Federal Court Delivers Stunning Blow to Mass. AG and #ExxonKnew Campaign

By Katie Brown. (h/t to Matt Dempsey)

In yet another stunning blow to the #ExxonKnew campaign, a federal judge today issued a discovery order against Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey to determine whether “bias or prejudgment” influenced her decision to initiate a “bad faith” investigation into ExxonMobil, just days after she appeared before news cameras with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Al Gore and other Democratic state attorneys general in New York.

As the Washington Post reported this afternoon, this “new discovery order could open the door for an intrusive examination of Maura Healey ’s internal phone records, other communications and depositions,” shedding light on the extent to which Healey, Schneiderman and others have conspired with outside activists, plaintiff attorneys and partisan political interests to carry out their failed #ExxonKnew campaign.

We know from FOIA’d emails that the AGs in Schneiderman’s climate coalition tried to hide behind a Common Interest Agreement, which would keep their correspondence on the Exxon investigations secret. But sunlight is the best disinfectant, they say, and that is exactly what taxpayers will get a result of today’s action. Here are the key passages from the federal court order related to Healey’s “bias” and “bad faith”:

“Attorney General Healey’s actions leading up to the issuance of the CID causes the Court concern and presents the Court with the question of whether Attorney General Healey issued the CID with bias or prejudgment about what the investigation of Exxon would discover.” (p. 3-4)

“The Court finds the allegations about Attorney General Healey and the anticipatory nature of Attorney General Healey’s remarks about the outcome of the Exxon investigation to be concerning to this Court. The foregoing allegations about Attorney General Healey, if true, may constitute bad faith in issuing the CID which would preclude Younger abstention. Attorney General Healey’s comments and actions before she issued the CID require the Court to request further information so that it can make a more thoughtful determination about whether this lawsuit should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.” (p. 5-6)

Last month, during the original hearing on this case, lawyers representing Healey’s office claimed that their subpoena was not political. But Judge Kinkeade wasn’t buying it, considering that the AGs announced their investigations at a press conference with Al Gore. As Judge Kinkeade said at the time, “like Al Gore wasn’t frickin’ involved!”

In his order, Judge Kinkeade highlights both the news conference and the fact that Healey and the other AGs in Schneiderman’s climate coalition attended a “closed door meeting” ahead of the conference, where they were briefed by top players in the #ExxonKnew campaign: Peter Frumhoff of the Union of Concerned Scientists and activist lawyer Matt Pawa, who has made a handsome living suing ExxonMobil. From the order:

“Prior to the issuance of the CID, Attorney General Healey and several other attorneys general participated in the AGs United for Clean Power Press Conference on March 29, 2016 in New York, New York. Notably, the morning before the AGs United for Clean Power Press Conference, Attorney General Healey and other attorneys general allegedly attended a closed door meeting. At the meeting, Attorney General Healey and the other attorneys general listened to presentations from a global warming activist and an environmental attorney that has a well-known global warming litigation practice. Both presenters allegedly discussed the importance of taking action in the fight against climate change and engaging in global warming litigation.

One of the presenters, Matthew Pawa of Pawa Law Group, P.C., has allegedly previously sued Exxon for being a cause of global warming. After the closed door meeting, Pawa emailed the New York Attorney General’s office to ask how he should respond if asked by a Wall Street Journal reporter whether he attended the meeting with the attorneys general. The New York Attorney General’s office responded by instructing Pawa ‘to not confirm that [he] attended or otherwise discuss’ the meeting he had with the attorneys general the morning before the press conference.” (p. 4)

Further outlining the cause of the court’s “concern” over the impetus of the investigation, Judge Kinkeade highlighted the potentially “biased” comments Healey made while speaking at the Schneiderman-Gore press conference:

