Only a few months after a coalition of left wing attorneys general and environmentalists commenced an intimidation campaign against ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM) for its presumed politically incorrect views on climate change, the effort has begun to stall after the U.S. Virgin Islands dropped its subpoena amid accusations of political bias and civil rights violations.
Late Wednesday, an agreement between the Irving-based oil giant and Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Walker was entered at a federal courthouse in Fort Worth stipulating that the subpoena demanding roughly 40 years’ of company documents would be dropped if Exxon and fellow defendants withdrew their claims that the investigation violated the company’s First, Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution and other state protections. The parties mutually agreed to return to their respective corners without prejudice, meaning that both sides’ claims could be re-litigated in the future, according to court documents obtained by Breitbart Texas.
Similar to its counterattack strategy seen in separate litigation with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Texas company accused General Walker of participating in the self-described “Green 20” coalition, inspired by former Vice President Al Gore and prominent environmentalist groups, of acting purely on political motivations. Breitbart Texas previously reported in May:
“ExxonMobil initially received a subpoena by U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Walker in March, seeking decades-worth of internal records over concerns that the company’s public statements over the potential impacts of climate change were at odds with its alleged, more politically correct internal beliefs, according to legal records obtained by Breitbart Texas. General Walker hopes to ascertain if the oil giant violated the Criminally Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (CICO), a Virgin Islands law, and committed securities fraud.”
Deeply concerned by the “abuse” of subpoena power seen between the Virgin Islands and a private law firm in D.C., the States of Texas and Alabama moved to intervene on the side of Exxon, as a failure to do so would “set a precedent that anyone can be criminally investigated” for unfashionable viewpoints held on climate policy and beyond. Breitbart Texas also reported in May:
“[A]lthough General Walker did indeed sign his own subpoena, the return address and envelope postmark lists the Washington firm. It is also not lost on the intervening States that the firm in question prides itself in being ‘the most effective … in the United States for lawsuits with a strong social and political component.’ … Assuming that the high-profile firm was engaged on a contingency fee basis in conjunction with General Walker’s politically-charged public commentary that ExxonMobil is ‘destroying the Earth’, the States feel that they must stand for sovereign powers and impartial prosecutorial authority.”
In mid-June, the company accused Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Tracy Healey of leading a prejudiced investigation in an effort to seek a permanent injunction against the Commonwealth’s subpoena. Breitbart Texas reported at the time:
“A critical moment in ExxonMobil’s case civil against General Healey centers on a meeting in March 2015, when she and 19 other attorneys general comprising the ‘Green 20’ declared their collective intent to target the company and others like it with subpoenas and related political actions. The complaint alleges that Healey’s promise of an investigation into the company was prejudiced by her expectation that it would ‘reveal ‘a troubling disconnect between what Exxon knew’ and what it ‘chose to share with investors and with the American public’.’ The pleading repeatedly makes note of Healey and her associates’ political biases as the primary driver for their legal pursuits.”
Like the Virgin Islands, ExxonMobil painted Massachusetts’ racketeering probe as “a weak pretext for an unlawful exercise of government power to further political objectives.”
In a document provided to Breitbart Texas from the company, Massachusetts agreed to suspend enforcement of its subpoena until other related “legal challenges conclude” on June 22.
In response to the claims of attorneys general, ExxonMobil has defended itself by arguing that “for more than a decade” it recognized the “risk of climate change and its potential impacts”.
The company told Breitbart Texas Wednesday that it continues to stand by its March 2016 statement, contending that the Green 20’s “allegations … are an attempt to limit free speech and are the antithesis of scientific inquiry.”
The agreement to dismiss the subpoena was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Fort Worth Division. Copies of applicable legal documents have been provided below.
Logan Churchwell is a founding member of the Breitbart Texas team. You can follow him on Twitter @LCChurchwell.