Pushing back at Healey : Exxon Pushes Texas Court to Shut Down Mass AG Probe

This is important so a reproduction of the entire press release is appropriate!

Exxon Pushes Texas Court To Shut Down Mass. AG Probe

By Jess Davis

Law360, Dallas (August 25, 2016, 2:13 PM ET) — Exxon Mobil Corp. told a Texas federal court Wednesday that Massachusetts’ attorney general can’t dispel First Amendment concerns related to its climate change investigation of the company merely by invoking the word “fraud,” urging the court to enjoin the state’s civil probe.

Doubling down on its argument that a civil investigative demand issued by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is an unconstitutional attack on political speech based on Exxon’s public comments on climate change, the company said Healey had fallen back on platitudes about her power to investigate and prosecute fraud instead of addressing its free speech argument.

Exxon said though Healey correctly pointed out that fraudulent statements aren’t protected by the First Amendment, the AG has not yet offered “more than her say-so” to establish the investigation actually pertains to fraud instead of “the suppression of disfavored speech.”

“This case is not about the legitimate exercise of state law-enforcement power,” Exxon said. “It is about the misuse of government power and the vital role federal courts play in restraining such abuses.”

Exxon in June asked a Texas federal court to block a request from Healey for more than 40 years’ worth of company records related to its knowledge of climate change, blasting her investigation as a burden on its right to political speech and calling the demand an “abusive fishing expedition” that violates its First Amendment rights.

Healey in August moved to dismiss the suit, saying Exxon was already pursuing a challenge to the civil investigative demand in Massachusetts state court, which she argued is the proper venue for the dispute, and called Exxon’s injunction bid “a transparent attempt at forum shopping.”

And she said Texas’ so-called long-arm statute does not give the Texas federal court jurisdiction to reach regulators from other states acting in their official capacities. Healey argued the events giving rise to Exxon’s claim occurred in Massachusetts, not in Texas, where the company is headquartered.

Healey is part of a coalition of several state attorneys general probing the company for possible fraud, as part of an investigation into whether Exxon misled consumers and investors about climate change. Healey’s civil investigative demand, sent to Exxon in April,  requests documents from the company dating back to 1976.

Exxon contends that the attorneys general demonstrated their political motivations at a March press conference announcing the investigations and says Healey’s demand is based on a disagreement with the company about how the U.S. should respond to climate change.

An Exxon spokesman said Thursday that the company doesn’t have comment beyond the filing itself. The Massachusetts AG’s office declined comment.

Exxon Mobil Corp. is represented by Theodore V. Wells Jr., Michele Hirshman, Daniel J. Toal and Justin Anderson of Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP, Ralph H. Duggins and Alix D. Allison of Cantey Hanger LLP, Nina Cortell of Haynes & Boone LLP, and in-house counsel Patrick J. Conlon and Daniel Bolia.

Healey is represented by Douglas Cawley and Richard Kamprath of McKool Smith PC and Richard Johnston, Melissa Hoffer, Christophe Courchesne, Andrew Goldberg and Peter Mulcahy of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office.

The case is Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Healey, case number 4:16-cv-00469, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.

–Additional reporting by Stan Parker. Editing by Patricia K. Cole.

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