“During Attorney General Healey’s speech, she stated that “[f]ossil fuel companies that deceived investors and consumers about the dangers of climate change should be, must be, held accountable.” Attorney General Healey then went on to state that, “[t]hat’s why I, too, have joined in investigating the practices of ExxonMobil. We can all see today the troubling disconnect between what Exxon knew, what industry folks knew, and what the company and industry chose to share with investors and with the American public.” The speech ended with Attorney General Healey reiterating the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’s commitment to combating climate change and that the fight against climate change needs to be taken “[b]y quick, aggressive action, educating the public, holding accountable those who have needed to be held accountable for far too long.” Subsequently, on April 19, 2016, Attorney General Healey issued the CID to Exxon to investigate whether Exxon committed consumer and securities fraud on the citizens of Massachusetts.” (p. 5)

While Healey’s comments and those of her cohorts at the Schneiderman-Gore event serve as prima facie evidence of “prejudgment” and “bias” by themselves, the discovery process could yield additional and more devastating behind-the-scenes documentation that would lead the court to a “bad faith” determination.

Considering all this, it’s unsurprising that the other AGs in Eric Schneiderman’s climate coalition tried to distance themselves from his investigation. FOIA’d emails revealed that the Virginia AG’s office said it makes them “nervous” to say they are working together and asked Schneiderman’s office to “dial that back one notch.” The Iowa AG’s office called Schneiderman a “wild card” and apparently tried to get out of attending the press conference at all, but felt they’d have to “ride it through.” Another set of FIOA’d emails revealed that just a few weeks after the Delaware AGs office agreed to sign on to the Common Interest Agreement (in which parties planned to keep their work concealed from the public records requests), the AG suddenly pulled out: “Our AG has determined that Delaware will not be involved in this worthy effort, and thus will not be signing the common interest agreement.”

While Healey, Schneiderman, and U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Walker (who ended up having to retract his subpoena) were happy to march on with this biased and politically-motivated crusade, the other AGs were apparently smart enough to see the writing on the wall and bow out before being rebuked in the courts.

Federal Court Delivers Stunning Blow to Mass. AG and #ExxonKnew Campaign

Link to blog post: https://energyindepth.org/national/federal-court-delivers-stunning-blow-to-mass-ag-and-exxonknew-campaign/

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101 thoughts on “Federal Court Delivers Stunning Blow to Mass. AG and #ExxonKnew Campaign

  1. Oh, the schadenfreude is delicious. They figured the ends (“saving the planet”) would justify the means. Turns out the courts take a rather dim view of that.

    • She only needs to destroy all evidence and plead the Fifth Amendment.
      The precedent has been set – repeatedly.

      • Shred emails, shred laptop, *after* subpoena, no penalty.
        Do it quick, while the current “justice” department is in place, and current FBI “leadership” is in place.
        And this is Boston, MA, after all, so what difference does it make, anyway?

      • “That will get her thrown into jail”

        Not if she’s yet another to add to the long list who get immunity from the FBI lol!!

      • Re the 5th amendment.

        As an outsider where there is no such protection against self incrimination I wonder whether such a claim could be used a a double edged sword. I do not know what the exact wording of the oath taken when someone goes under oath, but here in NZ it is of three parts.
        1.. I swear to tell the truth
        2.. I swear to tell the whole truth.
        3.. I swear to tell nothing but the truth.

        As I see it someone “taking the 5th” is in breach of part two of the oath and as such is committing perjury, but this is possibly an argument that should be made by someone more versed in the law than me. Also by claiming they right to not self incriminate when (as for example when someone has been granted immunity) are they perhaps breaching part 1 and 3?

        As an aside, if a questioning counsel requires a witness to answer “yes or no” to a question with a complex are they compelling they witness to perjury because the witness cannot tell the “whole truth”?

        As I say I am an outsider but have these questions ever been resolved under US jurisprudence?

      • She just needs to change her name to Clinton and then be free to do anything she wants without fear of repercussion.

      • @Richard of NZ
        The Fifth Amendment does not compromise the oath or affirmation one makes before getting on the stand. It’s a shield against compelling an individual to testify against themselves. In that case, the prosecutor cannot call me to the stand and compel my testimony. I “plead the Fifth”. It is not permission to lie on the stand. In criminal cases, juries are generally not allowed to infer anything negative if someone exercises that right. The court of public opinion is another matter.

        Lawyers frequently try to elicit “yes” or “no” answers, but the courts have held that one has the right to explain one’s answer. At least in the US.

      • CommieBob, The issue is that the administration has shown willingness to use illegal means to protect its allies while witholding protection from their political opponents. Most notably see Hillary Clinton, who’s investigation was so.

        Fox News did an in-depth article about it yesterday, and it read like a police procedural that was repeatedly dramatically compromised by a corrupt official. In fact, if it had been fiction, I would have dismissed it as being too outlandish.

        Now, please compare and contrast the treatment of Exxon and Peter Gleick. The ExxonKnew campaign was pushed forward despite a complete lack of evidence and a rationalization for the accusation that required numerous large leaps of logic. To compare, Peter Gleick publicly confessed to committing wire fraud against the Heartland Institute. This was widely recorded and publicized. It’s a textbook case that has no ambiguities or uncertainties. However, federal authorities have refused to bring charges. There is no rational explanation except political choice.

        Corruption of the courts is inexcusable, and should lead to impeachment procedings and disbarments against all involved.

      • Richard of NZ, to answer your question. The way it was intended to work is that you can’t selectively claim fifth amendment privilege. You cannot partially testify and then claim privilege on the rest. If you claim it, you are not supposed to testify AT ALL. In fact, people attempting to do that have lost the privilege by giving partial testimony, and the court compels them to submit to further questioning (note: this happens more in dramas as most lawyers aren’t stupid enough to try it).

        As for forced yes or no questions, that’s a good way for a lawyer to get a judge really angry unless the defendant is evading the question.

      • Maybe some people will remember back in the 1990’s, that Ms. Clinton (Hillary) was called to testify before a Grand Jury (I believe), and she could not remember anything. Mr. Limbaugh even made up a parody song about it, and played it on his radio show. That was long before she had a concussion. I don’t remember, I don’t recall, appears to be her standard M. O. (modus operandi). If her brain is truely that defective, she has no business running to be the POTUS.

      • Could be a Russian connection. Corruption, activism and fake environmentalism are tools in their arsenal.

    • At least some courts take a dim view, but not all courts. Then consider the SCOTUS if Billary gets to choose several justices.

  2. Had to Google Judge Kinkeade to find he’s on the USDC for the Northern District of Texas. Article should have included that info.

  3. Amazing. Simply amazing. At least the CAGW political corruption has not poisoned this court.

    The next test is what price (if any) will the AG’s incur. I’m not holding my breath.

    • That the judge made one proper order does not imply a lack of corruption, only a lack of a particular corruption. Exxon’s corporate offices are within that judicial district. Just sayin’.

      • ‘just sayin’ – in other words: ‘hints and allegations.’ Sorry but I won’t call you Al.

  4. Let’s see how far this goes and who/how many are implicated as well. Seems to me that anyone involved in the collusion could be liable.

  5. There’s that “Matthew Pawa” name again, one of the three people I mentioned in my online article, ” ‘The Usual Suspects’ in the Persecution of Global Warming Skeptics” http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2016/04/the_usual_suspects_in_the_persecution_of_global_warming_skeptics.html

    And I covered Gore’s long-term involvement in the overall smear of skeptics as ‘paid industry shills’, which includes this current RICO effort, here: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2016/04/gores_ricostyle_prosecution_of_global_warming_skeptics.html

    • We should call them what they are, they are Lobbyists. The left has identified Lobbyists as the root of much evil in government, we should turn that against them. Frumhoff & Pawa are Green extremist Lobbyists

  6. Appointments to the courts is something that hasn’t recieved enough emphasis in the US elections, except for the Supreme Court. If Scheiderman et al had a cooperative judge, all this would go on indefinitely.

