Why Does Minnesota’s A.G. Want to Silence Critics?

It’s not every day a state’s top prosecutor faces accusations of potential “abuse of prosecutorial discretion” and questions over “the integrity of your office.”

But Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson has a lot of explaining to do and documents to turn over, according to a congressional committee investigating her role as a member of the so-called Green 20.

That’s the group of state attorneys general who recently hooked up with former Vice President Al Gore to launch a multi-state investigation of ExxonMobil, nonprofits and scientists for their subversive views on global warming. Gore & AGs

“The scope of the problem we are facing, the size of the corporate entities and alliances and trade associations [working against science and public interest] is massive and it requires a multi-state effort,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said at a March 29 press conference.

The sweeping effort to in George Will’s words “criminalize skepticism about the supposedly ‘settled’ conclusions of climate science” included attorneys general from 16 states, plus the District of Columbia and Virgin Islands.

“It is troubling that, as the polar caps melt, there are companies that are looking at that as an opportunity to go and drill, to go and get more oil. How selfish can you be?” said U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Earl Walker.

Compared to some of her colleagues on the climate inquisition, Swanson kept a low profile. There’s no news release or climate change hype on the A.G.’s official website, including under the “Scams” or “Fraud” tabs. No local media coverage—until now.

Yet the hard-hitting letter Swanson received from the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology exemplifies how quickly the winds of climate change probes can shift.

05.18.16 Sst Letter to Mn Ag

The 6-page document described a “coordinated attempt to deprive companies, nonprofit organizations, and scientists of their First Amendment rights and ability to fund and conduct scientific research free from intimidation and threats of prosecution.”

The committee demanded documents and communications between Swanson’s office and 8 special interest groups, including Greenpeace, 350.org, Rockefeller Family Fund and Union of Concerned Scientists.

“Your office—funded with taxpayer dollars—is using legal actions and investigative tactics in close coordination with certain special interest groups and trial attorneys that may rise to the level of an abuse of prosecutorial discretion. Further, such actions call into question the integrity of your office,” according to the letter signed by Committee Chair Lamar Smith, R-Texas and 12 colleagues, all Republicans.

Media representatives in Swanson’s office did not respond to a request for comment. Swanson has been directed to turn over relevant materials to committee investigators by May 30.