September 14, 2016

Statement: In support of Attorney General investigation of Exxon in advance of Lamar Smith congressional hearing

My name is Jesse Bragg and I’m with Corporate Accountability International– a human rights NGO that, for more than 20 years has led a movement to rein in the power and undue influence of Big Tobacco on democracies around the world. Now we’re building a global movement to cast the fossil fuel industry out of our democracies at the national level and at the UN climate treaty.

This hearing is a distraction, nothing more than a charade, brought to you by ExxonMobil. Instead of seeking to find truth, this hearing seeks only to help bury it, but interfering in the investigations that Attorneys General have  launched.

Look no further than Rep. Smith’s campaign funding for evidence– few-if any- member of congress is more beholden to Big Oil–especially ExxonMobil–than Mr. Smith. [As has been mentioned,] Mr. Smith has accepted almost $700,000 in campaign funding from the fossil fuel industry and more than $24,000 from Exxon alone.

His staff have gone on fossil fuel industry junkets, including one paid for by a subsidiary of ExxonMobil. And some his former staff have gone on to work for the US Chamber of Commerce and PR firms with close ties to ExxonMobil.

If that weren’t bad enough, let’s talk for a moment about the rest of the committee. The 13 committee members–including Smith–that are leading this investigation, have accepted a combined $3.4 million from the fossil fuel industry. And, every single one of them has taken money from Exxon… to the tune of more than $85,000 in the last decade alone.

In truth, identifying all the links between this committee and the fossil fuel industry is like cleaning up an oil spill–just when you think you’re done you find another drop of oil.

If this hearing will prove anything it will be this: ExxonMobil is running scared. Why else would they resort to such a transparent and desperate tactic?

Most importantly, this hearing is an disturbing example of our government working for corporations instead of the American people. In the 90’s during the movement to rein in Big Tobacco, we confronted some of the same chicanery and political coziness that we see now between Exxon and Congress.

But thanks in part to the  determination and drive of our Attorney General’s, we were able to completely change how they are able to do business. Now with AG Schneiderman and Healey leading the way, it’s time to do the same with Big Oil, starting first by investigating what Exxon knew.


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