Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood today sided with his colleagues from Massachusetts, New York and other blue states in an ongoing legal battle over whether ExxonMobil can be forced to fork over documents related its climate change research and advocacy.Update: Attorney General Jim Hood issued the following statement:
Hood today joined AGs from 11 other states, the Virgin Islands and Washington, D.C., on an amicus brief filed in a Texas federal court seeking to bolster Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey's investigation, which she defended in a Monday motion to the same court. Exxon is trying to quash Healey's demand for company's communications with industry and conservative groups in the Texas federal court, as well as in Massachusetts state court.
Though he is a Democrat, Hood is a somewhat surprising ally for the blue-state AGs. Last year, he aligned with Texas GOP counterpart Ken Paxton - who is leading red-state AGs in defense of Exxon - on a lawsuit challenging EPA's Clean Water Act rule last year.
The attorneys general argue in today's brief that legal precedent bars Exxon "from bringing a federal lawsuit to stymie an Attorney General's investigation," given that state courts are already available for such a challenge. The AGs say their goal is to protect their authority to conduct investigations and "in safeguarding the roles of their state courts in this nation's system of dual sovereignty."
Hood engaged in a high-profile battle of his own over corporate compliance with AG subpoenas earlier this year, battling Google in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals over whether the company could challenge Hood's subpoena before he fully pursued a case against it. Hood ultimately withdrew the subpoena at issue.
While our office is not directly involved in the underlying substantive investigation, Mississippi joined the brief because it supports the authority of attorneys general to investigate wrongdoing and to use subpoenas in furtherance of such investigations without undue federal court involvement. This is a position we have consistently taken in support of other attorneys general and also in our own investigations and cases, most recently in the Google litigation. Forty attorneys general were united in successfully having a similar law suit by Google against Mississippi thrown out of court.