  7. Oh, please let the suit go forward. I want to learn how a couple of guys without computers or the last 40 years of data and research could have proven that catastrophic anthropogenic Climate Change was a fact and how they could have known what worldwide laws and regulations would be passed between then and now and affected them.

    And I’d like to know how it was a crime for them to not publish their supposed research.

    #greentyranny or #tinfoilhat

    • Oregon used to have fairly intelligent voters living there, until the Greenies (rhymes with weenies), who had wrecked their previous states to the point, where they were unlivable moved there, and then proceeded to wreck Oregon, (e.g. the court case which was brought by children in Eugene, et al and 370.org to sue everyone, because the adults were wrecking the future of the earth with carbon polution). I don’t know what former Gov. Tom McCall’s position on CAGW would have been, but I would like to think, it would not be that stupid. I don’t think, he would have put up with idiots. A candidate’s position on CAGW is a good way to determine, if they are intelligent enough to hold public office.

  8. The whole “Exxonknew” concept is an abomination:

    Millions of climate scientist’s with budgets of billions have spent decades to discover the extent of AGW and its ‘dangers’ to world, yet they now discover a couple of oilfield guys knew it all along?

    Bloody idiocy.

    • So far, the oil companies have played ball with the green monster. I think that this Exxonknew fiasco my change that. I could see a future where all the oil money funneled into big green dries up, and the oil companies actually start funding skeptical research and lobbying (kind of like they are accused of now).

  9. The legal chickens are definitely coming home to roost. Terrific ruling. She will end up disbarred. Spoken as a licensed Mass attorney since 1976.

      • Anything can be appealed to the SC, but will the SC take the case. I believe a district court case is first appealed to appeals court before SC.

    • She will end up disbarred.

      A company called SCO sued IBM, among others, over various allegations about the Linux operating system. The whole sad saga spun out over a decade and was covered by Groklaw. We all knew the eventual outcome. SCO was almost inventing their case out of thin air. In the mean time, SCO engaged in a scorched earth campaign that, imho, was a classic lesson in how to abuse the courts without being thrown in jail.

      The one thing I learned was that courts are capable of gobsmackingly perverse decisions. None of us, lawyers included, correctly guessed the outcome of many of the motions.

      I am not, nor have I ever been, a lawyer. That said, I would bet a friendly cup of coffee that nobody will actually be disbarred in the present case. :-) SCO vs. IBM

    • ristvan:

      I really enjoy your insight and comments on legal issues. A summary of disbarment proceedings in MA would be greatly appreciated. I assume there is a standing judicial commission to consider complaints against attorneys and Exxon could file a complaint (depending on what the discovery yields).

      What are the standards and precedents for disbarment in MA? Are there lesser actions the commission could take? Does disbarment automatically disqualify a sitting AG from continuing in office? Can/would the governor remove a disbarred AG? How long does a formal complaint take to decide?

    • if convicted, disbarrment will follow, and they will be “Non-Attorneys Private” My old high school classmate (Brian Frosh, AG of Maryland), has apparently wiggled out of this – he was on the podium, but I guess smart enough to not pursue it.

  10. Reading between the lines, the federal judge may be sending a message: “Thou shalt not use the powers vested in the Attorney General office for political vendettas! Your responsibility is to justice, not the environment or any other cause.

    • Your responsibility is to justice, not the environment or any other cause.

      but it’s “environmental justice”, don’t you know. Yet another corrupted word…

  11. Massachusetts has a penchant for arrogant, overachieving AG’s.
    Martha C(r)oakley preceded Healey. C(r)oakley was like Clinton, a very unlikable wooden politician. She was defeated by Scott Brown for Chappaquiddick Ted’s US Senate seat in 2010. Then Croakley was defeated by Republican Charlie Baker to be the governor in 2014. Ms. Healey is likely in her last elected position.

  12. I read the term years ago and this seems a good place and time to use it.

    “Committed professional infamy.”

  13. The possibility exists that is is phase one of a free pass to continue. If the discovery does not reveal what it was called for then the floodgates open and it could become very expensive for Exxon’s customers.

