Discovery order issued to Healey in ExxonMobil probe
By Evan Lips | October 14, 2016, 6:09 EST
DALLAS — A federal judge in Texas issued a discovery order Thursday to Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, a move that means the Bay State’s top prosecutor is now forced to fork over copies of correspondence and other internal records related to her bid to prove ExxonMobil knew about climate change science as far back as 1976.
In issuing his order, U.S. District Court Judge Ed Kinkeade wrote that “Attorney General Healey’s actions leading up to the issuance of the CID (criminal investigation demand) causes the Court concern and presents the Court with the question of whether Attorney General Healey issued the CID with bias or prejudgment about what the investigation of Exxon would discover.”
Ian T. Jeffers, media relations manager for ExxonMobil, described Healey’s investigation as “part of an orchestrated campaign against our company that is without legal merit.”
Kinkeade referenced Healey’s trip to New York City in late March to join up with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in announcing an investigation into Exxon’s practices.
“Notable, the morning before the AGs United for Clean Power Press Conference, Attorney General Healey and other attorneys general allegedly attended a closed door meeting,” Kinkeade wrote. “At the meeting, Attorney General Healey and the other attorneys general listened to presentations from a global warming activist and an environmental attorney that has a well-known global warming litigation practice.
“Both presenters allegedly discussed the importance of taking action in the fight against climate change and engaging in global warming litigation.”
Kinkeade also referenced communications between the environmental attorney activist and Schneiderman’s office. The activist was reportedly contacted by a Wall Street Journal reporter and queried about the closed door meeting. According to Kinkeade’s ruling, Schneiderman told the activist “‘to not confirm that [he] attended or otherwise discuss’ the meeting he had with the attorneys general the morning before the press conference.”
Kinkeade cited Healey’s remarks at the press conference and subsequent issuance in April of the CID.
“The Court finds the allegations about Attorney General Healey and the anticipatory nature of Attorney General Healey’s remarks about the outcome of the Exxon investigation to be concerning to this Court,” Kinkeade wrote. “The foregoing allegations about Attorney General Healey, if true, may constitute bad faith in issuing the CID.
“Attorney General Healey’s comments and actions before she issued the CID require the Court to request further information so that it can make a more thoughtful determination about whether this lawsuit should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.”
Kinkeade has not yet ruled on the matter at hand in Texas — Exxon’s motion for a preliminary injunction. Rather, he announced that he will await the results of discovery from both Healey and Exxon before ruling.
Read a copy of the order: