Lamar “McCarthy 2.0” Smith Subpoenas #ExxonKnew Investigators

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This is a guest post by ClimateDenierRoundup

For those still hungry for more #WebofDenial, here’s a quick roundup of the content before getting to the more recent news: the groups accused of working together on climate denial unsurprisingly worked together to deny these accusations in a joint letter, then repeated their false first amendment defense at Heartland and the National Review, and threw up gish gallops at Heritage and CEI. On the other side, Monday’s text-searchable Hill speeches start on page 89 of the Congressional Record, Tuesday’s start on 213.

Videos are up on YouTube for Senators MarkeyBoxerUdallShaheenPeters, and Tim Kaine, while Media Matters has a compilation of speeches by Shatz, Franken, Heinrich and Whitehouse about the #WebofDenial’s media manipulations. Senator Whitehouse was also interviewed at The Nation, and quoted in coverage by Kate Sheppard, while the Senator’s own op-ed about the 100+ opinion pieces attacking the #ExxonKnew campaign was published in CJR.

In the aftermath of this massive two day effort to detail the #WebofDenial, the Chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, Lamar Smith, announced on Wednesday that he was issuing subpoenas for communications between climate denial groups and their fossil fuel funders.

Just kidding! Fossil-fuel funded Lamar Smith did the exact opposite, issuing subpoenas for communications between NGOs and the NY and MA state Attorneys General who are investigating what #ExxonKnew. Smith’s legal authority for this action, which relies on McCarthyism, is not only deeply ironic but doubly unconstitutional. Uninvolved legal experts, consulted by Ben Seal made it clear that Smith faces long odds on successfully getting the documents he seeks, describing the process as “long, tedious and uncertain.” One even said they “couldn’t imagine that any prosecutor’s office would release its internal documents” and since Smith lacks enforcement powers, charging the AGs with contempt of congress “would be a nail without a hammer.”

The NGOs being targeted, The Union of Concerned Scientists, Greenpeace, 350.org, the Climate Accountability Institute, the Climate Reality Project, the Rockefeller Family Fund, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Global Warming Legal Action Project and the Pawa Law Group, responded to Smith with questions of their own, asking him to disclose what communications his office has had with Exxon and other fossil fuel companies.

Speaking of Smith’s campaign funders, Dianna Wray discussed Smith’s love for subpoenas at the Houston Press on Monday, with quotes from Rep. Bernice Johnson about the unprecedented nature of Smith’s “prolific, aimless and jurisdictionally questionable oversight activities.” The article ends with a brilliant rhetorical question, asking how many climate subpoenas Smith will issue by the time he goes up for re-election in November. This begs the question of how much campaign financing Smith gets for his “prolific” defense of the fossil fuel industry.  

Because whether or not he’s “a nail without a hammer,” it’s pretty clear the man is a tool.

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