ExxonMobil Adds N.Y. Attorney General as Defendant

By DAVID LEE

FORT WORTH (CN) — ExxonMobil can include New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman as a defendant in its lawsuit challenging Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s subpoena of decades of documents about Exxon’s knowledge of climate change, a federal judge ruled.

U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade on Thursday granted ExxonMobil’s motion for leave to file a first amended complaint. ExxonMobil did so hours later, adding Schneiderman as a defendant.

ExxonMobil sued Healey in June after she, Schneiderman and other attorneys general announced they were investigating whether the company committed fraud by misrepresenting its knowledge of climate change in its marketing materials and investor communications. The investigations began after media reports claimed ExxonMobil knew about climate change as early as the 1970s.

In its amended complaint, ExxonMobil says the attorneys general agreed “to use law enforcement powers as a means of promoting a shared political agenda.” Healy and Schneiderman are Democrats.

ExxonMobil called the allegations “a weak pretext for an unlawful exercise of government power to further political objectives” and that they chill the company’s free speech rights.

Kinkeade ruled in October that Healey must show him during jurisdictional discovery that she has no political bias in demanding the records. The judge wrote that Healey’s comments before issuing the civil investigative demands are “concerning” and “may constitute bad faith,” due to U.S. Supreme Court precedent that federal courts abstain from interfering with state judicial proceedings.

Several Republican attorneys general have come to ExxonMobil’s defense in the lawsuit. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on behalf of Texas and 10 other states called Healey’s subpoena an “unconstitutional use of investigative powers,” in a September amicus brief.

In July, Schneiderman and Healey refused to open their investigatory records for House Committee on Science, Space and Technology chairman Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, a climate-change denier.

Healey criticized having to face a subpoena herself for her investigation, calling the House committee’s demands a “blatant attempt to chill” her investigation.