Professor: “Climate change deniers” deserve punishment, suggests RICO
(TRUNEWS) Michael E. Kraft, the professor emeritus of political science and public and environmental affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, wrote in an op-ed Monday in Providence Journal that he advocates for the Department of Justice to use RICO statutes to punish “climate change deniers”.
“Those who intentionally misled the public about climate change should be held accountable,” Kraft wrote, noting that the “dismissal of well-established climate science” had direct parallels to the federal war on the tobacco industry. In that legal battle, prosecutors eventually managed to levy fines against the industry for “fraudulently covering up scientific evidence of health risks”, through the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).
Kraft said: “Dismissal of well-established climate science has parallels to decades of debate over tobacco use and its effects on health. Tobacco companies long denied any causal relation between smoking and disease even when their own studies showed the opposite to be true. Similarly, some fossil fuel companies for decades publicly rejected established climate science and the role of burning fossil fuels in anthropogenic climate change while their internal studies confirmed both. The tobacco companies eventually paid a steep price for their actions. In 1999, the Justice Department filed a civil lawsuit against them, charging that they “engaged in and executed” a “massive 50-year scheme to defraud the public, including consumers of cigarettes,” in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO. Specifically, the lawsuit said the companies engaged in a conspiracy to launch a public relations campaign challenging scientific evidence that demonstrated the health risks of smoking at the same time that their own research confirmed smoking’s danger.”
Kraft also suggested the possibility of extending the investigation from the fossil fuel industry, to think tanks, advocacy groups, and even the media. “Some such groups have been heavily funded by the fossil fuel industry and have misrepresented climate change risks to the public. That might be a tougher sell, given rights to free speech, but it could be given consideration,” he wrote.
The idea of RICO statutes being used to prosecute those some scientists, politicians and activists from the left call “climate change deniers”, has been previously floated by Attorney General Loretta Lynch. While being questioned in February by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, (D-R.I.), Lynch directly mentioned the potential use of RICO against critics of the theory of anthropogenic global warming, noting that she had referred the matter to the FBI for study.
In another tweet from the canaries in the anti-coal mine, a dozen state attorneys general met in March in New York and agreed to “aggressively” investigate fossil fuel companies. Several state attorneys generals have since initiated investigations under consumer and investor protection laws.
On the side of reason, however, there is push back mounting. Glenn Harlan Reynolds, a University of Tennessee law professor, has raised the question: Are these meetings between state attorneys generals legal?
In an Op-Ed for USA Today, Reynolds wrote:
“Federal law makes it a felony ‘for two or more persons to agree together to injure, threaten, or intimidate a person in any state, territory or district in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him/her by the Constitution or the laws of the Unites States, (or because of his/her having exercised the same)’. I wonder if U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Walker, or California Attorney General Kamala Harris, or New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman have read this federal statute. Because what they’re doing looks like a concerted scheme to restrict the First Amendment free speech rights of people they don’t agree with. They should look up 18 U.S.C. Sec. 241, I am sure they each have it somewhere in their offices.”
Reynolds was referencing how NY AG Schneiderman and CA AG Harris launched state investigations into Exxon for making donations to groups and funding research by individuals who believe “climate change” is either a hoax or not as dramatic as the lock-step political left.
Reynolds noted that their investigation was reminiscent of “Wisconsin’s discredited Putin-style legal assault”, which was levied over the past few years against conservative groups and their contributors. He ended by saying, “if these government officials have such contempt for others’ constitutional rights, who might they target next for ‘unacceptable’ speech?”
Hans Bader, the senior attorney for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, echoed Reynolds’ sentiment, saying:
“Should government officials be able to cut off donations to groups because they employ people disparaged as “climate change deniers?” … Only a single-issue zealot with ideological blinders and a contempt for the First Amendment would think so. The First Amendment has long been interpreted as protecting corporate lobbying and donations, even to groups that allegedly deceive the public about important issues. So even if being a “climate denier” were a crime (rather than constitutionally protected speech, as it in fact is), a donation to a non-profit that employs such a person would not be.”
Rick Wiles of TRUNEWS has previously addressed the growing storm on free speech from the authoritarian left, and their assault on “climate change deniers” is a heavy representation of that war. As it stands, satellite data shows no significant global increase in surface temperature for the last 18 years, and all objective research shows that initiatives like carbon emissions taxing and “green energy” actually greatly increase the cost of power with no benefit to the quality of life of constituents.
England is a prime example of this, as their steel industry collapsed this month from burgeoning frivolous pressure, as they failed to turn profits under the EU’s sustainable development mandates.