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Virgin Islands AG subpoenas records from climate skeptic nonprofit

U.S. Virginia Islands Attorney General Claude Walker has issued a subpoena to the Washington-D.C. based Competitive Enterprise Institute seeking 10 years' worth of documents and donor information relating to the nonprofit's work on climate change.

In March, Walker joined with a group of Democratic state attorneys general seeking investigation whether oil, gas, and coal companies had fraudulently misled their investors and the general public on the risks of global climate change.

In a statement at the group's launch, Walker said the Virgin Islands "has a particular interest in making sure that companies are honest about what they know about climate change."

The Competitive Enterprise Institute has long been skeptical of climate change, and has frequently challenged environmental regulations and the Environmental Protection Agency in court.

In a statement published on its website, CEI general counsel Sam Kazman said the organization "will vigorously fight to quash this subpoena."

“If Walker and his allies succeed," Kazman said, "the real victims will be all Americans, whose access to affordable energy will be hit by one costly regulation after another, while scientific and policy debates are wiped out one subpoena at a time.”

According to CEI, Walker's subpoena seeks "a decade’s worth of communications, emails, statements, drafts, and other documents regarding CEI’s work on climate change and energy policy, including private donor information."

Andrew M. Grossman and David B. Rivkin, Jr. of the Free Speech in Science Project will represent CEI in the matter.

In a March 23rd op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, Grossman and Rivkin compared climate change skeptics with "heretics" facing a government-led "inquisition" aimed at silencing them.

Nonprofit attorney Mark Fitzgibbons told AMI Newswire the legal move against CEI represents a much broader, state-level effort targeting conservative organizations.  "Without doubt, any group that speaks contrary to the dogma of the liberal establishment is at the same risk [as CEI]." 

Fitzgibbons added that the California home of "pro-life filmmaker David Daleiden was searched just this week by California AG Kamala Harris."

Daleiden was a founder of the Irvine, Califorina-based Center for Medical Progress, which produced a series of YouTube videos showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing fees for fetal tissue and body parts.

He faces criminal charges in Houston for altering a driver's license.

Earlier this week, Daleiden said California officials had raided his home, seizing a laptop and several external hard drives.

Fitzgibbons said the raid is indicative of the legal tactics now being used to silence conservatives.

"Second Amendment rights, traditional marriage - you name it, any organization advocating conservative ideals that conflict with liberal dogma, and their donors are at threat of being intimidated and silenced by Democrat AGs," Fitzgibbons said.

He added that seeking donor information, as Walker is in the CEI subpoena, has a long history, going back to "the 1950s when the Democrat Alabama AG [John Patterson] tried to stop the civil rights movement in his state by demanding the names of financial adherents to the NAACP."

Fitzgibbons said "the Supreme Court stopped him in NAACP v. Alabama, which is still law of the land, but the law means nothing to left-wing AGs who wish to silence their ideological opponents."