Wow, talk about a major conflict of interest, Patton Boggs, the Washington DC law firm that Chevron Ecuador plaintiff lawyer Steven Donziger brought in to take some heat and spotlight off of him as allegations of fraud and general Ecuadorian dirty-dealing surfaced, also lobbied for Chevron.
That’s right. In the summer of 2010, and before it got involved on the Ecuador side of the Chevron Ecuador case, Patton Boggs purchased another law practice called Breaux Lott Leadership Group. Well, Breaux Lott Leadership Group has represented Chevron.
It’s not only clear that Patton Boggs knew this, but is now in court trying (unsuccessfully, thus far) to argue that it’s not a conflict of interest. Wow. That’s the legal equivalent of “hedge investing” where one realizes a profit from a gain, or a loss, in the same set of securities.
Moreover, advocates for the Ecuador side claim that Breaux Lott Leadership Group’s work was “non legal.” That’s the biggest tale in the World. What Breaux Lott Leadership Group, or more to the point of the lobbyist filing, John Breaux did, was lobby for Chevron before the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives on “General energy and energy efficiency issues,” to the tune of $140,000 in 2009, alone. That’s a very broad range description of the topics Mr. Breaux , and former Senator Trent Lott, covered.
In November 2010, The Washington Post reported “The prior relationship between Chevron and the Breaux-Lott Leadership Group is undisputed. Since the formation of the shop headed by former senators Trent Lott and John Breaux, the oil company has paid it $525,000 in 2008, $530,000 in 2009 and $265,000 in 2010 for federal lobbying work, according to Center for Responsive Politics data. Congressional lobbying records show that the relationship between the two entities ended just before Breaux-Lott was acquired by Patton Boggs in July of this year.”
“just before” is right on the edge, and amounts to taking money from the one party, then taking money from another party, working against that same party, in the same year. That’s a conflict of interest. And while Patton Boggs claims that Breaux Lott Leadgership Group never argued for Chevron’s side in the Ecuador issue, this paragraph from the Huffington Post implies otherwise:
Chevron’s lobbyists are a Who’s Who of former government officials. DC’s rule of thumb: corporations ensure better access to lawmakers when they put their former colleagues from government on their payroll. Chevron pays the Breaux Lott Leadership Group of the law firm Patton Boggs $135,000 every three months to lobby members of Congress. That means former Senators John Breaux and Trent Lott hobnob with their Senate contemporaries, and ask whatever Chevron tells them to ask for.
“Whatever Chevron tells them to ask for,” could include the Ecuador issue, and from the standpoint of how it impacts Ecaudor’s status as a “most favored trading nation” with America.
And in case you’re thinking Patton Boggs tried to keep the acquisition of Breux-Lott quiet, think again. Not only was the photo above made, but the corporate website at http://www.pattonboggsbreauxlott.com has this language on it:
Patton Boggs LLP’s acquisition of The Breaux Lott Leadership Group (BLLG) in July 2010 combines the nation’s highest-revenue producing public policy law firm with one of the most recognizable strategic consulting and lobbying firms in public policy…
One that also touts its expertise in energy and basically doing anything to help its clients meet production objectives. Check the website:
To further the goals of a diverse set of clients, we draw upon years of experience in matters relating to production of natural resources, including the development of fossil fuels, electricity and alternative fuels. We work with key policy makers in Congress and the Administration to formulate policies that will help shape the future of energy production for years to come.
So, when Patton Boggs claims Breaux-Lott’s work for Chevron wasn’t of a legal nature, your best reaction is a hearty laugh.