Punch Back Twice as Hard

Our pals at the Energy and Environment Legal Institute issued the following press release today, which I post here in full:

For Immediate Release:
February 26, 2015

Contact:
Craig Richardson
[email protected]
703-981-5553

Following Rep. Grijalva Inspiration, E&E Legal Files FOIA Request with the University of Delaware Seeking Records Relating to the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy

Washington, D.C. — Today, the Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal), in conjunction with the Free Market Environmental Law Clinic (FMELC) and the Caesar Rodney Institute (CRI), filed a Delaware Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA) with the University of Delaware related to Dr. John Byrne, Director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy and Distinguished Professor of Energy and Climate Policy.

Specifically, the FOIA request seeks documents describing the University of Delaware’s policy or policies relating to disclosure applying to Dr. Byrne; records in the University’s possession relating to outside funding, grants, or other contributions made to support Dr. John Byrne’s work at or relating to the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy; records involving Dr. Byrne’s outside funding, including consulting fees, promotional considerations, speaking fees, honoraria, travel expenses, salary and other compensation or monies given to Dr. Byrne which did not originate with the University itself; financial disclosure forms in which Dr. Byrne lists the University of Delaware or the State of Delaware as his affiliation; and records reflecting Dr. Byrne’s total annual compensation for each year at the University of Delaware.

Those who have followed recent news reports may notice that this FOIA request was inspired by and even replicated the request that U.S. Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) made to seven universities, including Delaware. In his letters, Congressman Grijalva notes that the “disclosure of a few key pieces of information will establish the impartiality of climate research and policy recommendations published in your institute’s name…[C]onflicts should be clear to stakeholders, including policymakers who use scientific information to make decisions.” Although the University responding to Rep. Grijalva is discretionary, processing FOIA requests from Delaware citizens is not.

“We certainly appreciate Congressman Grijalva’s rhetoric about the importance of disclosure and transparency,” said Chris Horner, E&E Legal Senior Legal Fellow and the attorney who filed the FOIA request on behalf of the three organizations. “His insistence that the Constitution compels him to demand these records — citing to no authority for why the universities should provide them — so moved us that we followed in his footsteps, if in our case by proceeding under Delaware law.”

It is possible that Representative Grijalva assumes that congressional letterhead carries authority to insist such demands be satisfied. Regardless, E&E Legal, FME Law and CRI appreciate the Congressman’s enthusiasm that the University dedicate itself to producing such records.

The groups far more narrowly tailor the period of time covered by their request, otherwise modeled after Rep. Grijalva’s nearly verbatim (also changing of course the party whose records are involved, which we are confident is not material to whether records should be released). The requesters look forward to the University of Delaware taking to heart Rep. Grijalva’s embrace of transparency, and satisfying this request made pursuant to Delaware’s statute which implements the legislature’s determination that, for institutions including the University, “it is vital that citizens have easy access to public records in order that the society remain free and democratic”. FOIA § 10001.

“We have followed Rep. Grijalva’s footsteps for our request, if under actual statutory making our request, unlike the Congressman’s, not discretionary. UDel has provided records in the past to Greenpeace, and we are confident that the State of Delaware will comply with this request,” concludes Horner.

Heh.  By the way, learning some fun things about Rep. Grijalva, and his lead “investigator” for this witch hunt, Vic Edgerton, who turns out to be a former Green Party candidate for local office in Connecticut, because, he said at the time, he needed to shine a light on issues Democrats ignore.  Edgerton also previously worked for Keith Ellison, and Dennis Kucinich.  He clearly knows how to pick leading statesmen.

Stay tuned.  More to come.

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