Bernie Sanders Wants the DOJ to Investigate Exxon

The presidential candidate says the oil giant’s behavior is a “potential instance of corporate fraud.”

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This story was originally published by the Huffington Post and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday joined a push for the Department of Justice to investigate allegations that ExxonMobil hid research confirming fossil fuels contribute significantly to climate change.

In a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Sanders accused the oil giant of a “potential instance of corporate fraud,” which he added could “ultimately qualify as a violation of federal law.”

“Exxon Mobil knew the truth about fossil fuels and climate change and lied to protect their business model at the expense of the planet,” Sanders, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, wrote.

Last week, two House Democrats sent Lynch a very similar letter, pressing her to launch an investigation into Exxon’s actions. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, another Democratic presidential candidate, has also indicated support for an official inquiry

The requests come after in-depth reports by the Los Angeles Times and Inside Climate News revealed that decades of research conducted by senior Exxon scientists warned burning fossil fuels could lead to increasing global temperatures.

The independent investigations by the two news outlets allege that Exxon shared the data internally and used it when planning future operations, but promoted “a public policy position that sought to downplay the certainty of global warming.”

If this is true, Sanders said, the “misinformation campaign” Exxon spread could lead to federal racketeering convictions.

“Based on available public information, it appears that Exxon knew its product was causing harm to the public, and spent millions of dollars to obfuscate the facts in the public discourse,” Sanders wrote. “The information that has come to light about Exxon’s past activities raises potentially serious concerns that should be investigated.”

Sanders also requested that the DOJ form a task force by December 19 in order to determine whether there is enough evidence to open an official investigation into Exxon.

Last week, Exxon spokesman Alan Jeffers said the company “unequivocally” rejects the allegations outlined in the articles and letters being sent to Lynch.

“Suggestions that ExxonMobil suppressed its climate research are completely without merit,” Jeffers said.

More MotherJones reporting on Climate Desk

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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