placed a bullseye squarely on the backs of conservative and libertarian-leaning groups over allegations of “racketeering” in the increasingly partisan global warming debate. Described as an all-encompassing effort, the subpoena was first issued in March and finally made public Tuesday in its unredacted form. Emails released also show how green activists conspired with government officials to squelch “contrary views”, suppress free speech, and demonize the fossil fuel industry.U.S. Virgin Islands’ attorney general Claude Walker has
The wording of the subpoena makes clear that Virgin Islands’ attorney general Claude Walker will be utilizing the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) act to silence global warming skeptics and crush political opponents. Aside from serving ExxonMobil with a subpoena, Walker has also served one up to the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI.)
The Walker subpoena is part of a much larger coalition of Democratic attorneys generals (AGs) targeting climate change skeptics using the RICO statute, a legal tool normally reserved for indicting members of organized crime. On March 29, New York’s AG Eric T. Schneiderman, standing alongside former Vice President Al Gore, announced that his new coalition would find “creative ways” to prosecute fossil fuel companies, individuals, and organizations who disagree with the catastrophic global warming narrative.
Gore remarked that this was an historic coalition to investigate “commercial interests that have been… deceiving the American people” about the reality of the “climate crisis and the dangers it poses to all of us.” As for Schneiderman, this is not the first time he has sought media attention over controversial issues. The NY attorney general has been hot with accusations of political bias from both the right- and left-wing punditry, wasting millions of taxpayer dollars to further his own political agenda.
The entire investigation rests on articles published last year by InsideClimate News, a climate activist organization funded by left-wing billionaires. The group alleges that Exxon knew rising carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions could cause catastrophic global warming, but suppressed the information. The smoking gun was a single email in 1981 from an Exxon in-house scientist regarding the possible effects of increased CO2 emissions. Both the LA Times and NY Times propped up the allegations with direct quotes from the InsideClimate article, with middling to no fact checking.
Climate accusations have enjoyed a strangely muddled history. In 1981, numerous news outlets were championing the great global cooling scare that never materialized as illustrated in the recent documentary Climate Hustle. In 1988, with a ceremonial kick-off by then-NASA employee James Hansen, the idea of a coming ice age morphed into the great global warming scare caused by the burning of fossil fuels. To its credit, Exxon has denied any wrongdoing and has supplied information to news outlets showing where InsideClimate News’ ostensible ‘investigation’ went off the rails.
The original redacted subpoena from Walker was first reported by the Wall Street Journal in April, and a newly released copy of the subpoena shows for the first time whom Walker is targeting. The subpoena asks for all communications that the oil company has undertaken with “88 conservative and libertarian think tanks, foundations, and universities, and 54 individual researchers, scientists, and writers.” Walker even subpoenaed the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a conservative think tank.
CEI’s General Counsel Sam Kazman responded on the its website, writing: “The attack on First Amendment rights by U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General Walker, Al Gore, and a coalition of attorneys general, is clearly political targeting aimed at stifling free speech and intimidating policy groups and private individuals who disagree with them.”
As indicated in the broadly sculpted subpoena—a lawsuit in search of a crime—AG Walker “effectively asks for all CEI communications on climate change and energy policy from 1997 through 2007, including private donor information.” CEI says it will vigorously fight the unabashed attempts of the politically motivated AG who is targeting “anyone who holds different opinions than these government officials, whether that is on climate change or any other issue.”
Andrew M. Grossman, the outside attorney handling the case for CEI, responded to the charges, by writing: “Your demand on CEI is offensive, it is un-American, it is unlawful, and it will not stand. You can either withdraw it or expect to fight.” Most analysts familiar with the issue say that Walker will encounter similar resistance from the other groups and individuals.
Hans von Spakovsky, a former Federal Election Commissioner and a senior legal fellow at Heritage, called the subpoena “a truly outrageous abuse of [the attorney general’s] authority and a misuse of the law. This investigation is intended to silence and chill any opposition,” von Spakovsky wrote. “It is disgraceful and contemptible behavior by public officials who are willing to exploit their power to achieve ideological ends.”