Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Chevron CEO Watson Leaves a Legacy of Toxic Waste

Reposted from Eye on the Amazon

Wanted: Chevron CEO John Watson

After seven dreadful years, Chevron CEO John Watson recently made a surprise announcement that he is finally slinking off with his tail between his legs. Yet the world will continue to suffer from the disastrous effects of his terrible decisions for many years to come. Amazon Watch's history with Watson dates back to Chevron's merger with Texaco. John Watson was a principal architect of that merger, and at a Chevron shareholder meeting we presented him with a great deal of information about Texaco's environmental disaster in Ecuador and warned that if the merger went through then Chevron would necessarily assume all liability to clean up the worst oil-related disaster in history. Watson ignored us.

In 2010, Watson became CEO on the eve of the largest environmental judgment ever won against an oil company, in which Chevron was ordered to pay $9.5 billion to clean up Texaco's toxic mess. Chevron lost that trial after years of efforts to delay and derail it, and after thousands of pages of scientific evidence – much of which provided by Chevron's own experts – demonstrated the damage caused by Texaco's deliberate dumping and shoddy operations. At the time of that judgement, Watson had another chance to listen to the appeals of the people of Ecuador and finally do the right thing.

Not only did Watson refuse to take responsibility and clean up the toxic waste still poisoning these communities, but he focused the full weight of Chevron's legal and public relations might on demonizing the Ecuadorians and their lawyers, and he even countersued them, alleging extortion. The company is even seeking $32 million in legal fees in an attempt to personally bankrupt Steven Donziger, a key member of the legal team that achieved the historic judgment in Ecuador. We at Amazon Watch were pulled into Chevron's sham suit as an alleged "co-conspirator" for standing with the communities who sued to clean up their homes. It's estimated that, to date, Chevron has spent as much as $2 billion just to avoid cleaning up the toxic waste that Texaco admitted dumping in Ecuador.

In what some see as an existential threat to corporate accountability work in the U.S., Watson and his team also sought to trample the First Amendment rights of anyone who had ever dared to speak out about the company: journalists, bloggers, lawyers, advocacy organizations, activists, and even its own shareholders. Chevron's legal and public relations teams built a practice on intimidating its critics.

During his time as CEO, Chevron even approved payments to company witnesses and bribed them to falsify evidence and testimony in U.S. federal court. With these tactics, CEO Watson helped pave the way for a new wave of "racketeering" lawsuits that have since been filed by other corporations against a variety of environmental and human rights organizations, such as our friends at Greenpeace and the Sierra Club.

Under Watson's misleadership, Chevron has distinguished itself as the worst U.S. oil company by eliminating its renewable energy program, closing its corporate social responsibility department, and attempting to influence politics by spending more on super-PACs than any other corporation immediately after the Citizens United decision.

In short, it would be hard for Chevron to do worse than Watson and we are thrilled to see him go. The company is still facing a collection action in Canada for its $9.5 billion debt to the people of Ecuador. A new CEO will have an opportunity to finally break with Chevron's abusive past and respect the rule of law and the environment.

Watson spent his time as CEO trying to make it harder for the environmental and human rights community to challenge corporate power, but we stand united and will continue to hold Chevron to account, no matter who is at the helm.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Chevron CEO Watson Tarred His Own Legacy by Fumbling Environmental Issues

Reposted from The Chevron Pit.

Burdened with a series of intractable problems, Chevron CEO John Watson announced this week that he is stepping down after seven years at the helm of America's second-largest energy company. He will be remembered far more for saddling Chevron with huge environmental liabilities than for delivering value to shareholders.

Watson's legacy is to leave Chevron with a bleak long-term prognosis. While the fossil fuel industry faces unprecedented structural pressures, Chevron is arguably in a worse position than its peers. Watson made a disastrous bet in Australia on the Gorgon natural gas project, a move that landed him in major trouble with tax authorities and saddled Chevron with at least $20 billion in cost overruns.

But let's focus on Watson's most obvious mistake, Ecuador.

Ecuador is the place where Watson literally has blood on his hands for failing to address the fallout from Texaco's deliberate dumping of billions of gallons of toxic waste into the rainforest when it operated six huge oil fields from 1964 to 1992. The dumping -- called the Amazon Chernobyl by locals -- decimated indigenous nationalities and continues to kill scores of innocent people as confirmed by multiple academic studies and various court rulings.

While Chevron left Ecuador in 1992, the company's toxic legacy -- including roughly 1,000 open-air toxic waste pits -- continues to cause grievous harm to the local population. Under Watson's recommendation, Chevron bought Texaco in 2001 and now owns the Ecuador problem.

A successful litigation brought by local communities to repair the damage has captured the imagination of the world. The legal battle led to a $9.5 billion judgment in Ecuador in the venue where Chevron accepted jurisdiction and where it had insisted the trial be held. Chevron could have settled the claims for a relative pittance years ago. But under Watson, the Ecuador liability has now ballooned to $12 billion (with interest) in Canada, where the villagers are enforcing their judgment.

In Canada, the country's Supreme Court in 2015 unanimously backed an effort to try to seize Chevron assets to pay for the clean-up. Major international law scholars and civil society organizations, including Amazon Watch, also have backed the villagers.

Watson was the Chevron executive in charge of merging with Texaco back in 2001. At the time, environmental groups such as Amazon Watch warned him about the massive pending liability in Ecuador; he ignored the warnings, which perhaps explains why he doubled down and started attacking his victims and their lawyers. He also ordered a $2 million payment be made to a witness to lie in order to help the company cover-up its disastrous policy.

