By Adam KIasfeld, Courthouse News Service
MANHATTAN (CN) — Continuing their fraud investigations into ExxonMobil, the attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts refused to open their files for a climate change-denying House Committee on Science, Space and Technology chairman who hit them with subpoenas.
Both of the attorneys general call Rep. Lamar Smith’s subpoenas — which sought their communications with advocacy groups, among other things — an “unprecedented” attempt to meddle with probes by state regulators.
Their investigations began shortly after the Los Angeles Times and Inside Climate News started publishing a groundbreaking series of articles reporting that ExxonMobil scientists privately confirmed the effects of a warming planet as early as the 1970s.
The Texas-based oil giant launched a misinformation campaign decades later, enlisting think tanks, junk scientists and lobbyists to stave off government action and mislead the public and shareholders, the outlets reported.
A month after the series went to press, New York’s top prosecutor Eric Schneiderman and his Massachusetts colleague Maura Healey began looking into whether ExxonMobil’s spin amounted to fraud.
Smith, a Texas Republican who has received more than $687,000 in fossil fuel donations, made his hostility to the investigations known earlier this month.
According to Open Secrets, Smith counts the oil and gas industry as his biggest lifetime donors and has used his science committee platform at every opportunity to try to discredit the scientific consensus on global warming.
Earlier this month, Smith announced his subpoenas against Schneiderman, Healey, and eight advocacy groups at a press conference where he called the ExxonMobil investigations “a form of extortion.”
Three of recipients refused to comply on Tuesday, in separate scathing letters to the committee’s office in Washington.
Announcing his reply on Twitter, Schneiderman called the subpoenas the work of “GOP extremists.”
Schneiderman did …