New York state Republicans are calling for the U.S. district attorney to investigate Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for “abusing the power of his office for political gain.”
“Another day, and more evidence Eric Schneiderman is using the Office of the Attorney General for political purposes,” state GOP Chairman Edward Cox said in a statement after Schneiderman appealed to a liberal billionaire to finance a potential 2018 gubernatorial run.
The New York Post obtained emails showing Schneiderman reaching out to former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer in March — about four months after Schneiderman began investigating ExxonMobil for allegedly misleading investors about the risks of global warming.
Steyer, a major funder of environmental causes and an Exxon critic, spent more than $73 million in the 2014 election cycle supporting Democratic candidates and opposing Republicans.
Schneiderman also wanted to talk to Steyer about his ongoing Exxon investigation, which is being pushed by environmentalists who want to see the company punished like the tobacco industry.
Cox said the emails show Schneiderman, “sought to leverage his investigation of ExxonMobil to secure support from billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer in his potential run for higher office.”
Cox also cited Schneiderman’s unwillingness to force the Clinton Foundation to disclose its foreign donors in state tax filings as part of a, “long and disturbing pattern of abusing the power of his office for political gain.” In contrast, Schneiderman just launched a probe into the Trump Foundation.
Schneidermanreceived nearly $264,000 in campaign contributions from wealthy individuals with ties to environmentalists targeting Exxon. That includes donations from lawyers whose firm had a financial interest in a legal judgement against Exxon.
Schneiderman began investigating Exxon in November after reporters with InsideClimate News and Columbia University published stories alleging Exxon “knew” about the risks of global warming for decades, but somehow covered it up and funded skeptic groups.
California, Massachusetts and the U.S. Virgin Islands also pledged to go after Exxon for its global warming activities, launching probes that ensnared dozens of conservative nonprofits and scientists skeptical of man-made warming.
House Republican lawmakers subpoenaed attorneys general investigating Exxon along with environmental groups working behind the scenes, but Schneiderman and his allies have resisted federal lawmakers’ orders.
“Both of these cases indicate sufficient evidence to warrant an independent investigation by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara,” Cox said. “Mr. Schneiderman must also comply with a subpoena issued by the U.S. House Science Committee requesting information about his ExxonMobil investigations amid allegations that the investigation is politically motivated.
“To date, he has chosen to defy the subpoena, leaving many troubling questions unanswered. As the highest ranking law enforcement officer in the state, the Attorney General must be above politics and until this matter is investigated by an independent body, there will be an indelible stain on the office.”
Schneiderman’s office denied the March emails referred to the attorney general running for office, suggesting it referred to Steyer running for governor of California.
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