It isn’t often that global warming becomes a free speech issue. However, this may be the case in New York, where 11 state attorneys general filed an amicus brief in federal court in support of ExxonMobil in late April. ExxonMobil is in the midst of a lengthy legal battle with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who has spent more than a year trying to obtain decades of documents from the company first looking to see if ExxonMobil had lied to the public about the risks of climate change and, later, backtracking to determine if the company had defrauded investors by overstating the sizes of its reserves. In a call on Tuesday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton spoke about the case as an abuse of prosecutorial power and an infringement on first amendment rights…
The Energy and Environmental Legal Institute played a role in the sprawling multi-state legal battle by using sunshine laws to sue for records of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s contacts with members of the Rockefeller Family Fund and other environmentalists in the weeks prior to November 2015, when Schneiderman opened his investigation of the company.
Chris Horner, a senior legal fellow at the Energy and Environment Legal Institute, one of the groups that has sued the New York Attorney General for records, tells InsideSources that law protecting confidential investigative correspondence exists for a reason, but it falls on Schneiderman’s office to justify why the correspondences are being withheld.
“In this case, Schneiderman has to establish that he is permitted to and did in fact deputize the party’s biggest donor [billionaire Tom Steyer], and the Rockefeller Family Fund, to help him perform his law enforcement duties. That it wasn’t using his office to pursue a political campaign, that is, that he wasn’t telling the truth when recruiting fellow AGs,” he wrote.