GOP Attorneys General Held Private Meetings with Fossil Fuel Lobbyists on Exxon Investigation

Notes from closed-door meeting reveal collusion between GOP AGs, industry lobbyists to defend ExxonMobil and obstruct climate change legislation

Republican attorneys general held private, undisclosed meetings with fossil fuel industry lobbyists in July to coordinate on shielding ExxonMobil from scrutiny as the company faces an ongoing investigation over allegations that it intentionally misled the public and its own shareholders about evidence of climate change, according to an audio recording of the session obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy.

The meeting occurred at a July 2016 summit hosted by the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) in Colorado, and included representatives from the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), organizations which have previously received substantial funding from Exxon and the fossil fuel industry. At the summit, attorneys general including Luther Strange (R-AL) participated in a panel presentation titled "Climate Change Debate: How Speech is Being Stifled" alongside CEI Director Myron Ebell and AFPM President Chet Thompson.

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This past June, thirteen Republican attorneys—including AG Strange—penned an open letter to their fellow attorneys general in the defense of Exxon and the oil and gas industry. During the discussion, AFPM President Chet Thompson thanked the attorneys general for their 'leadership' and 'support' in the investigations of oil companies, and asked for further assistance in blocking the EPA 'social cost of carbon' disclosure rules for the fossil fuel industry and halting the college divestment campaigns.

The Center for Media and Democracy has previously found that corporations can pay a premium rate RAGA membership fee of up to $125,000 for the privilege of holding private briefings with attorneys general and their staff, as well as attending the annual meeting. The conference provides ample opportunity for attorneys general to directly solicit campaign contributions from corporate representatives during private meetings, informal conversations and leisure activities—like a golf tournament, zip lining, and a tour of the Olympic training center.

According to materials reviewed by CMD, since 2015 RAGA has received at least $100,000 from ExxonMobil, $350,000 from Koch Industries, $85,000 from Southern Company, $378,250 from the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), and $250,000 from Murray Energy. In total, fossil fuel interests, utilities and their trade groups have given more than $2.25 million to RAGA since 2015.

RAGA documents obtained by CMD:

Issue Panel Description Climate Change Debate How Free Speech is Being Stifled

RLDF 2016 Senior Staff Retreat Agenda

RAGA Summer 2016 Meeting Agenda

RLDF Email Correspondence and AG Draft Letter

Nick Surgey

Nick Surgey is a Senior Fellow with the Center for Media and Democracy. His work has been featured in The Guardian, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post.

Comments

It is hard to begin this comment as I find it very difficult to comprehend this stunning display of political and capitalist depravity. Exxon's own scientific body has known of the coming devastating consequences to our planet, from extracting and burning fossil materials - for decades. I'm sure it's safe to assume, all fossil fuel corporations were aware of this critically important information; making them complicit in the diabolical cover up of what must be considered to be the most horrific crime in the history of mankind. Instead of indicting these obvious criminals, Republican attorneys general conspire to aid and protect this enemy of mankind.The GOP attorneys general and ExxonMobil have entirely abandoned their ethics and shed the remaining traces of humanity from their straining DNA. For love of money they have become something other than human.

All of these AGs are members of bar associations and as such are subject to legal ethics which include the avoidance of conflict of interest. I would like to see a concerted effort to lay charges of conflict of interest with each and every bar association that these AGs are members of. Let's have petitions and instructions on how to actually file charges by the public. Let's do it now.