Dem AG Withdraws Subpoena of Libertarian Nonprofit 

U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Walker says his Exxon investigation is not over 

June 30, 2016

A Democratic state attorney general withdrew a subpoena of a libertarian nonprofit group on Thursday, but the group says it still plans to seek damages over what it says was an unlawful attempt to intimidate it into silence.

Claude Walker, the attorney general of the U.S. Virgin Islands, dropped his request for decades of internal documents from the Competitive Enterprise Institute related to its communications with and financial support from oil giant ExxonMobil.

The withdrawal of the subpoena was the latest blow to a 20-state effort by Democratic attorneys general to pursue fraud and racketeering charges against Exxon, which they say lied to shareholders and consumers about the risks of climate change.

Walker withdrew a separate subpoena on Wednesday aimed at gathering information from Exxon itself. Another subpoena, filed by the attorney general of Massachusetts, is currently in abeyance and is not being enforced.

Exxon is reportedly complying with a subpoena filed by New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman, who convened 20 state attorneys general last year for a coordinated legal campaign against the oil company.

CEI was the only third-party group to receive a subpoena as part of that campaign. It hailed Walker’s withdrawal as a win for freedom of speech and association in a statement released Thursday.

"The withdrawal of this subpoena is a victory for all Americans who value the right to support causes they believe in," the group said in its statement.

CEI added that it will continue to seek sanctions against Walker’s office under a DC law that prohibits legal actions designed to censor, intimidate, or harass public critics.

"Walker broke the law when he subpoenaed CEI, and he must be held to account," the group said. "We continue to pursue sanctions against Walker because of his flagrant violation of the First Amendment."

A D.C. court heard arguments on that motion on Tuesday and is expected to issue a decision soon. It could force Walker’s office to pay CEI’s legal fees.

Though Walker never actually brought charges against Exxon, he suggested in a letter to the Wall Street Journal last week that both the oil company and CEI may have broken the law.

Walker’s attorney insisted that the withdrawal of its subpoenas "does not mean that the Virgin Islands has ended its investigation against Exxon," in a letter to CEI’s attorney sent Thursday.

Published under: Exxon