#ExxonKnew and Schneiderman get hoisted by their own petard

Schneiderman Continues Media Strategy in Court Hearing with Meaningless “Bombshell” Claim

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office attempted once again to manufacture an email controversy, proclaiming in a letter that Exxon had refused “to comply in good faith with OAG’s investigative subpoena dated November 4, 2015,” and characterizing it as a “bombshell” in a court hearing held today.

Meanwhile, here’s the real bombshell: the Daily Caller has just reported that legal discoveries show Lem Srolovic, the Assistant Attorney General in Schneiderman’s office, used a personal Gmail address to converse with activist organizations in 2012. This news comes just after Schneiderman’s office tried to make a big deal about an alternate email for former Exxon president and CEO Rex Tillerson (which was a company-issued account, not a Gmail address, by the way) that was used to speed up communications with company leadership. Also let’s not forget that Srolovic was the guy who told #ExxonKnew activist Matt Pawa not to tell a reporter that he secretly briefed the AGs ahead of their now infamous March 29th press conference with Al Gore.

It’s worth noting that Schneiderman’s office will appear in court next week to answer for his refusal to turn over emails between his office and major donors of the #ExxonKnew campaign – including the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Rockefeller Family Fund, and billionaire activist Tom Steyer, which date back to before the original #ExxonKnew hit pieces by the Rockefeller-funded InsideClimate News and Columbia School of Journalism were published.

In court today, the judge made it very clear that a letter written on behalf of Exxon addressed many of Schneiderman’s accusations, and he even highlighted a “rule of proportionality” regarding the AG’s continued effort to gather more materials from Exxon – despite the thousands of documents already provided. ExxonMobil pointed out that the “rule of this Court” is that Schneiderman must consult with Exxon prior to taking the matter to court – of course, in his pursuit of headlines, Schneiderman failed to do this. From the letter on behalf of ExxonMobil:

“The Attorney General’s fears of a widespread loss of data at ExxonMobil are entirely unfounded, and ExxonMobil is already taking steps to provide the Attorney General with the relief he seeks in his letter. Other than providing further evidence of his penchant for hyperbole and sensationalism in his ever-shifting investigation, the Attorney General’s letter serves principally to highlight why consultation between the parties prior to seeking Court intervention is not just a rule of this Court, but also a prudent approach to routine discovery disputes like this one […] The Attorney General should have complied with this Court’s rules and made a bona fide effort to pursue consultation before returning once again to court.” (emphasis added)

Schneiderman’s office attempted to justify this by saying that it had emailed Exxon its request for more documents and “Receiv[ed] no timely response…” But Schneiderman’s office fails to mention it emailed Exxon only mere hours before it went to court and to the press. That’s a pretty strange interpretation of “timely.”

Today’s hearing also puts the spotlight on how this entire dispute hinges on the fact that Schneiderman has changed the reason for his investigation no less than three times, after he realized that that his previous justification – namely #ExxonKnew – was not working out for him. Because of this, Exxon notes that Schneiderman originally said not to prioritize emails from senior management, or the “Management Committee Custodians,” as his priority was documents from thirty years ago when he was investigating what Exxon “knew.” Again, from the letter:

“The Attorney General faults ExxonMobil for not making a substantial production of documents from the Management Committee Custodians until the end of 2016 […] the Attorney General repeatedly instructed ExxonMobil to place the production of other custodians ahead of the Management Committee Custodians. In accordance with the Attorney General’s priorities and initial investigative thesis, ExxonMobil first produced over 109,000 documents from four custodians who studied climate science […] ” When these documents evidently refuted his investigative theory, the Attorney General informed ExxonMobil that his new “priority” was documents from certain enumerated custodians who contributed to the preparation of a 2014 report entitled “Energy and Carbon – Managing the Risks,” and those on ExxonMobil’s greenhouse gas issue management team. (Email from M. Wagner to P. Conlon, dated Feb. 3, 2016.) In those instructions, the Attorney General expressly stated that review of the custodial files of senior managers, such as Mr. Tillerson, was a secondary priority.” (emphasis added)

As the letter further explains,

The documents of the Management Committee Custodians became a priority for the Attorney General only after this Court rebuffed his efforts to obtain documents outside the scope of the subpoena, during a November 21, 2016 court appearance.” (emphasis added)

All of this boils down to the fact that it’s been nearly one year since Schneiderman hosted his March 29th press conference with Al Gore where the Democratic AGs touted their investigations of ExxonMobil. They have nothing to show for it – but if one thing has become clear throughout this process, they’ve certainly got a lot to hide.

Link to blog post: https://energyindepth.org/national/schneiderman-continues-media-strategy-in-court-hearing-with-meaningless-bombshell-claim/

77 thoughts on “#ExxonKnew and Schneiderman get hoisted by their own petard

  1. One of the great mysteries of life is how people like Eric Schneiderman can look themselves in the mirror each morning. (He certainly doesn’t see what most of us see; that’s obvious.)

    • Replace ‘mirror’ with ‘window’ and you get this:

      Scrooge followed to the window: desperate in his curiosity. He looked out.

      The air was filled with phantoms, wandering hither and thither in restless haste, and moaning as they went. Every one of them wore chains like Marley’s Ghost; some few (they might be guilty governments) were linked together; none were free. Many had been personally known to Scrooge in their lives. He had been quite familiar with one old ghost in a white waistcoat, with a monstrous iron safe attached to its ankle, who cried piteously at being unable to assist a wretched woman with an infant, whom it saw below upon a doorstep. The misery with them all was clearly, that they sought to interfere, for good, in human matters, and had lost the power for ever.

    • A weasel has no problem looking at himself in a mirror. Schneiderman should have been retired to the mafia boneyard in New Jersey years ago.

    • He looks in the mirror and sees a future governor of New York, like Cuomo or Spitzer. But if he continues in the same manner as he has been going, he will look more like Spitzer with all of his scandals (Client 9, anyone?).

    • I recommend that you view the series “Billions”. Check out the character played by Paul Giamani, Chuck Choate (the US Attorney for the Southern District of NY). Dirty pool all day long.

  2. My though is wondering whether RICO or the KuKluxKlan acts are more appropriate in dealing with Schneiderman and associates.

  3. Exxon knew:
    – that they were providing a valuable product that consumers endorse by continuing purchases at market prices, without which modern life would be far less agreeable and much shorter.
    – that the democratic attorney general was on a politically motivated fishing expedition, egged on by environmental activists and wealthy democratic donors, with no probable cause to suspect illegal activity on the part of Exxon.
    – that the theory of anthropogenic, CO-2-induced, dangerous global warming was not then and is not now supported by any hard observational evidence.
    – that they would not be given a fair hearing in the liberal press no matter how compelling the evidence of corporate integrity.
    Exxon knew!

    • And the biggest problem is that you and I are paying for both sides in this saga. It is no wonder these cases last for years and years.

      • asybot, proper accounting rules would charge this to OAG. Oil companies are price takers and the price is low so it just robs off the bottom line. To bad Obama hadn’t promoted Schneiderman to Federal Court where Trump could boot him out and thank him for his snivel service..

      • Trump (nor just the Republicans) can’t just “boot out” Federal judges.

        Technically, the president is uninvolved. A siplemajority to impeach is required in the House; a constitutionally-mandated 2/3rds vote is required in the Senate (Harry Reid can’t change this supermajority).

      • Actually, for Article III courts, the President, via the Attorney General or the Congress can initiate removal on the grounds of bad behavior. See Article III Section 1: “The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The judges, both of the supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behaviour, and shall, at stated times, receive for their services, a compensation, which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office.”. Congress would then, if initiated by a petition of the President, begin the proceedings, if I am reading this correctly.

    • There is nothing democratic about those Democrats, or the Democrat party, for that matter. (I believe that that trope was William Buckley’s)

  4. It saddens me that Exxon is cooperating as well as they are. Even thought they have nothing to hide, they should be fighting in court, tooth and nail, to prevent this unconstitutional (IMO) fishing expedition.

