Sen. Dem Blasts GOP House Member For Probing SEC Over Exxon Investigation

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The Democratic senator involved in crusades against global warming skeptics blasted the GOP chairman of a House committee Thursday for probing the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigation into Exxon Mobil.

Democrat Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island is accusing Texas Republican Rep. Lamar Smith, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology chairman, of “an abuse of power.” Smith is demanding documents from the SEC about its questioning of Exxon’s accounting practices.

The investigation will also try to determine whether the oil company neglected to take climate change regulation into account in their business dealings.

“Is there a hotline between ExxonMobil’s legal department and House Science, Space and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith?” Whitehouse asked in a tweet. “The instant Exxon is faced with a new investigation over its climate mischief, Chairman Smith springs into action.”

Smith sent a letter to the SEC Thursday requesting information related to the probe, and suggested the Exxon investigation could be a political witch-hunt against the oil company. Smith is also involved in his own probe of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s Exxon crusade.

“It appears from press accounts that the SEC’s investigative actions, which date back to at least August of this year, are couched in concerns related to the science of climate change,” the Texas Republican’s letter reads. The letter was addressed to SEC Chair Mary Jo White.

Whitehouse has come under intense scrutiny after a slew of incidents beginning with the senator publicly pushing for investigations into global warming skeptics on the Senate floor, and came to a head when he scrubbed a report criticizing Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) critics on his website of connections to environmental groups.

The report, which first appeared on the Rhode Island senator’s website Monday, appears to have been created by an attorney in conjunction with EarthJustice, a green, legal group currently defending the EPA in the courts.

A new version of the report materialized online, scrubbed of digital fingerprints and linked to David Baron, an EarthJustice attorney working on behalf of the Sierra Club.

The entire Exxon inquisition is partially the result of a September investigation of Exxon conducted by InsideClimate News. The investigation found that Exxon is allegedly playing fast and loose with information concerning global warming.

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