USA Today reports on the subpoena that was sent to CEI as an attempt to silence the climate change debate.
This investigation, which smacks of Wisconsin’s discredited Putin-style legal assault on conservative groups and their contributors, was denounced by the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Hans Bader as unconstitutional. Bader wrote:
Should government officials be able to cut off donations to groups because they employ people disparaged as “climate change deniers?” … Only a single-issue zealot with ideological blinders and a contempt for the First Amendment would think so. …
The First Amendment has long been interpreted as protecting corporate lobbying and donations, even to groups that allegedly deceive the public about important issues. … So even if being a “climate denier” were a crime (rather than constitutionally protected speech, as it in fact is), a donation to a non-profit that employs such a person would not be.
Nope, but conspiring to deprive “deniers” of their free speech rights would be. As Bloomberg’s Megan McArdle noted: “They threw the word ‘fraud’ around a lot. But the more they talked about it, the more it became clear that what they meant by ‘fraud’ was ‘advocating for policies that the attorneys general disagreed with.’”
But here’s what happened next: After Bader’s critique, Walker, the U.S. Virgin Islands attorney general, subpoenaed the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s donor lists. The purpose of this subpoena is, it seems quite clear, to punish CEI by making people less willing to donate.
Read the full article at USA Today.