    • This is a consequence of the Obama administrations over zealous pursuit of regulation, especially with regard to the production of energy. If Exxon was obstinate, it would provided false cause for the political leadership to further regulate Exxon’s primary business which would in turn, harm their shareholders. We’ve seen this a lot among major corporation who give lip service to green interests in order to avoid political consequences that could harm their investors. It’s part of their fiduciary responsibility to shareholders. I suspect this will change with the Trump administration in place, but it will take time.

    • Resist, but fighting too hard just makes one look guilty. A much better tactic, one used today by most large corporations, is to respond to discovery requests with tens of millions of pages of responses. (quite literally) Almost all of these will be the ordinary office memos, but when in doubt, produce. It will take those who sought the documents tens of thousands of man hours to search through them all. Some automated software can be used for the task, but it has its flaws too.

      • @wws as I commented before you and I are paying for it one way (taxes) or the other in fuel costs, Of which the government collects taxes and the oil companies get their revenue. It is a win win for them but not for us.!

      • In my opinion, the primary purpose for the legal system is to provide a lucrative income for lawyers.
        Everything else is secondary.

      • asybot: Retail prices are set by the market independent of the manufacturer’s costs. The shareholders are the ones being stuck. Econ101.

      • texasjimbrock, ,If the Retail prices are set by the market then why is it that the gas prices ( here in Canada anyways) are the same on every corner of the street, is that the same in other countries like the US? If there was competition we would see gas wars. And we haven’t seen any of those for decades. ( econ 100)

      • Where I am, gas prices are set by the government. Within the upper and lower bounds the government sets, prices are somewhat variable. Gas price wars are not allowed. That said, there is almost always a few cents per gallon difference, some of which is differential taxes and some is differential wholesale prices due to differential sources.

    • Eeeeeevil Exxon is far more transparent than the Obama Admin was…and far more transparent than climate scientists in general are, even those working on the public dime/

    • There are many cross currents but in a deeper way the whole targeting of Exxon is a farce and total Greenshirt hypocrisy. Exxon has been paying greenmail to greens for decades. They pander and appease all the time to these groups for very complex reasons.

      One thing is certain, Exxon also benefits from the artificial supply constraint both climate and more general green regulations create. If something increases the basic commodities price even through political means Exxon profits are increased not reduced. It isn’t a conspiracy invention but none of this hurts Exxon in anyway. It’s ironic and amazing the idiotic policy of raising energy prices to help green energy become viable under the Obama design was never called out by internal supporters ever. It’s the same policy that only strengthened oil and gas interests they swear they are in existential conflict with all the time. You can’t fix this much stupid.

      Exxon plays kiss in the ring all the way to the bank while pandering to climate junk science all the while. Can any of those three million pages quantify anything with out “may” or “might” all over the pages? It’s all a paranoid green fantasy and Exxon handwaving exercise for decades.

  5. Millions of dollars being spent over ‘much ado about nothing’…..
    Unfortunately, this is the favored shakedown tactic of the socialist democrats.

  6. Changing the theory of the case 3 times in one year shows this dishonest fishing expedition for what it is. Not to mention violation of public records laws and suborning lies.

    • Possible charges of criminal conspiracy & malicious prosecution. Schneiderman will be lucky if he doesn’t end up in prison.

      • As far as I know there has been no prosecution, but I would have thought that the line had been crossed by now for criminal harassment as well as abuse of his office.I would love to see Exxon take down this smug,conniving and abusive bully. His goal is higher office and more personal power.Just imagine what he would do with it.

      • The problem is that judges are always former lawyers and quite often friends or acquaintances of the lawyers.
        At lower levels where judges are either appointed by politicians or face the voters for re-election, it is in the judges best interest to stay on the good side of the lawyers, since the lawyers either are the politicians or finance them, also the lawyers are the biggest source of campaign revenue for judges seeking re-election.

        Thus, it is not in the judges interest to upset the apple cart that is making all of them rich.

    • There seems to be a decline of ethical standards in Justice system in the United States:
      “The Attorney General is hereby ordered to inform this Court within sixty (60) days of what steps she is taking to ensure that the Office of Professional Responsibility effectively polices the conduct of the Justice Department lawyers and appropriately disciplines those whose actions fall below the standards that the American people rightfully expect from their Department of Justice.”
      STATE OF TEXAS, et al., versus UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, et. al. – Court order

      That court order is well worth a read. Here is my summary for those who are short of time.