  14. AG Healey said before her ‘investigation’ took place:

    “[f]ossil fuel companies that deceived investors and consumers about the dangers of climate change should be, must be, held accountable.”

    IOW, the outcome of the desired ‘investigation’ was already decided.

  15. I have always been of the opinion that all elected or appointed government or court personnel should routinely be put on a lie detector every six months and asked a set of questions regarding if they have acted contrary to the law, or have used their positions to enrich themselves, family members or friends.
    Anyone failing said test gets the boot and may never hold such a position ever again.
    Just to be fair, said questioning should be broadcast to the public ,so they can see justice being done.

      • The difference is one teaches you how to think, so you can seek answers for yourself.
        The other teaches you what to think, and discourages / forbids seeking your own answers.

        (And the correct spelling is asked , no need for the r.)

    • Polygraphy, in general, is its own pseudoscience. It would take too long to give the full etiology here, but let’s just say that it is not only unreliable, but entirely subjective. It is as much bluffing as anything else.
      I am, however, of the considered opinion that no office should offer immunity to actions taken willfully and maliciously. No office should have room for that in its official dealings. The state, further, cannot offer immunity for anyone engaged against state or federal law, as the office itself is predicated (ostensibly) on adherence thereto.
      Now, as a matter of current legal ‘reality’, (in spite of the insistence that ignorance of the law is no excuse in most prosecutions for ‘standard citizens’) the prosecutors extend ignorance to absolve willfulness for their friends. Meanwhile, as a separate precedent, in spite of officers of the court being ‘deemed to know the law’ in a court, they can, in another breath when sued or prosecuted in the criminal realm, claim ignorance as well. It could be argued USC title 18, section 2, 3, and 4 taken together remove prosecutorial discretion entirely, as failure to vigorously prosecute or report crimes to civil or military authorities is also a felony, as is ordering the act be done.
      It’s a very… odd situation, and quite rigged in favour of those in office.

    • Great idea Felflames but unfortunately it won’t work. It’s well known that sociopaths can beat a lie detector every time because they lack a conscience.

  16. The Government is sick.
    If abuse of power and corruption are the cancer, then Trump is the chemotherapy.
    It might be rough medicine, but it’s our only chance for survival.
    The cancer is everywhere.
    God help us.

    • I won’t have any sympathy for Republican big donors when they start howling after Hillary (their candidate) begins seizing their assets, a promise she made in 2008 and has repeated this election cycle. And it’s all because Bush the Elder’s feelings were hurt when voters rejected Bush the Younger. They lost a fortune on Jeb, and now they’re cutting off their noses to spite their faces.

      Pees in a pod. (Pun intended)

      • Yup, it is one good old boys and girls club. They preach what they must during election years but always protect each other from outsiders. This is why they all hate Mr Trump so much. I am no fan of The Donald but it is time to oust the career politicians across the board.

      • Tom, I think you nailed the problem when you called them “career politicians”. It turns out that in this day of postmodern ethics politicians no longer work for the good of the people. They have no moral compass to guide them. Their primary drive, and in some cases only drive, is to take what ever actions necessary for their own re-election. This has led to the development of a class society consisting of the ruling class of elected politicians, the ‘K-Street’ enablers (i.e, the think tanks, lobbyists, and advocacy groups that throw money at then), the enforcers (i.e., Justice, IRS, FBI and government bureaucrats) and the MSM (Main Stream Media) with their desire to both be close to the seat of power and influence it for their own benefit. The rest of us are just the peons, proletariat or whomever that reside in ‘flyover country’ and don’t know enough to get in out of the rain, much less what is best for us.

        It’s a shame but as far as I can determine the only permanent fix for the current situation is term limits, gross restrictions on the Interstate Commerce clause and a balanced budget amendment. Our system was designed around the idea of a citizen legislator that went to Washington a few day a year to decide and vote on what was best for the country and the people within it, then return home to his day job. There was to be no money involved other that expenses, and no way to enrich yourself, your friends or supporters through legislative action. I doubt any of our founders foresaw the gross expansion of the Interstate Commerce clause that has opened the door for man’s natural tendencies of greed and self-aggrandizement that have led to today’s situation in Washington. But, good luck on any of this ever happening. We will most likely descend into some form of socialist totalitarian democracy.

