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Withdrawal of Exxon Subpoena Confirms Unconstitutional Nature of its Attack on CEI

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Late yesterday U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Walker withdrew his subpoena against ExxonMobil. This came only one day after Walker’s D.C. attorney defended his Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) subpoena in D.C. Superior Court, where the public policy organization is seeking attorney fees and other sanctions against the attorney general. This new development further strengthens CEI’s request for court-imposed sanctions on Walker.

"Walker’s subpoenas are a flagrant violation of the First Amendment, and the clear conclusion to draw following his withdrawal of the ExxonMobil subpoena is that these subpoenas were a baseless fishing expedition from the beginning,” said CEI President Kent Lassman. “All Americans have the right to support causes they believe in and the CEI subpoena is an abuse of the legal system and an effort to intimidate and silence individuals who disagree with certain attorneys general on the climate debate. Disagreeing with a government official is not a crime; abusing government power to take away Americans’ rights is."

CEI General Counsel Sam Kazman said, “With the withdrawal of his ExxonMobil subpoena yesterday, Walker’s claim that CEI was supposedly part of his investigation of Exxon is now a nonexistent excuse. The withdrawal of the ExxonMobil subpoena only strengthens our case that Walker’s investigation was a pretext to lash out at his policy opponents. He must be held accountable for the First Amendment injury that he inflicted on CEI, on CEI’s supporters, and on the American public.”

On April 7, 2016, AG Walker subpoenaed CEI, demanding a decade’s worth of communications, emails, and other documents regarding CEI’s work on climate change and energy policy, including private donor information dating from January 1, 1997 to January 1, 2007.

CEI is represented in this matter by attorneys Andrew M. Grossman and David B. Rivkin, Jr., who recently founded the Free Speech in Science Project to defend First Amendment rights against government abuses.

See more from CEI regarding this subpoena effort here.