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Tonko Statement on House Science Committee Subpoena of Attorneys General, Environmental Groups

Rep decries action by Chairman Smith as unconstitutional overreach, impeding legitimate investigations

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Washington, July 13, 2016 | comments

Congressman Paul D. Tonko (D-NY) released the following statement in response to an announcement from House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) and other Republican Members that they plan to issue subpoenas to attorneys general and environmental groups in an unprecedented move of unconstitutional overreach to impede legitimate investigations:

“I am extremely concerned by the manner in which Chairman Smith and several members of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology have launched an inquiry into legitimate state law enforcement investigations, including the New York Attorney General, as well as several esteemed environmental organizations. The Chairman’s letters have asserted baseless concerns, and made demands that, if met, could only serve to delay investigations of potential securities and consumer fraud that are of critical importance to the American public, investors, and consumers.

“From the start, the Committee’s actions have sought to grab headlines and intimidate elected state officials. There has been no intention to understand the actual motivations under state laws that prompted these investigations.

“These subpoenas are not only highly inappropriate, but also unnecessary. I fully agree with Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson that the Chairman’s demands are an illegitimate exercise of Congressional oversight power. I urge the Chairman to immediately cease blatantly interfering with legitimate state law enforcement investigations.

“I am disappointed by the Majority’s actions. The Chairman made his motivations clear when he chose to issue subpoenas unilaterally. At the very least, we should have convened a meeting of the Full Committee to consider the issuance of subpoenas, so that all Members could have been on the record regarding the constitutional issues involved.”

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