Confused Sen. Kamala Harris and “Partisan Probes” - Climate Litigation Watch

Confused Sen. Kamala Harris and “Partisan Probes”

Sen. Kamala Harris, a former California attorney general, recentlyfound herself in hot water after getting caught telling a fib about her history with ExxonMobil.” Specifically, she claimed that she had sued the company as part of the #ExxonKnew campaign by plaintiffs’ lawyers and activist attorneys general looking for settlements in the hundreds of billions of dollars because climate change.

She didn’t, in fact. However, her OAG did take in a tort lawyer’s slide show about how she could help out his suits against ExxonMobil and other companies, and participated in “a secret meeting at Harvard”, for “prospective funders” of a climate litigation campaign (presenter and Oregon State Prof. Phil Mote), about “going after climate denialism—along with a bunch of state and local prosecutors nationwide” (UCLA Law instructor Cara Horowitz, to UCLA and Harvard Law School donor Dan Emmett).

Late last week, the aspiring White House candidate further confused things with the claim that the U.S. Department of Justice’s anti-trust inquiry into possible collusion among automobile manufacturerswas a “partisan” probe.

As reported in the WSJ:

California has thus lured the four auto makers into a compact to follow emissions rules that are modestly less onerous than its current ones and to boost regulatory credit they get for manufacturing electric cars. In other words, auto makers made a coordinated bet that Mr. Trump will lose re-election and that manufacturing more money-losing electric cars now will pay off politically in the future.

They may be right, and there’s nothing wrong with a car maker deciding on its own to manufacture more electric cars, or lobbying the government with other companies for tougher standards. But in California auto makers in effect are conspiring to restrict the kinds of cars they sell. Their pact will probably compel them to raise prices on gas-powered vehicles to offset losses on electric cars. California’s imprimatur is not a green light to collude since the state’s rules aren’t legally binding.

Liberals are touting the “public benefits” of the emissions deal, but the Supreme Court ruled in a case involving a professional society of engineers in 1978 that “the public safety does not justify any exception to the Sherman Act.” Justice has also long investigated collusion among business competitors.

Sen. Harris wrote to DoJ, “Academics and practicing lawyers have described the Justice Department’s investigation as ‘unusual’ and ‘unprecedented,’ as there is nothing on the face of the framework that suggests any legitimate competitive concern”.


As the WSJ editorial page also put it,

After news broke Friday that the Justice Department is investigating four car makers for possible collusion, the denunciations were fast and furious. Democrats these days want to use antitrust law against certain corporate targets, but they apparently don’t want to investigate if big business is conspiring when it advances their political goals.

Not that the DoJ inquiry smacks at all of the description, but maybe Sen. Harris has a problem with “partisan probes” as manifested by her declining to pursue litigation that tort lawyers asked her to, that she now says she pursued (and, presumably, therefore actually approves of). It’s so difficult to tell.

Still, coming from someone who knows partisan probes, even if she’s a tad confused about how far she took her own participation, the claim that looking into the autos’ curious cooperation is rich.