The New York Supreme Court ordered Exxon Mobil Wednesday to comply with a subpoena from a Democratic attorney general known for crusading against the fossil fuel industry.
The oil company was ordered to turn over documents to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office as a part of a probe determining whether Exxon defrauded the public and shareholders over what it knew about global warming.
The Democratic attorney general’s inquisition is part of a larger effort by several other attorneys general to bring the company to heel for what they sees as duping people.
“We are pleased with the court’s order and look forward to moving full-steam ahead with our fraud investigation of Exxon,” Schneiderman said. “Exxon had no legal basis to interfere with PwC’s production, and I hope that today’s order serves as a wake-up call to Exxon that the best thing they can do is cooperate with, rather than resist, our investigation.”
Exxon withheld documents from Schneiderman under Texas state law, asserting accountant-client privilege. The state supreme court decided its laws trumped Texas law in this case.
The investigation began in 2015 when the New York attorney general launched an investigation into Exxon’s knowledge about global warming. He was “demanding extensive financial records, emails and other documents” from the oil producer dating all the way back to the 1970s.
The subpoenas are a result of a September investigation of the oil company conducted by InsideClimate News, which determined Exxon allegedly played fast and loose for decades with information concerning global warming.
InsideClimate News also alleges that Amoco, Phillips, Texaco, Shell, and others joined Exxon in misleading the public about the supposed effects global warming has on sea levels.
The besieged oil producer argues the probes violate the company’s First Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution. It also refutes the idea it violated the law and claims it promotes carbon taxes as a way to fight man-made global warming.
Legal analysts believe the subpoenas stand on shaky legal ground, as most of the information and documents uncovered are already publicly available.
Courts are also determining whether the probes are politically motivated.
Texas Federal Judge Ed Kinkeade, for one, said he suspected Schneiderman’s colleague, Democratic Massachusetts AG Maura Healey, of acting in “bad faith” when she issued her own subpoena targeting Exxon. She was hoping to acquire the same trove of documents the New York attorney general sought.
The judge also said the investigation has all the earmarks of a political inquisition. The Texas court is still determining whether to toss out Schneiderman’s subpoena.
The subpoena may also be a tool to help the attorney general raise money for a possible gubernatorial run. He received nearly $265,000 in campaign contributions from lawyers and politicians who stand to gain from a legal victor against Exxon.
Liberal billionaire George Soros gave Schneiderman $64,500, while members of the uber-wealthy Rockefeller family have shoveled over more than $10,000 to the New York attorney general since 2004.
Chris White is a contributer for the Daily Caller. This content was provided by the Daily Caller News Foundation