Exxon has a lot of friends in Congress, but they didn’t come cheap. A study from the Public Accountability Initiative finds 13 members of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology collectively have received at least $98,270 in contributions from ExxonMobil employees and political action committees connected to the company.
Those same 13 committee members, all of them Republican, recently launched a counterinquiry into an investigation scrutinizing whether Exxon deliberately misled the public over the reality of climate change. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman launched the investigation into Exxon in November; in March he was joined by attorneys general from five other states, plus the attorney general for the Virgin Islands.
In May, the Republican members of the House science committee started their own probe into the Schneiderman investigation. In an open letter to Schneiderman, they described his inquiry as “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.”
In addition to the nearly $100,000 in donations related to Exxon, the Public Accountability Initiative found the 13 committee members had received $2,680,383 in overall contributions from the oil and gas industry. These findings were based on data from the Center for Responsive Politics, and how far back the data went varied depending on which House member was being scrutinized.
Schneiderman’s investigation was intended to look at whether Exxon had made claims about climate change that were belied by its own scientific research. He opened the inquiry just a few months after the Union of Concerned Scientists said it had obtained documents showing Exxon has been aware of the danger posed by man-made climate change for more than 30 years.
The company has denied misleading either investors or the public.