A conservative Charlottesville radio talk show host has sued House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Clerk of the United States House of Representatives, alleging they denied him public records related to climate change hearings.
The lawsuit was recently filed on behalf of Rob Schilling, a local right-wing radio host, in US District Court for the District of Columbia. In the lawsuit, Schilling seeks a variety of documents related to a hearing held by the House Oversight and Reform Committee titled “Fueling the Climate Crisis: Exposing Big Oil’s Disinformation Campaign to Prevent Climate Action “.
Pelosi, U.S. Clerk Cheryl L. Johnson and U.S. House Administrative Director Catherine Szpindor are named as defendants. All are prosecuted in their official capacity.
Citing information from news reports, Schilling argues that the “committee’s investigation into the fossil fuel industry’s climate disinformation campaign” is not doing Congress’ sense of duty.
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Instead, Schilling argues that the hearing and related efforts to subpoena figures from big oil companies — Big Oil — “effectively confess to scapegoating for members of Congress who failed to get popular support for legislative ambitions to fundamentally restructure society in the name of climate change.”
Over the past few years, Schilling has published various articles and opinion/editorials on his website that critique local and national efforts to address and educate about climate change.
“The public – including Mr. Schilling, in his role as an active citizen and journalist – has a great interest in seeing the record behind this weak rationalization to prosecute political opponents and the failure even theoretically to found an investigation” of one year “on private matters”. parties for a “valid legislative purpose,” the lawsuit reads.
In his lawsuit, Schilling argues that attempts to subpoena private entities are beyond the power of Congress and that the investigation was assisted by consultants “who appear to have been provided to the committee for this purpose by donors private”.
The recent and upcoming congressional hearings are the latest in a “series of public-private collaborations to deploy judicial or quasi-judicial functions of government against political opponents of the climate agenda,” Schilling’s lawsuit alleges. The lawsuit says the hearings are an effort to aid the criminal investigation(s) of “political opponents of the ‘climate’ political agenda.”
The consultants were hired without following the process set out in House rules, which includes a required proposal, approval of that proposal, and posting for public inspection of agreements reflecting the consultants’ provision of official duties, Schilling argues .
Although Schilling requested documents that would document the consultants’ approval, he claims that the defendants refused or otherwise failed to provide such a document.
Additionally, Schilling claims that the House Committee on Administration, which house rules are tasked with keeping records of those approvals and making them available to the public, told him on Jan. 20 that he had no such recordings.
“Schilling is seeking information that could reveal wrongdoing in the House of Representatives,” the lawsuit read. “As a citizen, Mr. Schilling is troubled by what he thinks these records will reveal about the private staffing of Congressional investigations, and as a journalist, he is obligated to make the full record known to the American people. .”
In November and December, Schilling asked the defendants for a variety of documents, including email communications between congressional staffers, Speaker Carolyn Maloney, Representative Rho Khanna and various other figures, as well as recordings of meetings. video.
“As of the date of this complaint, none of the defendants has produced the records requested from the plaintiff or even acknowledged his claims,” the lawsuit states.
Schilling’s lawsuit argues that the defendants are in breach of their obligations under the common law right of access to public records.
Additionally, the lawsuit claims the communications are public records because they were created or received by an agency of the legislature for the purpose of recording official actions, including the hiring of consultants.
The records should be available, depending on the lawsuit, under the common law right of access, under the United States Constitution, and under statutory provisions and House rules.
Schilling seeks a declaration that the defendants’ “refusal to disclose the requested public records” is a violation of the common law right of access to public records. In addition, Schilling seeks the issuance of mandamus or other mandatory injunction requiring the defendants to “perform their non-discretionary duty to make available all documents requested.”
“Plaintiff has no adequate remedy at law,” the lawsuit reads. “A mandamus or an appropriate binding injunction is the appropriate remedy because the defendants are in possession of records to which [Schilling] entitled as a citizen, journalist or both.
The defendants have not yet responded to the trial and no hearing is currently scheduled.