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Hullabaloo


Thursday, October 22, 2015

 
Sanders Requests Fraud Investigation by Attorney General Lynch into Exxon

by Gaius Publius


Senator Sanders to Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Exxon:
"We are writing regarding a potential instance of corporate fraud - behavior that may qualify as a violation of federal law."
And that's how it's done.


Bernie Sanders, from his Senate office, has asked Attorney General Loretta Lynch to "form a taskforce by December 19, 2015, to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to launch an official inquiry against any actors and entities involved." Why? Because of "a potential instance of corporate fraud – behavior that may ultimately qualify as a violation of federal law."

Sanders cites the Inside Climate News stories we've been following here and here. If the taskforce he asks for does determine there is sufficient evidence to launch an inquiry, we're in RICO territory.

I should add that the O'Malley campaign has also signaled it's onboard with RICO as well (via Twitter). This is much more forceful, though both are helpful. Thanks to both candidates for their strong pro-climate efforts.

The Sanders press release is here. The letter is here and reprinted below. The trove of Exxon documents published by Inside Climate News is here.

October 20, 2015

The Honorable Loretta Lynch
Attorney General of the United States
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001

Dear Attorney General Loretta Lynch:

I am writing concerning a potential instance of corporate fraud – behavior that may ultimately qualify as a violation of federal law. I respectfully request the Department investigate these allegations, and take appropriate action if the investigation yields evidence of wrongdoing.

According to an eight-month investigation by journalists at Inside Climate News, Exxon – now ExxonMobil – may have conducted extensive research on climate change as early as 1977. As a result, it appears that top Exxon scientists concluded both that climate change is real and that it was caused in part by the carbon pollution resulting from use of Exxon’s petroleum-based products. In addition, the purported internal business memoranda accompanying the news report asserted that Exxon’s so-called “climate research program” was launched in response to a perceived existential threat to its business model.

In 1998, the New York Times reported that Exxon participated in the American Petroleum Institute’s Global Climate Science Communications Plan, an effort aimed at stressing “uncertainty” on climate science. Exxon has since contributed more than $31 million since 1998 to think tanks and organizations that cast doubt on mainstream climate science.

These reports, if true, raise serious allegations of a misinformation campaign that may have caused public harm similar to the tobacco industry’s actions – conduct that led to federal racketeering convictions. Based on available public information, it appears that Exxon knew its product was causing harm to the public, and spent millions of dollars to obfuscate the facts in the public discourse. The information that has come to light about Exxon’s past activities raises potentially serious concerns that should be investigated.

I am heartened that, according to your September 9, 2015, memorandum “[f]ighting corporate fraud and other misconduct is a top priority of the Department of Justice.” I request that the Department form a taskforce by December 19, 2015, to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to launch an official inquiry against any actors and entities involved. I look forward to hearing the Department’s recommendations in a timely manner.

Thank you for your time and close consideration of this matter.

Sincerely,

Bernard Sanders
United States Senator

Bold moves like this are what we need. Next up? Ask what Hillary Clinton thinks. If she agrees with Sanders and O'Malley, we have a trifecta.

If you want to sign a petition asking the government to prosecute Exxon, go here.

And if you'd like to say thank you to Bernie Sanders for this excellent advocacy of the people's interest, you can do so here. Adjust the split any way you like at the link.

(A version of this piece appeared at Down With Tyranny. GP article archive here.)

GP


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