Free Markets, Free People

The Alarmists try RICO, the “deniers” counter with SLAPP

I’m sure you’ve been following this bizarre story about the left’s attempt, through various blue Attorney’s General, to use the RICO statute to persecute prosecute so-called “climate deniers”.  One of the targets was the Competitive Enterprise Institute.  CEI wasn’t going to take it lying down and punched back:

A libertarian nonprofit group is seeking damages from the U.S. Virgin Islands’ chief law enforcement officer, alleging a politically motivated legal campaign designed to stifle the group’s policy advocacy activities.

Attorneys representing the Competitive Enterprise Institute filed a motion in a Washington, D.C. court on Monday alleging that Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Walker violated a D.C. law designed to prevent frivolous legal actions targeting policy groups’ rights to free speech and government redress.

The motion is the latest chapter in a developing legal battle between conservative and industry groups that oppose Democratic attorneys general in 17 states who are pursuing racketeering charges against oil giant Exxon Mobil.

Walker subpoenaed CEI last month as part of the anti-Exxon campaign. He demanded a decade’s worth of internal documents and communications about the group’s work on energy and environmental policy.

CEI told Walker to stuff it and shot back:

Andrew Grossman, a BakerHostetler attorney representing CEI, called the subpoena “offensive,” “unlawful,” and “un-American” in an April reply. He vowed to fight the subpoena, which was filed in D.C., where CEI is headquartered.

An attorney representing a group of AGs, including Walker, in their Exxon probe replied on Friday, telling CEI that it is abandoning its subpoena but reserving the right to restart the effort at any point in the future.In response, Grossman and his BakerHostetler colleague David Rivkin filed a motion to vacate the subpoena entirely. They are also asking the court to reimburse CEI for its legal fees and levy additional penalties on Walker’s office as a means of discouraging abuses of the D.C. legal system.

Walker’s “bad faith purpose in wielding this Court’s power to subpoena … warrants sanctions,” the attorneys wrote in a Monday motion. “Sanctions are necessary here ‘to punish abuses of the judicial process and to deter future abuses,’” they wrote, quoting a prior case involving D.C.’s anti-SLAPP statute.

The acronym SLAPP stands for “strategic lawsuit against public participation,” and refers to efforts to shut down an opposing party’s speech or political advocacy through frivolous lawsuits.

This is what has to be done to stop this foolishness.  All it costs the AG is your tax money.  So, in reality, it cost them nothing.  But the people or organizations they target actually end up having to reach deeply into their own pockets to defend themselves from these frivolous lawsuits.

Here’s hoping CEI is able to whack this nonsense in the head quickly.  As their attorney said, it’s “offensive”, “unlawful” and “un-American.”  It is also an obnoxious and obvious abuse of power.  Time to reel this bunch ideological hitmen back in and do quickly.  And it wouldn’t hurt at all if the lawsuit found some of the AG’s personally responsible and made them pay fines out of their own fund for the abuse of their office (not that it will happen … I understand that, but I guy can wish).  Short of that, running them out of office will suffice.

~McQ

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12 Responses to The Alarmists try RICO, the “deniers” counter with SLAPP

  • Since they have no evidence of, you know, actual criminal wrong doing I’m puzzled as to how they can use the RICO act, which requires that crimes be committed I thought. – But I guess they’re taking a page from the Federal government and are pretending the RICO act permits them to kinda do whatever they want.

    If I was Exxon or any of the other associated groups, I’d be inclined to use whatever obstructive methods most closely parallel the non-responsive responses from the most transparent administration evah.

    • First, you do NOT have to answer discovery requests. You CAN seek a blanket protective order, and you CAN object to specific, abusive questions. Generally, this suspends the whole mess until the motion for protection and/OR the specific objections are ruled upon. The onus is on the requesting party to show that the discovery sought is 1) within the rules (and there are LOTS of rules), and necessary and reasonable given the costs of the requests. OTHERWISE, if you want it badly enough, the courts will flip the script on you and say you have to pay the costs of discovery. SOMETIMES, in a matter like these, the courts will appoint a MASTER to oversee the whole wriggling can of worms, with the MASTER’S costs being borne by one side or the other, or split.

      Discovery disputes are among my most hated things, and courts simply LOATH them.

  • When the party (or parties) requesting discovery are, themselves, office-holders and appear to be acting in their official capacities, there are a number of Constitutional rights which could be implicated in a fight over discovery. The protection of these rights – particularly the exercise of the right implicated most obviously in this case – necessitates a direct response on those grounds immediately, at the earliest point at which they can be made and in the strongest terms possible under the rules. In this case (and all the related ones which are certain to arise), the actions of the various Attorneys-General involved is so outrageous and beyond the lawful scope of their authority as to warrant a petition to their respective legislatures to institute impeachment proceedings against them.

  • This is what has to be done to stop this foolishness.

    —-Lets be real- what’s needed is a real SLAPP (or something stronger) to these AGs.

  • In many ways this is as bad as the John Doe persecutions in WI. Or Lois Lerners actions.

    It won’t be pretty when the bill comes due.

  • I’d be willing to bet if you put a bloodhound on the trail into and out of the various AG offices, it would consistently lead back to the West Wing of the White House.

    • Since we’re talking about racketeering…….

      • See, that’s the interesting thing about the Collective. Everybody knows what to do. Lois Lerner didn’t need a memo from Barracula.

        Now, here, with these AGs, there had to be some modicum of coordination, but that could be as cursory as contacts with some legal academic who wrote a “think-piece” that some of them responded to positively.

        • I mostly suspect that racketeering would be a much more accurate term to describe what’s taking place between the offices of these AGs and their senior Chicago mafia bosses in the West Wing and other global warming thugs.

          They’d have us believe that a memo wasn’t necessary – but I’ll bet a couple of phone calls were, perhaps some mail on unaccountable personal email accounts. See, I don’t think Lois is really all that bright to have instituted it on her own, same for this spontaneous action by these AGs.

          Maybe a little schmoozing at some official functions during quiet conversations…you know conversations that include phrases not unlike “who will rid me of this meddlesome priest!”

    • Gee, wonder why many (myself included) no longer believe in the rule of law?

      Any wonder why many want a strongman of our own in the WH?

      • Oh I completely believe in the new rule of law – which is the people responsible for administering the law will rule as they see fit.

        And the best part of all (“Tell them the best part Mortimer”) is they’ll use YOUR money to rule you till they get what they want!

        • The next redefinition of rule of law that’s on the way won’t be nearly as pleasant I guarantee you.