  17. These AGs seem like a bunch of amateurs. They hold a big press announcement and they have Al Gore there, don’t they know that his mere presence is poison?

    When he’s around, no one takes any event seriously, he’s the kiss of death. Even I know that.

    I’d love to have their six figure job, how do I get a job as an AG?

    • “lawyers representing Healey’s office claimed that their subpoena was not political. ”

      Jeez how can you have an organisation called “AGs United for Clean Power” and pretend that it is not political or that legal moves that come out of it are not politically motivated.

      It’s not called “AGs United for informed shareholders” is it? It’s a political campaign intending to shut down fossil fuel use that is attacking a fossil fuel company. This is clear legal harassment.

      This is going to get interesting.

      • Fair and obvious point,

        And these people aren’t stupid.

        Envision how immersed they must be, every day, in the culture/climate that allows them to get away with such shit. So much so that they actually think this scheme is just another that they can get away with.

        Its scary to think of the people that they have already screwed.

  18. What does not stop surprising me, is that conservatives are using FOIAs successfully to expose evil deeds of the representatives of government. FOIA sounds more like stuff that the ‘progressives’ would be using, but at least it can be used against left wing gone out of control.

    Btw, who’s keeping exxonnew.org? Nice little misinformation site.

  19. Good news but I fear as with everything else in climate nonsense and the latest government administration, there will be no negative consequences for these people.

    Justice in America is gone.

  20. There are systems of belief. My belief system says when the road traffic light is on red then I will stop my car before cross roads.

    No problem with belief systems.

    Maybe greens support other, higher educated believe systems. Dream along.

    Be sure I won’t pay your pink dolphins dreams.

  21. Hillary’s phone smashing hammer is probably available till at least after the election .
    What a coincidence Al Gore just happened to be in town and on stage .
    AG’s acting as lobbyist’s “AG’s for Clean Power ‘ . Who made up the sign ?
    Al Gore ? Or one of the disorganized AG clique ?
    These people need to lose their jobs .
    A Discovery Order . Perfect . Let’s see who these Creepy Clowns conspired with .
    No free pass on their assault of democracy and the rule of law .
    It’s about time and Gore jumping into the net is a bonus .

  22. The Creepy Clowns big mistake was slandering Exxon but more importantly the shot gun approach at organizations they attempted to validate their witch hunt with . Exxon may be more inclined to have this quietly go away but the others smell blood and are not going to let the AG’s slime their way out of it .
    Good on the Judge for seeing through the greedy politically motivated witch hunt .
    Interesting they targeted Exxon though , Looking for some quick sue /settle cash and then move on to the next one ? Say it ain’t so .
    Who cares what Exxon or any other energy company knows ? Global cooling 1970’s scare and scary global warming the current fraud . It did take a little time to confirm it though .
    Reading the strategy recommendations of a large Democrat donor advising to create a good guy /bad guy public perception fits this failed attempt to a tee .
    Actively trolling for personal funding money as an AG to target Exxon shows a premeditated bad faith bias and it will come to light if other AG’s were made aware
    of any such efforts . Looks like a bunch of AG’s got sucked into being used as props
    so the ring leaders could hide . Sort of like the global warming alarmist mantra “scientists say ” .
    Yes it’s warming thank goodness and climate changes . The sheer arrogance of scary global warming promoters that they can stop climate change by reducing a trace gas beneficial to life is nut job territory .

    Exxon don’t cave into the Creepy Climate Clowns .

    • Dear Amber

      “The sheer arrogance of scary global warming promoters that they can stop climate change by reducing a trace gas beneficial essential to life is nut job territory .”

      Slight error, fixed.

      That was a public information service.

      DP

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