Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has joined the ranks of politicians and environmentalists calling for a federal investigation of ExxonMobil.
At a town hall event in New Hampshire on Thursday, local community organizer Jordan Cichon asked Clinton whether she would call on the Department of Justice to investigate the fossil fuel giant of engaging in a cover-up to mislead the public about the risks of human-caused climate change.
“Yes, yes, they should,” Clinton responded. “There’s a lot of evidence that they misled.”
Here’s a video of the exchange, caught by the environmental group 350 Action:
The evidence Clinton referred to are two recent investigations by Inside Climate News and the Los Angeles Times. Those investigations found that ExxonMobil knew as far back as 1977 that its product was contributing to climate change, yet instead of acknowledging this, it gave millions of dollars to politicians and groups that deny climate science, and downplayed the scientific certainty.
Many have compared the allegations against ExxonMobil to the DOJ’s massive and successful lawsuit against the tobacco industry, which found that tobacco companies engaged in racketeering by conspiring to hide the harmful impacts of smoking from the public. In an interview with ThinkProgress, the former DOJ attorney who prosecuted that case said a federal investigation into ExxonMobil is “plausible and should be considered.”
Exxon, for its part, has denounced the investigations, calling the Pulitzer-prize winning InsideClimate an “anti-oil and gas activist organization.” The company said it has taken the risks of climate change “very seriously.”
Clinton is the last remaining Democratic presidential candidate to call for a federal investigation of ExxonMobil — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley issued their calls earlier this month.
But Clinton’s call is a bit more surprising, considering that lobbyists for ExxonMobil have donated to and bundled money for her campaign. According to Mother Jones, ExxonMobil lobbyist Davis Leiter has bundled $36,550 for Clinton’s campaign. The company’s top Washington lobbyist Theresa Fariello has also given the maximum $2,700 to Clinton’s campaign, as did Washington-based Exxon attorney Judith Batty.