Sen. Kamala Harris claimed during a climate change town hall Wednesday that she once sued Exxon Mobil for allegedly misleading shareholders and the public about the threats of climate change. But according to several reports, that's not true.
Harris made the assertion when CNN moderator Erin Burnett asked if Harris would sue the fossil fuel company if elected president.
“I have sued Exxon Mobil,” she said, drawing applause from the audience.
But InsideClimate News reported last week that although Harris vowed to take on Exxon while she was California’s attorney general in 2016, New York’s Attorney General Barbara Underwood was the only one to actually sue the oil giant.
The California Office of the Attorney General confirmed to the publication that no lawsuit was filed against Exxon from 2011 to 2017, when Harris was the state's attorney general, or between 2004 and 2011 when she was San Francisco’s district attorney.
Three other sources also claim no Harris lawsuit against Exxon exists: a San Francisco-based law firm filing a civil suit against Exxon over climate change, Columbia University's database of climate change litigation and Energy in Depth, a pro-oil advocacy organization.
In addition, Politifact also rated her claim is false.
"The facts are Harris opened an investigation against Exxon for lying about climate change. She didn’t take that further even though she should have and other attorney generals did," Kassie Siegel, climate director at the Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund, told Politifact.
"The facts are Harris opened an investigation against Exxon for lying about climate change. She didn’t take that further."
InsideClimate News reported there’s no evidence California filed any subpoenas against Exxon, as did officials in New York, Massachusetts and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
But Harris’ campaign suggested on Twitter on Thursday that the senator's critics were quibbling on semantics over "sued" versus "investigated."
"Trump spent the morning potentially illegally teasing out jobs numbers and lying about a massive hurricane's trajectory, but sure, let's spend our time on whether, as Attorney General, Kamala 'sued' vs. 'investigated' Exxon,” her campaign spokesman, Ian Sams, wrote.
Politifact noted Harris has sued other fossil fuel companies but not over climate change.
CNN also fact-checked Harris' claim as false.