Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has been on a very public dual collision course with both the Supreme Court (and its ethical compromises) and the fossil fuel industry (and its, well, ethical compromises) since he received his congressional megaphone.
Whitehouse has excoriated SCOTUS Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito in what now number 23 different speeches — grouped as “The Scheme” — in the Senate, and he has been equally antagonistic toward Big Oil, an entrenched interest Whitehouse accuses of buying SCOTUS influence and warming the planet for profit while engaging in a deceptive decades-long disinformation campaign.
Yup, same climate-denial Koch Bros who had Clarence Thomas on-hand while fundraising for their climate denial op. Hello, Clean Power Plan decision.— Sheldon Whitehouse (@SenWhitehouse) September 26, 2023
Whitehouse puts his two enemies together again in a recent tweet diptych, sharing a story about how University of Pennsylvania professor Michael Mann “calls out the stink” coming from “a virtual constellation of think tanks and front groups … tied to fossil fuel companies or conservative donors like the Koch brothers.”
Whitehouse again ties the Koch brothers to Justice Thomas, noting the recent ProPublica revelation about Thomas’s under-the-radar involvement in money-raising activities sponsored by the Kochs.
ProPublica’s latest story outlined Justice Thomas’s connection with the Koch brothers.— Sheldon Whitehouse (@SenWhitehouse) September 25, 2023
Want to better understand their motives and the breadth of their reach? Our amicus brief discusses how their front groups try to convince the Court to side with the Koch network and polluters. pic.twitter.com/1VQ0g6mzFm
Professor Mann became famous for his “hockey stick curve” illustrating the rapid global temperature rise that he presented in a 1998 paper. As a result, he says, the fossil fuel industry’s objections and think-tank-driven counter-narratives included personal attacks on him that became harrowing. In the story Whitehouse shares — coming from an interview at Vox — Mann recounts:
“I received a white powder in the mail. The FBI had to come to my office. There was police tape over my office. They had to send out the sample to the lab to have it tested. It turned out it was cornmeal or something. It was intended to intimidate and scare me. And demands from conservative politicians that I be fired from my job at the University of Pennsylvania. Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, vilifying me to their audiences. It was a full-throttle effort to discredit me because of the threat of the hockey stick curve that I had published.”
The threat to Mann of poisoning by white powder — anthrax is just one form of mail terrorism of this kind — still has no known perpetrator. But the origin of narrative that may have caused that powder to be sent is easy to trace, Whitehouse asserts.