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BY: Todd Shepherd
The Virginia General Assembly approved an amendment to the upcoming budget essentially thwarting an effort by former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg that funded the salary of an environmental lawyer placed in the state's attorney general's office.
Documents - Effort - New - York - City
According to one of the documents detailing the effort by the former New York City mayor, the attorney's primary purpose was to advance "progressive clean energy, climate change, and environmental legal positions."
The inner workings of Bloomberg's multi-state scheme came to light last August when Chris Horner, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington, published a lengthy exposé showing similar attorneys placed in other AG offices around the country were not paid with state funds, but by a specially created "State Impacts" center at the New York University School of Law funded by Bloomberg.
Horner - Bloomberg - Task - Force - Advantage
Horner argued Bloomberg was effectively creating his own "mercenary" legal task force that had the additional advantage of being backed by the power of the state.
Attorney general offices (OAGs) that are participating in the program have countered that they have full control and discretion over the work the Bloomberg attorneys are performing, and are claiming that fact made the program legal and free from any ethical conflicts.
Lawmakers - Virginia - OAG - Rationale
Lawmakers in Virginia appeared to disagree with the OAG rationale.
"The sole source of compensation paid to employees of the Office of the Attorney General for performing legal services on behalf of the Commonwealth shall be from the appropriations provided under this act," the amendment read.
Virginia - Attorney - General - Office - Request
The Virginia Attorney General's office did not respond to a request for comment.
"That this vote by the General Assembly was even necessary is itself incredible given that not one, but four provisions of the Virginia Code already prohibit this unprecedented arrangement—as we are arguing in ongoing litigation against [Attorney General Mark] Herring's office for documents...
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