New York AG blames ‘dark money machine’ in Exxon climate fight

New York AG blames ‘dark money machine’ in Exxon climate fight
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New York’s attorney general says a conservative “dark money machine” is helping Exxon Mobil Corp. fight his office over his climate change investigation.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) said Wednesday that conservative groups including Americans for Prosperity, the Heritage Foundation and the Competitive Enterprise Institute are conducting a disinformation campaign against him and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey (D), Politico reported.

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The campaign is meant to further Exxon’s claims that the investigations are politically motivated, trying to shut down free speech and punish those who do not agree with his view of climate change.

“It’s like they pulled a lever on the dark money machine,” he said at an event in New York City, adding that once his investigation became public last year, “60 or 70 op-ed columns or editorials” appeared “attacking me all over America” within weeks, according to Politico.

“The challenge is, in most media markets in the country, all people have heard is the other side of the argument because [the conservative groups’] infrastructure is so remarkable,” Schneiderman said.

Schneiderman and Healey believe Exxon may have committed fraud by downplaying to the public and investors the effects of global warming on the climate and on its business while having different internal knowledge.

“They’re saying this is just a political effort to silence dissenting views on climate change,” Schneiderman said.

He repeated his contention that the First Amendment to the Constitution does not protect fraud.

“The First Amendment is not designed to protect three-card monte dealers,” he said. “You can’t commit fraud and argue, ‘Oh, I’m exercising my First Amendment rights.’ ”

Schneiderman’s comments came days after Exxon asked a Texas federal court to block the New York subpoena.

Last week, Schneiderman filed a court motion in New York to compel PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Exxon’s accounting firm, to turn over certain documents about the company’s finances.