Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is now the latest state prosecutor to start investigating conservative groups with supposed ties to Exxon Mobil Corp., after she issued a subpoena for 40 years of internal company documents and communications with a handful of think tanks.
Healey’s office subpoenaed Exxon as part of a multistate effort among liberal attorneys general to investigate Exxon for allegedly trying to cover up global warming science. Healey charges that the oil giant lied to shareholders and consumers about the risks of global warming in its communications and shareholder filings, according to a copy of the subpoena obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Healey demands decades worth of records from prominent conservative think tanks, including The Heritage Foundation and activist group Americans for Prosperity, and also from smaller, lesser known state-based right-leaning groups, such as Boston’s Beacon Hill Institute and the Acton Institute.
But there’s a huge problem with Healey’s subpoena that shows just how broad this investigation has become: At least two of the groups the subpoena demands records from have not received any money from Exxon.
Beacon Hill and Americans for Prosperity have not gotten any Exxon funding, but are still being targeted
Healey isn’t the first attorney general to target conservative groups that disagree with most Democratic politicians on global warming policy. Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Walker subpoenaed Exxon for records regarding dozens of conservative think tanks, policy experts, and scientists in March.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman launched an investigation into Exxon’s global warming stance in November, based on reporting by liberal journalists at InsideClimate News and Columbia University that Exxon had been covering up climate science for decades while funding right-wing activist groups.
Schneiderman hosted a conference in March with other attorneys general, including Healey and Walker, where it was announced that more prosecutors would probe Exxon and fight back against Republican attacks on federal environmental regulations.
Former Vice President Al Gore attended the event, as did a group of environmental activists—though Schneiderman’s office tried to cover up eco-activists’ involvement. At the event, Schneiderman even suggested global warming skeptics should be put in jail.
“Financial damages alone may be insufficient,” Schneiderman said. “The First Amendment does not give you the right to commit fraud.”
But Exxon hasn’t taken these subpoenas lying down. The oil company has filed a complaint against Walker in Texas court, and two Republican attorneys general have even intervened in the case to squash Walker’s demands.
Exxon has also filed a complaint against Healey, alleging her investigation is nothing more than a predetermined political stunt.
Exxon’s complaint even notes how Healey basically announced the results of her investigation before she even sent her subpoena to the company.
“We can all see today the troubling disconnect between what Exxon knew, what industry folks knew, and what the company and industry chose to share with investors and with the American public,” Healey charged at the March event hosted by Schneiderman.
“Remarkably, she also announced, in advance, the findings of her investigation weeks before she even issued the [civil investigative demand],” Exxon’s lawyers wrote in their complaint, a copy of which was obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.