This Republican Is On A Crusade To Investigate Anyone Who Investigates Exxon

Go digging into Exxon Mobil’s past and you’ll almost certainly hear from a particular House Republican with a long history of denying climate change.

In recent months, the actions of Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who chairs the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, have become all too predictable: attack, request, subpoena, repeat.

Each time a new probe is launched into Exxon’s suppression of climate change research ― and there have been several ― Smith comes running, demanding documents related to those investigations and parroting the oil and gas giant’s go-to First Amendment defense.

His latest showing of support for the industry that has given him $679,947 since 1989 is among his boldest, and some say most absurd, to date.

In a letter Thursday, Smith demanded that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ― that’s right, the federal government ― turn over to him all documents related to its investigation into how Exxon Mobil values future projects amid climate change and plunging oil prices.

Smith even gave SEC Chair Mary Jo White a deadline to comply with his request: Oct. 13, two weeks from the date of the letter.

Bevis Longstreth, a Huffington Post contributor and former SEC commissioner appointed by President Ronald Reagan, told The Huffington Post that the SEC “can just tell [Smith] to go to hell.” Smith’s attempt to flex his muscle, Longstreth said, “shows just how little muscle he really has.”

SEC investigations are confidential, to protect evidence and company reputations. In most cases, the agency will neither confirm or deny an ongoing investigation ― as was the case this month when news of its Exxon investigation broke. 

At the end of the day, Smith’s request is “meaningless,” Longstreth told HuffPost. 

“[The SEC] can’t have anyone, including the president, interfere in an investigation,” he said, adding that the attempt to do so is “going to end up making Smith look like a damn fool.”

Smith did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story.

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