Five U.S. Republican Senators sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch demanding that she end the Department of Justice (DOJ) witch hunt against political opponents of President Obama’s energy agenda. They warn her that any improper assertion of federal investigatory or prosecutorial power is an abuse of power.
Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), David Vitter (R-LA), and David Perdue (R-GA), signed the letter warning Lynch that “As you well know, initiating criminal prosecution for a private entity’s opinions on climate change is a blatant violation of the First Amendment and an abuse of power that rises to the level of prosecutorial misconduct.”
They add, “These actions provide disturbing confirmation that government officials at all levels are threatening to wield the sword of law enforcement to silence debate on climate change.”
The U.S. senators note in their letter that “in 2015, the [DOJ] was asked by a ‘coalition of environmentalists and lawmakers’ to investigate whether the past decisions of a private sector company to adopt and publicly disclose certain views on climate issues, and to refrain from adopting and publicly disclosing others, may have violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and related laws.”
Statements from a March 29, 2016, press conference held by Democrat attorneys general from five states, and staff from Democrat AG offices in eleven other states, clearly exposed that similar investigations are ongoing, they write.
As reported by Logan Churchwell for Breitbart Texas, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, in conjunction with Alabama AG Luther Strange filed a motion to intervene in the case involving Irving-based ExxonMobil on May 16. ExxonMobil received a subpoena from U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Walker seeking decades worth of internal records concerning the company’s public statements over the potential impacts of climate change. The AG from the Virgin Islands is seeking to ascertain if ExxonMobil violated a Virgin Islands law – the Criminally Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (CICO). Walker is also seeking to determine if the oil giant committed securities fraud.
The AG from the Virgin Islands also issued a subpoena seeking documents and communications from over 100 private conservative organizations and parties. The subpoena seeks decades of anything that refers to the issues of climate change, greenhouse gases, carbon tax, or climate science, as noted in the letters from the senators.
“This case is about abusing the power of the subpoena to force Exxon to turn over many decades’ worth of records, so an attorney general with an agenda can pore over them in hopes of finding something incriminating,” General Paxton said in a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas. The State of Texas warns that such sweeping subpoenas could “set a precedent that anyone can be criminally investigated” for views that differ from President Obama’s and the federal goverment.
In their letter, the senators demand that the U.S. Attorney General confirm that all investigations into any private individual’s views on climate change end within fourteen days. They also demand that U.S. AG Lynch promise not to initiate any such investigations in the future.
“Freedom of thought and inquiry is at the very heart of liberty,” Sen. Cruz said. “Sadly, the Obama administration and its allies in state attorney general offices across the country are threatening to use the power of government to intimidate and ultimately silence companies and researchers who do not agree with the government’s opinions about the allegedly harmful effects of climate change and what should be done about it. This is an abuse of power and a direct assault on the First Amendment. The Obama Justice Department should immediately cease any further consideration of such action and should instead do everything in its power to protect the freedom of thought of all Americans.”
“Threatening prosecution of those who dare to challenge the most outlandish scaremongering by climate activists strikes at the very heart of the Free Speech protections on which this nation was founded,” Sen. Lee said. “Issuing subpoenas to harass researchers and academics with whom they have communicated, as some state attorneys general offices have done, shows a basic disregard for Americans’ Freedom of Association. The public expects us to prevent such abuses, not perpetrate them. It is our responsibility to contain the inevitable chilling effects by calling for an end to any consideration by the Department of Justice of such harassment at once.”
“Unnecessary government intrusion of private citizens’ lives is an unfortunate characteristic of the reign of the Obama Administration,” Sen. Vitter said. “It is contemptible for the Justice Department to target and threaten individual American citizens and private or non-profit organizations in pursuit of its far-left environmental agenda.”
The Breitbart Texas report about the Texas Attorney General filing a motion to intervene in the ExxonMobil action, noted the well-funded political actors behind the environmental witch hunt. The Wall Street Journal reported in April that a close-knit coalition led by 350.org formed “to establish in public’s mind that Exxon is a corrupt institution that has pushed humanity (and all creation) toward climate chaos and grave harm.”
The activists set out to work with state and federal prosecutors to subpoena documents to “delegitimize [Exxon] as a political actor” and to control them through litigation. The effort is reportedly funded in large part by The Rockefeller Family Fund, operated by the heirs of John D. Rockefeller, founder of Standard Oil, now known as ExxonMobil.