A Los Angeles Times editorial by the director of the Rockefeller Family Fund failed to disclose the group’s involvement in investigations targeting Exxon Mobil.
Lee Wasserman, the RFF’s director, wrote a Tuesday op-ed for the LA Times fleshing out specifics about media-generated investigations into the oil company’s climate research history. The LA Times disclosed the group’s financial contributions to the investigation, but falsely suggested RFF had nothing to do with the investigations.
“The Fund has made grants to the Columbia Journalism School’s Energy and Environment Reporting Project and InsideClimate News, but has no involvement in articles they produce,” the paper’s disclosure notes.
The disclosure implies RFF did not actively participate in the investigations, which were first reported by environmental media group, InsideClimate News (ICN) and the LA Times last November.
RFF finally came clean earlier this year after Wasserman admitted in a New York Books editorial in December that the family intended all along to bring down Exxon because of its supposed skeptical position on global warming.
“[W]e paid for a team of independent reporters from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism to try to determine what Exxon and other US oil companies had really known about climate science, and when,” Kaiser and Wesserman wrote in November.
His admission runs contrary to previous comments suggesting Exxon was never singled out when it donated $25,000 to ICN.
The Oil rich Rockefeller family also admitted directing various U.S. attorneys general to target Exxon Mobil over the company supposedly hiding decades worth of climate research.
The only way to target Exxon for hiding climate change research was to request the New York AGs office to open an investigation into the company, Wasserman wrote in another section of the editorial.
“It is up to government officials, not public interest advocates, to determine whether ExxonMobil’s conduct” violated state law, so the RFF “informed state attorneys general of our concern that ExxonMobil seemed to have failed” to make the public aware of the risks climate change poses to investors, the RFF director wrote.
Wasserman impressed upon New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman the importance of taking down Exxon. The New York Democrat began an investigation into the company several months later 2015, “demanding extensive financial records, emails and other documents” from the oil producer dating all the way back to the 1970s.
Schneiderman has raked in nearly $264,000 in campaign donations from wealthy benefactors with ties to lawyers associated with the global warming investigation.
The LA Times, for its part, has gone from reporting on Exxon’s dealings to actively lobbying California’s next attorney general to join Schneiderman and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s anti-Exxon campaign.
The paper hopes Rep. Xavier Becerra, a Democrat nominated by Gov. Jerry Brown as California’s next attorney general, will take up investigations against the company if he is elected.
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