Posts Tagged ‘Hillary Clinton’

Climate advocacy as “racketeering”: they knew

They knew, because their own allies had told them: “As you know, deception/disinformation isn’t itself a basis for criminal prosecution under RICO.” — an official of the Union of Concerned Scientists, writing to the organizers of a campaign to enlist scientists behind a call for a RICO investigation of the fossil fuel industry for its statements about climate change. The letter added, explaining UCS’s unwillingness to back the letter, “We don’t think that Sen. [Sheldon] Whitehouse’s call gives enough of a basis for scientists to sign on to this as a solid approach at this point.” [Reason]

Despite cautions like these, calls for a RICO investigation soon caught on among the political class and an investigation launched by Democratic state attorneys general has now aimed dragnet climate subpoenas at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and, thus far less directly, at nearly 100 advocacy, free-market, and university-based groups. “These include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the George Mason University Law and Economics Center, the American Enterprise Institute, the National Taxpayers Union Foundation, the Cato Institute [which publishes Overlawyered], the National Black Chamber of Commerce, the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, the Heritage Foundation, and on and on,” writes Ronald Bailey. CEI responded to the subpoena here (in a brief written by Andrew Grossman) and here, and on May 13 Cohen Milstein, the private contingency-fee law firm representing the attorney general of the Virgin Islands, responded, reserving the right to compel compliance with the subpoena, which demands the production of ten years’ worth of documents.

Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are among public figures who have backed calls for a racketeering investigation of fossil fuel companies’ participation in climate debates. I have found no evidence that either has expressed concern about the direction in which such investigations are headed.

Wage and hour roundup

  • Los Angeles hotel workers catching on to real intent of city ordinance carving out sub-minimum wage at unionized employers [Scott Shackford, Reason] “Why Sports Authority is throwing in the towel and closing all of its stores” [Kevin Smith, San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Pasadena Star-News]
  • “France might pass a law that makes it illegal to send after-hours work emails” [Washington Post]
  • Boiled at slightly lower temperature: DoL considering knocking down salary threshold a bit, $47,000 rather than $50,440, for its awful upcoming overtime mandate [Jon Hyman; video from Partnership to Protect Workplace Opportunity, group critical of regs; earlier here, etc.]
  • “Eleventh Circuit Reins in NLRB’s Mischaracterization of Independent Contractors as ‘Employees'” [John Park, Washington Legal Foundation]
  • “Relax Everyone: NELP’s New Report Says The Minimum Wage Doesn’t Cost Jobs” [Tim Worstall] “The Economic Denialism of a $15 Minimum Wage” [John McGinnis; Chris Edwards/Cato] David Henderson scrutinizes work by left-wing Berkeley economist Michael Reich backing $15 minimum [EconLog]
  • Idea of abolishing the tip system, pushed by some labor activists and eyed as a fallback by businesses tied up in wage law knots, meets with huge resistance from restaurant staff in U.S. [NPR]
  • “Hillary Clinton Just Turned the Democratic Party Into the Party of the $15 an Hour Minimum Wage” [Peter Suderman]

Politics roundup

  • Disparage at thy peril: three Democratic lawmakers demand FTC investigation of private group that purchased $58,000 in ads disparaging CFPB, a government agency [ABC News] So many politicos targeting their opponents’ speech these days [Barton Hinkle]
  • A pattern we’ve seen over the years: promoting himself as outspoken social conservative, trial lawyer running for chairman of Republican Party of Texas [Mark Pulliam, SE Texas Record]
  • Some of which goes to union political work: “Philly Pays $1.5 Million to ‘Ghost Teachers'” [Evan Grossman, Pennsylvania Watchdog via Jason Bedrick]
  • “However objectionable one might find Trump’s rhetoric, the [event-disrupting] protesters are in the wrong.” [Bill Wyman/Columbia Journalism Review, earlier]
  • Hillary Clinton’s connections to Wal-Mart go way back, and hooray for that [Ira Stoll and column]
  • I went out canvassing GOP voters in Maryland before the primary. Here’s what they told me. [Ricochet]

April 13 roundup

Victor Schwartz on supposed gunmaker “immunity”

Leading tort law scholar Victor Schwartz describes as “pure fiction” Hillary Clinton’s claims, which I’ve discussed before, that the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) gave gun manufacturers a sweeping immunity from litigation. “Putting rhetoric aside, this much is clear: Traditional liability law still applies to gun manufacturers. The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act specifically states that makers of firearms are liable for any defect in their products, such as if a gun misfires and harms someone, or if it does not work at all and fails at the moment it is lawfully needed.”

Hillary’s chronic anti-speech instincts

While on the topic of presidential candidates’ disturbing views on speech: Matt Welch recalls the former Secretary of State’s many campaigns against controversial videogames, ads, and entertainment, her regular support for government intrusion in communications technology and social media on a rationale of national security, and her far from wholehearted defense of speech values when an inflammatory amateur YouTube video caused riots in Muslim nations [“Hail to the Censor! Hillary Clinton’s long war on free speech,” Reason] Nor should we forget the Citizens United case, which arose from a legal effort to suppress a critical movie made about her: Mrs. Clinton imagines that “allowing more campaign-related speech has made elections less competitive” [Jacob Sullum, Reason] More/update: Matt Welch.

While we’re at it: that period of his career when Bernie Sanders bent himself in knots to rationalize government censorship of opposition voices. [Michael Moynihan, Daily Beast] Bonus: Bernie sees brighter side of breadlines!