  7. So the climate models can’t be used to isolate effects of increased CO2. The human emissions of CO2 can’t be shown to be the cause of the increased CO2 in the atmosphere. The uncertainty in the heat flux is 10 times the hypothesized effect of increased CO2, and nothing unusual is occurring in our climates.

    Mr. Schniderman is implying that Mr. Tillerman knew back then more than the currant science can show. Is there any way the defendants can demand that the plaintiff demonstrate the “facts” they are accusing the defendant of obscuring.?

  8. This helps explain how NY could allow the loss of billions in its public pensions through waste, fraud, and abuse in the the backyard of a great financial center. The AG has been busy pursuing other scams in political climate while allowing for long drawn out scams to continue in public finance.

    • I forget where it was (maybe it was here at WUWT) that I read someone mention elected officials being utterly incompetent and unable to solve real world problems in their own areas yet spend inordinate amounts of time and (other people’s) money posturing and posing about nebulous wicked “problems” like ClimateChange™.

  9. Background info. re:

    …. the judge made it very clear that a letter written on behalf of Exxon addressed many of Schneiderman’s accusations, {The Attorney General should have complied with this Court’s rules and made a bona fide effort to pursue consultation … . Letter.}

    This is how a judge of the Neil Gorsuch type, i.e., a judge of integrity, would address this issue:

    “Meet and Confer” Rules

    Fed R. Civ. P. 26(c)(1)
    Protective Orders.

    In General. A party or any person from {whom} discover{y} is sought may move for a protective order in the court where the action is pending *** The motion must include a certification that the movant has in good faith
    conferred or attempted to confer with other affected parties in an effort to resolve the dispute without court action. * * *

    Fed R. Civ. P.37(a)(1):
    Motion for an Order Compelling Disclosure or Discovery.

    In General. On notice to other parties and all affected persons, a party may move for an order compelling disclosure or discovery. The motion must include a certification that the movant has in good faith conferred or attempted to confer with the person or party failing to make disclosure or discovery in an effort to obtain it without court action.

    Local Rule 27-7(b): {comparable to Federal Rule} ***

    Upon review of the Defendants’ “Motion to Deem Requests for Admissions Admitted,” the court finds no mention of any efforts to comply with Local Rule 26-7(b) with respect to that motion.

    {Here, if only hours’ notice was, indeed, given to Exxon, that will not satisfy “meet and confer”}

    {Note: Ignore, below, who is the Defendant/Plaintiff and just focus on the moving or responding (to the Motion) party}

    Defendants state: “Defendants tried to resolve the issue with the Plaintiffs prior to filing this Motion”; … {and} attempted in good faith to resolve the matter without court action, but . . . it has become necessary for the Defendants to file this Motion.”

    However, Defendants fail to specify with whom, when, or how the parties attempted to

    personally and meaningfully

    discuss the discovery dispute. As explained below, that does not constitute compliance with Local Rule 26-7.

    This case is nearly factually identical to Shuffle Master, Inc., supra. There, the court held the movant failed to satisfy the meet and confer requirements of former Rule 37(a)(2)(B) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“FRCP”), which required a party bringing a motion to compel discovery to “include with the motion a certification that the movant has in good faith conferred or attempted to confer with the nonresponsive party.” See Shuffle Master, Inc., 170 F.R.D. at 170 1 (citing FED. R. CIV. P. 37(a)(2)(B)) (emphasis deleted). ***

    In Shuffle Master, Inc., movant’s attempts to comply with FRCP 37’s meet and confer requirements involved transmission of demand letters by fax and one telephone call to inform the plaintiff that the plaintiff’s discovery responses were incomplete. Id. The court concluded these efforts did not constitute compliance with FRCP 37. Id. The court explained “good faith cannot be shown merely through the perfunctory parroting of statutory language on the certificate to secure court intervention; rather it mandates a genuine attempt to resolve the discovery dispute through non-judicial means.” Id. at 171. The court stated a satisfactory meet and confer must entail “a personal or telephonic consultation during which the parties engage in meaningful negotiations or otherwise provide legal support for their position.” Id. at 172.

