Eric Schneiderman and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Witch Hunt

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman can’t seem to catch a break in his pursuit of a case against ExxonMobil for … well, for anything.

The future looked bright for Schneiderman on March 29 when he held a news conference to announce an “unprecedented coalition of top law enforcement officials committed to aggressively … combatting climate change.” The event featured Vice President Al Gore and more than a dozen of the 17 state attorneys general who ostensibly signed up for a multi-state investigation into what “Exxon knew” about anthropogenic climate change.

Specifically, the 17 AG’s were “exploring working together on key climate change-related initiatives, such as ongoing and potential investigations into whether fossil fuel companies misled investors and the public on the impact of climate change on their businesses,” Schneiderman said.

But when his “investigation” started to look more like a witch hunt and several AG’s quietly bowed out, Schneiderman quickly shifted his focus from what Exxon knew in the past to what Exxon knows about the future.

In an example of unbridled hubris, he told the New York Times in August that this had been his plan all along and that people simply “misconstrued” his original intentions. “The older stuff really is just important to establish knowledge and the framework and to look for inconsistencies,” he said.

Things took an even uglier turn last month when senior executives from the Rockefeller Family Fund (RFF) and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) went on a prophylactic media tour to acknowledge that they not only funded the #ExxonKnew campaign and the investigative “journalism” that precipitated it, they also personally lobbied Schneiderman and other state officials to launch their own investigations into what “Exxon knew.”

This directly contradicted the activist storyline that Schneiderman decided to act after reading the (Rockefeller funded) InsideClimate News and Columbia School of Journalism “exposes” on ExxonMobil. According to this enlightening blog post by Energy in Depth’s Katie Brown, while “the recent admissions by the Rockefellers may be an attempt to blunt the impact of the scandal and reveal their collusion on their own terms,” they are not helping Schneiderman or Massachusetts AG Maura Healey, “who suddenly find themselves in serious legal trouble.”

And if all of that weren’t enough, President-elect Donald Trump’s has just selected ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State. If Tillerson is confirmed by the Senate, Attorney General Schneiderman will have to seriously rethink his witch hunt against ExxonMobil.