Attorney General Maura Healey: A Defender or Serious Abuser of the First Amendment’s Right to Free Speech?

by Ted Tripp
Sr. Political Reporter
In the April issue of the Boston Broadside we mentioned that AG
Maura Healey had joined a coalition of 15 other states to pursue litigation against those organizations/companies not toeing the liberal line on the dangers of manmade Global Warming. She and the other attorneys generals have launched a fishing expedition by subpoenaing up to 40 years worth of e-mails, records, communications, reports and other documents related to Climate Change that might show a company or organization does not agree with President Obama’s view that Climate Change is the greatest threat to mankind. Healey and the other AGs are throwing the entire resources of their offices behind these efforts.
The initial subpoenas targeted ExxonMobil, since it’s easy to attack Big Oil and the liberal media will always support her. However, AG Healey has recently expanded the fishing expedition to include conservative think tanks: The Heartland Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the American Legislative Exchange Council, Americans for Prosperity, the Center for Industrial Progress and locally, the Beacon Hill Institute. She wants any information from these institutions related to their contacts with ExxonMobil regarding Climate Change.
Noted columnist Kimberley Strassel from the Wall Street Journal wrote on June 16th: “… the Healey subpoena shows that Exxon is a front. The real target is a broad array of conservative activist groups that are highly effective at mobilizing the grass-roots and countering liberal talking points – and therefore must … be muzzled.” She added “The goal of the Exxon probe isn’t to protect consumers or help the environment. It’s a message: Oppose us, and we will marshal our terrifying government powers to intimidate and threaten you, to force you to spend millions defending yourself, to eat up time you’d otherwise use speaking out.”
Recently, civil-liberties attorney Harvey Silverglate told the Boston Herald that the Exxon investigation was “pure harassment.” He added: “it is outrageous for any law enforcement official to be seeking to win this battle for minds by flexing law enforcement muscle and trying to shut up the other side.”
Congress has also taken note of AG Healey’s heavy-handed and harassing tactics. On May 18th the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, concerned about the First Amendment rights of “companies, nonprofit organizations, and scientists … to fund and conduct scientific research free from intimidation and threats of prosecution,” sent AG Healey a letter (nearby) requisitioning all documents and communication from the past four years between her office and various environmental groups, other attorneys generals and the DOJ, EPA and Executive Office of the President regarding any coordination of activities to deny companies, nonprofit organizations or scientists their First Amendment rights of free speech.
On June 2nd, AG Healey’s office sent a letter (exclusively shown below) to the House Committee questioning its authority to investigate this matter. The letter seems to justify that internal discussions in the 1970s and 1980s by Exxon scientists on the possible changes in climate caused by the burning of fossil fuels should have caused management to take action justifies such a broad-based investigation. The House responded to her in a letter dated June 17th. It states: “The House Science Committee’s authority … [is] grounded in the Constitution and reflected in the rules of the House of Representatives. The Committee strongly disagrees with your contentions. The Committee intends to continue its vigorous oversight of the coordinated attempt to deprive companies, nonprofit organizations, and scientists of their First Amendment rights …” The new letter (also below) requests the material by June 24th.
As far as we know at this time, all of the organizations subpoenaed by AG Healey have either not yet responded or have decided to fight her requests for information.
One response was quite notable for its brevity and clarity. Alex Epstein, President and founder of the Center for Industrial Progress, when he received AG Healey’s subpoena, replied promptly to her office:
Epstein did not leave out any letters in his reply.
On June 15th, ExxonMobil officially filed a Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief against AG Healey in U.S. District Court in Texas. The action seeks to bar the enforcement of Healey’s demand for information and declare that it violates ExxonMobil’s rights under state and federal law. You can view the entire document here:  http://tinyurl.com/h33qf7s.
Also, on the same day, Republican attorneys generals from 15 states wrote a letter to the so-called “AGs United for Clean Power,” which includes Maura Healey, suggesting what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. A section of the letter says: “This fraud investigation targets only ‘fossil fuel companies’ and only statements minimizing climate change risks. If it is possible to minimize the risks of climate change, then the same goes for exaggeration. If minimization is fraud, exaggeration is fraud.” You can view the entire letter here:  http://tinyurl.com/zwxegtm.
On January 22, 2015 Maura Healy faced Massachusetts SJC Chief Justice Ralph Gants and clearly pronounced before a packed crowd in Faneuil Hall, at the end of her Oath of Office: “I, Maura Healey, do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States.” You can actually see her say it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LonmhLfj2Go.
How quickly she has forgotten those cherished words.

 

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