Banking and finance roundup

  • Bernie Sanders still rants and raves about Glass-Steagall Act. Who will break the news to him? [Catherine Rampell/WaPo, P.M. Carpenter (Krugman, Pearlstein in accord with Rampell), earlier] “Hillary Clinton vows to go ‘well beyond’ Dodd-Frank” [Housing Wire via Kevin Funnell]
  • “In the past, ‘financial institutions were unwilling, for relationship reasons, to litigate against each other…That has changed dramatically.'” [Daniel Fisher quoting New York attorney Brian Fraser]
  • “Government Thinks You’re Too Dumb To Try Crowdfunding” [Ben Weingarten, The Federalist]
  • “If every bank behaved like Abacus, the financial crisis wouldn’t have occurred.” So guess which bank got prosecuted [Jiayang Fan, The New Yorker back in October]
  • Billions in free money for consumers, just by regulating credit card fees! Sorry, it’s not that simple [Todd Zywicki]
  • “The war against cash”: government vs. the cash economy [Daniel Mitchell, Cato, first and second post]
  • New IRS authority to secure revocation of passports should give pause to everyone concerned about American liberty [Investors Business Daily]

January 20 roundup

  • As an experienced lawyer Hillary Clinton surely knows better than to say the things she’s saying about gun lawsuits. [Charles Cooke, thanks for citing my work]
  • While we’re at it, Ms. Clinton, there is so much wrong with your contemplated business exit tax [Ira Stoll, New York Sun]
  • Metallica vs. cover band cease/desist spat gets patched up quickly [Rockfeed, followup]
  • Alas, RICO suits harassing Colorado legal-pot business appear to be prospering [Jacob Sullum/Reason, my Cato take]
  • Judge tosses $21.5 million award in that colorful Holland America case we’ve covered [Seattle Times, earlier]
  • Labor-rights case from Colombia causing further difficulty for Terry Collingsworth, attorney known for Alien Tort suits [Daniel Fisher, earlier]
  • “Harvard Law Review Freaks Out, Sends Christmas Eve Threat Level Over Public Domain Citation Guide” [Mike Masnick, TechDirt]

Politics roundup

  • “Executive Power in the Age of Obama,” podcast interview with Prof. David Bernstein about his new book Lawless, from Encounter Books [Liberty and Law] And so many choices: Bernstein picks his top five acts of Obama administration lawlessness;
  • Donations-wise, law firms love Hillary Clinton [Above the Law] as do teachers’ unions [RiShawn Biddle]
  • “The Criminalization Of Politics: Is It Happening, And Is It A Problem?” David Lat covers the Federalist Society convention panel [Above the Law]
  • Donald Trump’s fondness for legal threats can be traced back to his early association with infamous attorney Roy Cohn [Business Insider video with Michael D’Antonio; June 1989 Spy magazine “Those Who Can, Sue” noting the Trump/Cohn connection; a Steven Brill anecdote about Cohn and Ford Motor that I quoted in my first book] More: @andrewmgrossman on “Ex. 1 to defendant’s anti-SLAPP motion,” Trump on Kasich;
  • “Sheldon Silver lied to us” [New York Daily News editorial] More: Lawyers for Silver “don’t plan to call any witnesses. They will instead enter some documents as evidence in their defense, offering a case so minimal that U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni used air quotes when referring to it.” [WSJ]
  • Raunchy emails in Kathleen Kane saga: “Pennsylvania’s attorney general seems to have decided that if she has to go, she’s going to take others down with her.” [AP/Yahoo]
  • Eternal return? Ex-con reinstalled as mayor of Bridgeport, Ct. played key role in cities-sue-gun-business episode [U.S. News, back then]

Another step toward climate speechcrime: New York subpoenas

Months of agitation promoting a government investigation of supposedly wrongful advocacy on the issue of climate change have begun to pay off. As Holman Jenkins [paywall] notes, purportedly levelheaded Democrats and environmentalists are now jumping on the bandwagon for a probe of possible unlawful speech or non-speech by energy companies and advocacy groups they’ve backed. Perhaps the most remarkable name on that list is Hillary Clinton, who said the other day in New Hampshire, referring to Exxon, “There’s a lot of evidence that they misled people.” That’s right: Hillary Clinton, of all people, now wants to make it unlawful for those who engage in public controversy to mislead people.

The first high-profile law enforcer to bite, it seems, will be Eric Schneiderman, whose doings I’ve examined at length lately. “The New York attorney general has launched an investigation into Exxon Mobil to determine whether the country’s largest oil and gas company lied to investors about how global warming could hurt its balance sheets and also hid the risks posed by climate change from the public,” reports U.S. News. Show me the denier, as someone almost said, and I will find you the crime: “The Martin Act is a nearly empty vessel into which the AG can pour virtually any content that he wants,” as Reuters points out. More on the Martin Act here and here.

At Forbes, Daniel Fisher notes the possible origins of the legal action in an environmentalist-litigator confab in 2012 (“Climate Accountability Initiative”) in which participants speculated that getting access to the internal files of energy companies and advocacy groups could be a way to blow up the climate controversy politically. Fisher also notes that Justice Stephen Breyer, in the Nike v. Kasky case dismissed 12 years ago on other grounds, warned that it will tend to chill advocacy both truthful and otherwise by businesses if opponents can seize on disagreements on contentious public issues and run to court with complaints of consumer (or presumably securities) fraud.

Perhaps in this case chilling advocacy is the whole point. And very much related: my colleague Roger Pilon’s post last week, “Whatever Happened to the Left’s Love of Free Speech?“; Robert Samuelson (“The advocates of a probe into Exxon Mobil are essentially proposing that the company be punished for expressing its opinions.”)