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Senators Demand DOJ Cease Investigation Into Opponents of President Obama’s Energy Policies

May 26, 2016

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), and David Vitter (R-La.) today sent a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, demanding that the Department of Justice (DOJ) end its use of law enforcement resources against political opponents of President Obama’s energy agenda. 

“These actions provide disturbing confirmation that government officials at all levels are threatening to wield the sword of law enforcement to silence debate on climate change,” the letter reads. “As you well know, initiating criminal prosecution for a private entity’s opinions on climate change is a blatant violation of the First Amendment and an abuse of power that rises to the level of prosecutorial misconduct.”

The letter goes on to demand that Attorney General Lynch confirm that all investigations into any private individual’s views on climate change end within 14 days and promise not to initiate any future such investigations. 

“Freedom of thought and inquiry is at the very heart of liberty,” Sen. Cruz said. “Sadly, the Obama administration and its allies in state attorney general offices across the country are threatening to use the power of government to intimidate and ultimately silence companies and researchers who do not agree with the government’s opinions about the allegedly harmful effects of climate change and what should be done about it. This is an abuse of power and a direct assault on the First Amendment. The Obama Justice Department should immediately cease any further consideration of such action and should instead do everything in its power to protect the freedom of thought of all Americans.” 

“Threatening prosecution of those who dare to challenge the most outlandish scaremongering by climate activists strikes at the very heart of the Free Speech protections on which this nation was founded,” Sen. Lee said. “Issuing subpoenas to harass researchers and academics with whom they have communicated, as some state attorneys general offices have done, shows a basic disregard for Americans’ Freedom of Association. The public expects us to prevent such abuses, not perpetrate them. It is our responsibility to contain the inevitable chilling effects by calling for an end to any consideration by the Department of Justice of such harassment at once.”

“I have serious concerns any time that the Department of Justice uses its power to repress constitutionally protected speech and open dialogue on any public policy issue,” Sen. Perdue said. “Given the unprecedented politicization of the Obama Justice Department, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s oversight responsibilities have become more important than ever before. There is no place in our democracy for politically-motivated investigations by the Department of Justice.”

“Unnecessary government intrusion of private citizens’ lives is an unfortunate characteristic of the reign of the Obama Administration,” Sen. Vitter said. “It is contemptible for the Justice Department to target and threaten individual American citizens and private or non-profit organizations in pursuit of its far-left environmental agenda.” 

Read the letter in its entirety here.

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