NY AG Talked With Wealthy Activists Nine Months Before Starting Exxon Probe
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman communicated with environmental activists nine months before launching an investigation targeting Exxon Mobil over the company’s climate research history.
Court documents show the New York Democrat’s top staffers were spoke with Rockefeller Family Fund (RFF) director Lee Wasserman going back to February 2015, nearly a year before the AG kick-started his probe. RFF has helped direct much of the anti-Exxon crusade.
Most of the e-mails between Wasserman and Schneiderman discussed “specific companies regarding climate change,” court documents show.
The New York AG was forced to release his connections as part of a Freedom of Information suit filed by Free Market Environmental Law Clinic, a free market non-profit based in Washington, D.C.
Schneiderman cavorted with activists in March under similar circumstances. The Daily Caller News Foundation obtained emails that month showing his office invited activists with the Union of Concerned Scientists to give presentations to a group of state prosecutors about “climate change litigation” and the “imperative of taking action now on climate change.”
They gave their presentations behind closed doors the same day Schneiderman was joined by former Vice President Al Gore in March condemning Exxon for “fraud” and “deceiving the American people.”
Wasserman, for his part, has played a crucial role in the investigations. He was reticent at first to acknowledge his role in the probe but finally admitted in December that RFF moved forward on the investigations.
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 Wednesday in an editorial for New York Books. His co-director, David Kaiser, co-authored 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 public the risks climate change poses to investors, Wasserman wrote.
The two RFF executives impressed upon New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman the importance of using a little-known law called the Martin Act to take down Exxon.
The New York Democrat began his investigation in 2015, which, according to a New York Times report at the time, was “demanding extensive financial records, emails and other documents” from the oil producer dating all the way back to the 1970s.
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