House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) on 6th July sent follow-up letters to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Massachusetts AG Maura Healey, and eight private organizations regarding the committee’s investigation of “co-ordinated attempts to deprive companies, non-profit organizations, and scientists of their First Amendment rights and ability to fund and conduct scientific research free from intimidation and threats of prosecution.” Chairman Smith concludes that if documents relevant to his investigation are not turned over, “the Committee will consider use of compulsory process”—that is, subpoenas.
The letters to the Attorneys General are worth reading for the explanation given of the Congress’s constitutional authority to investigate the AGs’ conspiracy and of the Science Committee’s specific responsibility “in ensuring that all scientists, especially those conducting taxpayer-funded research, have the freedom to pursue any and all legitimate avenues of inquiry, including those that may be in conflict with and/or rebut the findings proposed by various institutions.” The Science Committee oversees federal research funding of roughly $40 billion each year.
The eight letters to private organizations are addressed to the attorneys representing the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), 350.org, Greenpeace, Climate Accountability Institute (CAI), Climate Reality Project, Rockefeller Family Fund, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the Pawa Law Group. Documents released as a result of FOIA requests have revealed that all eight groups are participating in the conspiracy led by AG Schneiderman to violate the constitutional rights of approximately 90 groups and over 50 individuals (which list includes CEI and me).
I find Chairman Smith’s claim that the Committee has the authority to compel these eight private organizations to comply with his requests much less persuasive than the case he makes to the Attorneys General. But let me summarize part of Smith’s argument. He points out that several individuals from these groups spoke at a forum held by the House Progressive Caucus on 22nd June. Smith’s letter then notes that: “During the forum, Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY) asked: ‘Have any of you had interactions with any of the AGs?’ Both Dr. Oreskes of CAI and Ms. Mulvey of UCS responded in a candid and forthcoming manner about the assistance and information that their organizations have provided to the attorneys general investigating companies, scientists, and non-profit groups.”
Smith’s letter continues: “It appears that your clients’ affiliates have no First Amendment concerns providing information to Members of the House Progressive Caucus; yet, continually and improperly refuse to provide any information to this Committee.”