14 of the RICO20
Guest essay by Chris Horner
Yesterday, in a Senate hearing, Attorney General Loretta Lynch acknowledged internal discussions about possible Department of Justice racketeering investigations into political opponents for “forestall[ing] America’s response to climate change” — that is, political speech, in opposition to a political agenda.
The most high-profile contribution to this campaign comes from certain publicly-funded professors, expressly in the capacity of their privileged positions, calling for such investigations in the widely circulated “RICO-20” letter. Not one of them cited to any paper authored, no honorary or academic society, or any award as somehow credentialing their stance. They called for these inquisitions solely citing to their positions with (largely) public universities.
In light of these efforts to abuse governmental power, I and the Competitive Enterprise Institute attempted to obtain documents shedding light on how taxpayer-funded professors used their public positions and resources in this campaign.
We were stonewalled by George Mason University, where six of the RICO-20 teach. GMU at first denied it had any records which we now know exist. GMU has since produced them in response to a subpoena, and they are under protective order awaiting ruling on their release — hundreds of emails related to this campaign, sent and received using public resources, but withheld from public scrutiny.
With yesterday’s admission by the Attorney General, we thought the public would benefit from reading about this campaign, including what publicly funded academics using their taxpayer-funded perches to call for such investigations really know about their own demands.
The following is a transcript of a February deposition of George Mason University Professor Edward Maibach, co-ringleader of the “RICO-20”, in the Virginia Freedom of Information Act suit Horner et al. v. George Mason University.
These records we seek are documents the academy doesn’t want to let the public see. Taking the transcript into account and the subject matter of the records requested, one can draw reasonable assumptions about any documents responsive to our request: they shed light on how this letter came about, how this campaign to neuter free speech works, with whom, and that the campaigners are likely recipients of some of the money they see being shaken out of those they view as political opponents.
If the court rules in our favor and orders those emails released, they’ll tell a very interesting story, and be quite instructive to the public.
In the meantime, some aspects of that story can be learned from our February deposition of Professor Maibach, the transcript of which is below. We believe you will see the effort’s two principal objectives are to cut off private funding for others — those who oppose the RICO-20’s political agenda — and obtain ever more money for their campaign, in the form of a settlement modeled after the tobacco master settlement.
In particular, check out pages 17 – 32, 45 – 48, 59 – 60, 67 – 72, 80 – 83.
The Transcript: Maibach Edward 2002-05-2016 (PDF)
In broad strokes, the letter was an encouragement to the President and the Attorney General to follow up on Senator Whitehouse’s suggestion to call for a RICO investigation of ExxonMobil based on the possibility that they had knowingly deceived the public about climate change and its potential dangers, and in doing so — you know, for the express purpose of preventing American society and global society in dealing with a clear and present danger.
Q. So what you’re telling me is, while you’re not aware of the specifics of RICO and how the law works, you think that what ExxonMobil specifically was doing was troubling and you wanted that stopped?
Q. So what is climate denial? I’ll ask that.
A. What’s climate denial? Good question.
Activities that are intentionally misrepresenting what is known to be true about climate change so as to convince people that climate change is not, in fact, a reality.
Q. So climate denial broadly bothers you then?
A. Mischaracterization of the truth specifically intended to undermine the public’s well-being, yes, typically does bother me.
Q. Can you give me an example of these misrepresentations by ExxonMobil or others?
A. No, not off the top of my head.
There have been activities being funded by to American – the 9 American people and people worldwide.
Q. So you believe that someone knowingly misrepresenting a risk posed by climate change merits investigation?
A. Yes, I do.
Q. Okay. So if someone, for example, were to knowingly hide data indicating an increase in temperatures over the years, that would merit investigation?
A. Say it again, please.
Q. If someone were to hide or misrepresent or deceive the public relating to data which showed an increase in global temperatures over time, that would merit investigation?
A. It would be — I suppose it depends on who it is. But, yes, it would certainly be a deception. And as such, it would be an act that, in my view, ought to be exposed.
Q. So you said hiding an increase in temperatures would be a knowing deception, depending on who it is. I believe that’s what you said a minute ago; is that correct?
Q. What if you knowingly hid a decrease in 20 global temperatures? Would that be a knowing deception?
Q. I have one question — I’m sorry, Thomas, and Professor Maibach — I forgot.
I want to follow up on one thing. Mr. Hardin had asked you about individuals, if they knowingly deceived the American — is – knowingly deceived the American people about the risk of climate change is the offense or what warrants investigation, right?
A. In my view.
Q. Okay. So if Christy and Spenser[sic] — they keep the satellite temperature record. If they were found to have increased — I’m sorry, not increased — hidden an increase in the temperature in the satellite record, would that warrant investigation as knowingly deceiving the American people?
A. They — they as individual climate scientists, if they are fudging their data, then I would say, yes, that would be investigation worthy.
But I wouldn’t think that that would be investigation worthy by the Federal Government. I would think it would be investigation worthy by their funders or by the journals that had published their work.
MR. MONCURE: You’ve already made it clear that you’re not an expert on RICO. A. Correct.
MR. HORNER: But he is an expert on what he wrote. He’s the world’s leading expert on what he wrote. And he wrote that, “knowingly deceiving the American people about the risk of climate change warrants investigation.”
BY MR. HORNER:
Q. And I’m saying, it’s not just — I mean, of all the people who know, it would seem to be climate scientists as opposed to CEOs is my premise. So as opposed to going after CEOs, how about a scientist?
If they knowingly deceived the public by hiding an increase in temperatures, does that also warrant investigation? That’s my question.
A. It does.
Q. Okay. What if they hide a decline in 6 temperatures? Does that warrant an investigation?
A. Any knowing deception warrants – in science warrants an investigation.