cold. The Economist calculated that expensive energy may have killed 68,000 more Europeans than Covid did last winter.
LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program) will help the poorest families – until the subsidy money runs out – but not middle/working classes, and not small businesses.
Even worse, three billion people worldwide still do not have access to reliable, affordable electricity. Message to climate zealots like Mr. Bloomberg: Access to intermittent, unpredictable wind/solar electricity doesn’t count, especially if it’s only enough to charge a cell phone or power a lightbulb or one-cubic-foot refrigerator. Lack of access to sustained, affordable energy kills.
The billionaire’s legal power grab is even more insidious and dangerous to democracy.
In 2017 he began covertly funding New York University Law School’s State Energy and Environmental Impact Center, which provides grants to progressive (Democrat) state attorneys general, enabling them to hire “special assistant” AGs or “fellows.”
The Center’s mission is to provide “direct legal assistance” to interested AGs “on specific administrative, judicial or legislative matters involving clean energy, climate change and environmental interests of regional and national significance,” when AGs say they lack sufficient public funds to hire such help.
NYU now says “the fellows’ sole duty of loyalty is to the attorney general in whose office they serve.” However, these partisan Bloomberg grants pay salaries and “generous benefits packages” to “special assistants” whose functions are dictated by the Center; address specified “regional and national” issues normally beyond the purview of state AGs; are routinely coordinated with energy and climate activists and donors to those causes; and often launch “public nuisance” or RICO litigation against oil companies, to the detriment of targeted industries and the consumers and ratepayers who depend on their products, within the AGs’ home states and in distant states and communities.
It is the Bloomberg agenda that is being served, by grants that effectively conscript and coopt the public authority and power of the attorney general’s offices.
As a 2022 report by the American Tort Reform Foundation notes, “These SAAGs are private attorneys placed in public positions to exercise government authority. Yet, they are not independent or impartial because their mandate is to carry out an overtly political agenda funded by wealthy private donors.”
This “unique” arrangement, the Foundation continues, “allows well-heeled individuals and organizations to commandeer state and local police powers to target opponents with whom they disagree, raising the specter of corruption and fundamental unfairness in what should be public enforcement of the law.”
Those same considerations also appear to raise fundamental ethical, legal and constitutional issues. They certainly raise questions about laws governing gifts, campaign contributions and bribes – and where Bloomberg-funded lawyers are involved in prosecutions, serious due-process concerns.
And yet the NYU Center has already placed at least 11 special assistants in eight state attorney general offices, which have filed at least 20 lawsuits against a few selected oil companies, charging them with “climate denial” or causing planetary warming, rising seas, more frequent and intense hurricanes and tornadoes, and other “offenses.”
This litigation ignores the actions of hundreds of other oil and gas companies across the globe; steadily rising emissions from China, India and other rapidly developing nations; the role of natural forces and emissions from wind turbine, solar panel and battery mining, processing and manufacturing; the lack of evidenceto support claims of a climate “crisis” or more frequent and violent storms; and the fact that these issues should be litigated in federal courts or relegated to a democratic political process.
The US Supreme Court recently had an opportunity to quash this rampant litigation, but it chose not to review the state and local cases and send them to federalcourts. The seemingly endless lawsuits and acrimony are creating a legal, constitutional, scientific and public policy nightmare for businesses, consumers, courts, states and the nation.
Rest assured, billionaires like Bloomberg, Gates, Kerry, Zuckerberg and Soros – who demand that we commoners give up our cars, gas stoves and furnaces, steaks, air travel and suburban homes – don’t intend to give up anything.
Let’s hope the pro-America governors, AGs, legislators, judges and business groups battling ESG and other woke campaigns tackle this NYU Impact Center hornets nest as well..
Paul Driessen is a senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of books and articles on energy, environmental, and human rights issues.