    Consequently, the court finds Defendants’ legal counsel has failed to confer or attempt to confer in good faith with Plaintiff’s counsel in an effort to secure discovery. As the court stated in Shuffle Master, Inc., “[Defendant]’s lack of good faith [or sincerity] is evident, not in the unreasonableness of its position, but rather by the inadequate means through which its counsel attempted to confer.” Id.

    Accordingly, the court concludes Defendants have failed to comply with Local Rule 26-7(b).

    (Source: http://www.usdistrictcourtconferencenv.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/2013-conference-material-meet-and-confer-rules.pdf (at pages 1, 2 )

    Let’s hope the judge finds for Exxon on this issue AND imposes sanctions and also fees and costs to Exxon.

    Let’s hope the taxpayers of New York finally get their “Sick and tired of this waste of our $$ — enough already!” communicated loudly and effectively!

    • JM. You cite federal rules of civil procedure. It may be that NY is similar (from the guest post it appears so, dunno) but Scheiderman is using the NY Martin Act in NY state courts.

      • MOST state and local rules (as in the above-cited case example) mirror the federal rules of civil procedure. Just FYI (for others, I realize you know this, who may not realize that your concern, while legitimate, is not likely to be a problem, here).

  10. Schneiderman is helping define the flaws in the legal system. I suppose that can be counted as a public service but not in a good way for job performance. But then it is NY where the standards are just about nil for competency and integrity.

  11. Whatever it takes to be seen as the leader of the pack. There’s a reason why the National Association of Attorneys General (N.A.A.G.) is known among political junkies as the “National Association of Aspiring Governors.”

  12. Whoa guys, take it easy on Schneiderman. He’s saving the world, what difference do a few petty, arcane rules regarding some technical minutiae of an obscure legal process make by comparison to that?

    • Yes, thank you. The entire kerfluffel concerning “Exxon knew” is ludicrous. What did they know?

      With a mechanical engineering degree and extensive study of the physics of the atmosphere, I have concluded that no one knows. The so-called Climate Sensitivity cannot be calculated.

      Some facts: Earth’s surface radiates, duh. Atmosphere is completely opaque to 15-micron Outgoing Longwave IR within 3 meters of the surface, duh. This means that the effect of CO2 is NOT “logarithmic,” duh. At the Top of Atmosphere, additional CO2 raises the altitude at which the atmosphere can freely radiate to space, thus decreasing the temperature at which the atmosphere freely radiates to space, thus decreasing flux to space, thus increasing the energy retained in the atmosphere. Guess what? NO ONE can calculate HOW MUCH!!!

  13. The behavior of the Dem AGs, the brainwashing and scaring of children, the post on the fony Medical Association dispensing pamphlets for doctors to advise patients on climate change and their health, etc…. Are there not enough Democrats of integrity left to cry foul on all this underhanded deception? They even use a URL with ‘republicen’ in it to deceive! With no hue and cry from Democrats who find these subversive ends justifying the means tactics egregious makes a lot more than the perpetrators very ugly people. Doesn’t the vote tell these miscreants that they had better change their ways. How are we going to solve the problem of the ignorance and the lipstick on a pig point of view that has been cultivated in this ideology. I argue with people that the party they think they are following doesn’t exist anymore liberals and soci@ists. Ironically, looking after the poor and the worker has devolved to Republicans. Also, the left has taken ownership of CAGW . This will keep it alive longer with these tricksters but the endgame isn’t pretty for them.

    • The difference is that the left, while saying they care about the poor has always pursued policies that wind up hurting the poor.
      The right on the other hand is interested in growing the economy, and in the end, that’s the only thing that will ever help the poor.

      • Exactly MarkW. You *cannot* help a ‘poor’ man by harming a ‘rich’ one. A ‘poor’ man, who actually isn’t poor because he is productive, makes himself ‘rich’ by providing other ‘poor’ men with things that make their lives better in their own eyes at prices they decide that they can afford, at that time and place.

  14. Looks like another lot of dodgy buggers who firmly believed the polls that said Trump wasn’t even going to get the nomination, never mind win the Presidential election.

    Big mistake…

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