Stanley Brand Quoted by Legal Intelligencer on Lamar Smith Subpoena Threat to NY AG

Akin Gump litigation senior counsel Stanley Brand was quoted by The Legal Intelligencer on a threat by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), chair of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, to subpoena the New York Attorney General to obtain communications about an investigation into Exxon Mobil and misleading statements about climate change.

In “U.S. House Republicans Clash With State AGs Over Exxon, Climate-Change Inquiries,” Brand, who served as general counsel to the House of Representatives, noted that Smith’s threat may be a hollow one, saying, “I don't mean to disparage Congress' investigative authority, but it's a piece of paper. It doesn't self-execute.” He likened any move, absent enforcement powers, by Smith and congressional GOP figures to hold NY AG Eric Schneiderman in contempt to a nail without a hammer.

Brand said that many similar disputes have played out in Congress and have been resolved through negotiated agreements.

He noted that the path to enforcement of such a subpoena is “long, tedious and uncertain” and that testing the question through litigation would raise issues of standing and ripeness that would only extend the process. Brand added, “Even after you get that, the court still has to pick a side. It's not an efficient or definitive process.”

He noted, regarding congressional pursuit of a subpoena against the NY AG, “When you're talking about a state attorney general, you're talking about an animal of a different stripe than either a citizen or a company.”

This story and Brand’s quotes were also published by New York Law Journal (“Schneiderman Urges Texas Congressman to Back Off Subpoena Threat”) and The National Law Journal (“NY Attorney General, Responding to Texas Lawmaker, Warns of ‘Constitutional Conflict’”).