Billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg funds a program at New York University School of Law that places lawyers in Democratic state attorneys general offices to specifically prosecute Trump administration policies on energy and the environment.
The 14 current fellows in the State Energy & Environment Impact Center program are spread across nine states and the District of Columbia. Although they report to the state attorneys general, they are paid through Bloomberg’s funding of the NYU program, RealClearInvestigations reports.
Although it is common for government agency employees to be paid by outside funds, critics indicate that it is inappropriate for special interest money to be used for targeted government action.
"There's a systematic effort by the elite billionaires on the left to undermine America's energy industry,” Daniel Turner, executive director of Power the Future, told the Washington Examiner about the report. “Democrats regularly complain about collusion, but Bloomberg is literally using his fortune to buy off state AG offices to do his bidding.”
Amy Spitalnick, an adviser and spokeswoman for acting New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood, defended the program, telling RealClearInvestigations that the center "has no role in supervising the fellows.”
In 2001, Bloomberg switched from Democrat to Republican, but the multibillionaire had, up until now, been registered as an independent since 2007, around the time of the financial crisis. Bloomberg announced Tuesday that he re-registered as a Democrat.
“Today, I have re-registered as a Democrat – I had been a member for most of my life – because we need Democrats to provide the checks and balance our nation so badly needs,” Bloomberg said in an Instagram post Tuesday morning.
[Opinion: Michael Bloomberg has no chance of being the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee]
Under the terms of their agreement with the center, fellows work solely to advance progressive climate change policy.
The State Energy & Environment Impact Center was opened last August with a grant of almost $6 million from Bloomberg Philanthropies, which is controlled by the former mayor.
Bloomberg has donated millions to Democratic attorneys general campaigns for the midterm election cycle, and has spent almost $100 million on House Democratic races for the 2018 elections.