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Mass. Democrats slam GOP chairman’s Exxon probe

Mass. Democrats slam GOP chairman’s Exxon probe
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The Democrats of the Massachusetts congressional delegation have asked a House GOP chairman to end his “damaging and pointless” subpoena of their attorney general, who is conducting an investigation into Exxon Mobil Corp. 

In a letter to House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the members said they have “extreme disappointment” in Smith’s decision to subpoena information from Attorney General Maura Healey, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and eight environmental groups.

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Smith alleges improper coordination between the groups in the states’ probe of Exxon Mobil, which has been accused of hiding the extent of its knowledge of climate change science decades ago. 

The members, led by Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) said the subpoenas “violate the principle of state sovereignty,” are “unprecedented” uses of the Congressional subpoena power and fall outside of the Science Committee’s purview. 

“Congressional subpoenas should not be used as a vehicle for misguided and unconstitutional political tactics that could permanently harm the reputation of this body and undermine states’ ability to carry out necessary functions,” the members — 11 in total — wrote. 

“We urge you to drop this damaging and pointless exercise in Congressional overreach."

Smith in July sent subpoenas to Schneiderman, Healey and the green groups, saying then that it’s “necessary for the committee to issue subpoenas in order for the American people to understand the negative impacts of the actions.” He and Exxon’s backers say the state investigations are an attack on the company’s free speech. 

Democrats have rushed to the defense of the attorneys general. Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThe Memo: The center strikes back Centrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting Democrats have turned solidly against gas tax MORE (D-Mass.) accused Smith of trying to “intimidate” the investigators in a series of tweets to the chairman last month.