Tom Steyer Changes His Tune, Runs for the Exits on #ExxonKnew
Strong support for NH joining the #ExxonKnew investigation.
— NextGen Climate NH (@NextGen_NH) April 21, 2016
As the #ExxonKnew campaign completely collapses around New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, and as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) steps in on the heels of his disastrous campaign, Tom Steyer is now completely changing his tune and running as far away as he can from #ExxonKnew.
As Politico’s Morning Energy reports:
Staying out of Exxon probe: Steyer also insisted he isn’t playing a central role in the face-off against ExxonMobil over allegations that it misled the public and its investors about internal research detailing the threat of climate change. Despite a New York Post report that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s staff tried to reach out to Steyer over the AG’s investigation into the company, Steyer said he’s largely staying out of the Exxon fight. “We’re definitely not pushing this thing,” he said, adding, “We are not part of this effort.” (emphasis added)
For Steyer to say “we are not part of the effort,” is a huge departure considering that back in April, Steyer’s group, NextGen Climate, hosted and funded an ultimately unsuccessful rally demanding New Hampshire Attorney General Joseph Foster launch his own investigation into Exxon. Now, as the Free Beacon reports today, that section of the NextGen website has conveniently disappeared:
NextGen’s New Hampshire arm held a rally in April explicitly billed as an effort to advance Schneiderman’s anti-Exxon legal campaign.
The purpose of the rally was to convince New Hampshire Attorney General Joseph Foster “to join the investigation of Exxon Mobil and find the truth about whether Exxon Mobil intentionally misled the public about the risk climate change and fossil fuels pose to our communities,” according to a page on its website.
That page no longer exists, though social media postings promoting and quoting from it remain. NextGen New Hampshire’s Twitter account promoted it with the hashtag #ExxonKnew, which has become the unofficial slogan of efforts to bring criminal or civil charges against the company. (emphasis added)
The Free Beacon also notes,
NextGen targeted Sen. Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire, calling on the vulnerable Republican incumbent “to push for Senate investigation into #ExxonKnew.” That page no longer appears on its website. (emphasis added)
Also interesting: the #ExxonKnew Facebook page is producing ads in which NextGen features prominently:
But oddly, when you click on the participating groups section on its website – http://exxonknew.org/ – NextGen is nowhere to be found:
There are still a few remnants of #ExxonKnew on the NextGen website, though: its petition to “Tell Senator Portman: Support an investigation of Exxon’s climate science cover-up” is still there. And let’s not forget that Steyer personally signed a letter spearheaded by 350.org calling on the Department of Justice to launch a RICO case against Exxon.
On top of all that, the New York Post recently reported Steyer’s office was contacted by Schneiderman to see if he would fund his campaign for governor in light of his #ExxonKnew investigation. As the Post puts it,
In March 2016, four months after announcing the Exxon probe, the Democratic AG tried to arrange a phone meeting with hedge-fund mogul Tom Steyer, an environmental activist and Exxon enemy.
“Eric Schneiderman would like to have a call with Tom regarding support for his race for governor . . . regarding Exxon case,” reads the March 10 e-mail.
The Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal), which released these documents, also noted that the emails show that NextGen had been working closely with the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) to attack “climate deniers” amid Schneiderman’s #ExxonKnew investigation.
All of this comes to light at a time when Steyer is pouring millions of dollars into Democratic campaigns across the country, including the Senate campaign of Kamala Harris, who previously hinted at, but never announced, an investigation of Exxon.
It also comes after news that the attorneys general in Schneiderman’s climate coalition called him a “wild card” and said being associated with his investigation made them “nervous.” If Schneiderman doesn’t already feel pretty lonely as #ExxonKnew completely collapses, with Steyer running for the hills, we’re willing to bet he does now.