New York’s Schneiderman Will Not Be Outsleazed In His Campaign to Get ExxonMobil

Brian McNicoll
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Posted: Nov 01, 2016 12:01 AM
 New York’s Schneiderman Will Not Be Outsleazed In His Campaign to Get ExxonMobil

Not much good can be said of 2016, but there is this: It is the year the curtain was pulled away, and Americans got a look at how utterly corrupt their political system is.

Access and policy outcomes sold through the State Department; party officials rigging the Democratic primaries for Hillary Clinton; and harassment of legal businesses, such as gun dealers and consumer lenders, because their products are not in favor of the political establishment.

And what may be one of the most pernicious of all … the effort by environmental groups and green energy investors to punish ExxonMobil for not toeing the politically – but not climatologically – correct line on global warming.

The Earth hasn’t warmed appreciably in 20 years, and the green left has grown tired of waiting. So it is lashing out with phony probes whose only purpose seems to be to raise the profiles of the prosecutors responsible.

The man at the center of the investigation, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman,

says he’s not looking beyond his current job. But he’s already cozying up to the big green donors – George Soros has chipped in and Schneiderman had an embarrassing email revealed in which he sought contributions from Tom Steyer, the billionaire green activist who himself is considering a run for governor of California.

And he’s already proving he will not be outsleazed in achieving the pre-determined legal outcome he seeks.

He hasn’t even been able to come up with a viable legal theory to push against ExxonMobil. First, it was that ExxonMobil knew catastrophic consequences were coming thanks to global warming but kept it secret to keep stock prices high.

When that was laughed out of court, he contended that if ExxonMobil actually harvests all the energy it says it is holding in reserve, the Earth would burn up from global warming. Therefore, since those reserves can’t actually be brought to market, ExxonMobil is overstating their value and defrauding investors.

This is not prosecution; it’s persecution. It has nothing to do with law and order and everything to do with using the force of law to silence the other side in a decidedly unsettled political debate. Anyone who doubts this need only look at the players on each side.

On Schneiderman’s side are 17 state attorneys general – 16 Democrats and one, Claude Walker of the U.S. Virgin Islands, who is technically independent. Republican state attorneys general now have formed their own coalition to oppose Schneiderman’s effort, saying in a letter, “It is inappropriate for State Attorneys General to use the power of their office to attempt to silence core political speech on one of the major policy debates of our time.”

If all the Democrats are on one side and all the Republicans on the other, we have a political dispute, not a court case.

His allies have not proven reliable. ExxonMobil responded to Schneiderman’s request for information on what it knew about global warming and when, but it successfully stifled similar requests from Maura Healey, attorney general of Massachusetts, and Walker.

The courts backed ExxonMobil in standing up to what the company called a “fishing expedition” by Healey. Walker learned an even tougher lesson. He decided to become the lead dog in the witch hunt, going after not just records from ExxonMobil but from groups, such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a libertarian think tank (where this writer used to work), for donor records, which are private, and all communications with ExxonMobil.

Not only was Walker rebuffed legally by ExxonMobil, but his subpoena of the Competitive Enterprise Institute ran afoul of a Washington, D.C., law that prohibits legal actions taken to harass political opponents. He was forced to withdraw the subpoena, but his local counsel says he can reinstitute at any time.

Because of this, CEI seeks legal sanctions against his office for its harassment of the organization and attempt to silence opponents in a political argument.

“This was an abuse of process, plain and simple, and we’re determined to see that Walker faces sanctions for an action whose illegality he refuses to recognize,” wrote Sam Kazman, CEI’s chief legal counsel.

But repeated legal defeats don’t seem to deter these global warming warriors. Josh Shapiro, a candidate for attorney general of Pennsylvania who already seems to have his eyes set on higher office, can hardly wait to get elected and join the battle. He’s hitting up all the same green sources of money, including Soros, and he’s already learned that prosecutable crimes are not at all necessary to prosecute when political hay is to be made.

“Climate change is one of our world’s most pressing issues, and I’ve made addressing it a top priority in my campaign and have pledged to hold the fracking industry accountable for violating Pennsylvania’s environmental laws,” Shapiro told Think Progress, a website sponsored by the embattled Center for American Progress.

If we’re to remain a nation of laws, these are the battlegrounds. And this is what’s truly on the ballot Nov. 8.

We need to say no to sleaze, no to prosecutorial abuse and no to settling political disputes through the courts. This might be our last chance.