Exxon Mobil’s legal defense against investigation is being propped up by a “dark money machine” created by a vast network of conservative groups, the attorney general in charge of the probe said Wednesday.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman accused groups such as Americans for Prosperity, the Heritage Foundation and the Competitive Enterprise Institute specifically of directing a campaign aimed at defending Exxon from a climate change investigation.
“It’s like they pulled a lever on the dark money machine,” the Democratic attorney general told reporters. After the initial probe against Exxon was announced, he added, there were “60 or 70 op-ed columns or editorials … attacking me all over America” within weeks.
“The challenge is, in most media markets in the country, all people have heard is the other side of the argument because [the conservative groups’] infrastructure is so remarkable,” Schneiderman said.
Texas Federal Judge Ed Kinkeade said Oct. 14 he suspected Schneiderman’s colleague, Democratic Massachusetts AG Maura Healey, of acting in “bad faith” when she issued her own subpoena targeting Exxon. She was hoping to acquire the same trove of documents the New York attorney general sought.
The judge also said the investigation has all the earmarks of a political inquisition.
Schneiderman received nearly $265,000 in campaign contributions from lawyers and politicians who stand to gain from a legal victor against Exxon.