At the time Watson was director of Chevron's acquisitions, Chevron grossly overpaid for Texaco's assets given that there was no accounting for the Ecuador clean-up costs. But arrogance is Watson's hallmark personality trait.

Angry at being challenged by shareholders and activists, Watson and his General Counsel R. Hewitt Pate launched the most expensive corporate "defense" in history. They threatened the Ecuadorian villagers with a "lifetime of litigation" if they persisted. They had five shareholders arrested at an annual meeting after they challenged the company's Ecuador policy. Chevron's lawyers even fabricated evidence to secure a favorable "judgment" in a farcical non-jury trial in U.S. federal court, making a mockery of justice in the process.

A Chevron official wrote an email saying Watson's main litigation strategy was to "demonize" Steven Donziger, the tenacious Harvard-educated human rights lawyer who has led the fight against Chevron for years. Donziger personally deposed Watson in 2013 in New York. Although the pro-Chevron judge sealed the deposition -- a ridiculous and unnecessary move -- we can assert with certainty that Watson came across as an angry and petty man.

Watson even told Forbes he would stop the Ecuador litigation only when Donziger and the lawyers "give up" and quit the case. That's an intimidation strategy, not a litigation strategy worthy of a major public company that purports to behave ethically.

Watson tapped into shareholder resources to hire at least 2,000 lawyers and 60 law firms to try to beat back the courageous indigenous villagers -- another massive cost suck that suggests Gorgon was not Watson's only spending problem. In his latest maneuver, Watson has ordered his lawyers to illegally try to collect $32 million in legal fees from longtime nemesis Donziger.

Chevron's refinery in the California town of Richmond is another example of Watson's short-sightedness. Major fires at the refinery have spewed so much toxic waste that 15,000 local residents have been forced to receive medical attention. Rather than shut down or at least update the refinery, Watson tried to take over the town by financing a slate of candidates for city council while secretly funding an on-line newspaper to spew pro-Chevron propaganda.

Under Watson's leadership, Chevron has tried to buy its way out of its litigation problems by spending heavily in the political world rather than compensate the company's victims. Watson ordered Chevron to be a major donor to the Trump inauguration and other Koch-funded initiatives designed to increase corporate power. Watson also donated millions of Chevron dollars to the Clinton Foundation and the U.S. State Department during the Obama Administration at the same time his team was inappropriately lobbying to try to kill off the Ecuador liability.

Watson was willing to take extraordinary risks for the leader of a public company. His corrupt witness payments to Guerra and another Chevron employee, the infamous Diego Borja, continue to this day. With Watson's blessing, Chevron also spent at least $15 million on the corporate espionage firm Kroll to spy on Donziger and his colleagues and to try to enlist independent journalists to go undercover in Ecuador on the company's behalf.

Chevron's next CEO will need to clean up Watson's dastardly mess in Ecuador. Indigenous people are still dying in the Amazon because of the company's failure to address its toxic legacy. It's long past time for Chevron's Board to admit that Watson only has made matters worse both for the people of Ecuador and the company's own shareholders.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Haunted by Ecuador Judgment, Chevron Now Trying To Impose $32 Million "Fine" on Lawyer Who Beat It in Court

Reposted from The Chevron Pit.

While fossil fuel giant Chevron still refuses to pay its $12 billion environmental judgment to the indigenous groups it poisoned in Ecuador, company CEO John Watson apparently has found the time to try to impose a massive $32 million liability on the solo human rights lawyer who beat his company in court.

As background, it is undeniable that Harvard Law grad and American human rights advocate Steven Donziger did something so extraordinary to hold Chevron accountable for its environmental crimes that Watson decided to launch a crusade against him. Working against huge odds with a team of Ecuadorian rainforest leaders and local lawyers, Donziger spent eight years (2003 to 2011) coordinating the litigation in Ecuador against Chevron over the deliberate dumping of billions of gallons of chemical-laced oil waste into the rainforest. The case took place in Ecuador at Chevron's insistence and the company accepted jurisdiction there.

After overcoming Chevron's repeated attempts to sabotage the proceeding, a court in 2011 found the company guilty and imposed a $19 billion judgment that was halved when a punitive damages penalty was struck. (The amount is now $12 billion because of interest.) It is without doubt the largest environmental judgment in history from a single court case. Chevron's toxic dumping in Ecuador decimated indigenous groups and caused an outbreak of cancer that has killed or threatens to kill thousands of innocent people. Locals call the catastrophe the "Amazon Chernobyl; this photo essay by acclaimed journalist Lou Demettais captures the brutal human cost of what can only be described as a deliberate act of industrial homicide.

The Ecuador trial-level decision against Chevron  -- based on voluminous evidence including 105 technical evidentiary reports -- was affirmed unanimously by two separate appellate courts in Ecuador, including by the country's Supreme Court. Not even Chevron disputes that it dumped the toxic waste or that it was the exclusive operator of the oil fields. But to evade paying the judgment from its preferred forum, Chevron tried to cover up its criminal misconduct.

Chevron hired 60 law firms and roughly 2,000 lawyers and investigators in part to cook up fake evidence to file a "racketeering" (or RICO) case against Donziger, Ecuadorian lawyer Pablo Fajardo, community leader Luis Yanza, and all 47 of the courageous villagers from the affected area who stepped forward as class representatives. As part of its intimidation model, Chevron General Counsel R. Hewitt Pate promised the indigenous groups and their lawyers a "lifetime of litigation" if they persisted.

Part of that model was to retaliate against Donziger personally back in New York federal court in an unprecedented collateral attack on a foreign judgment. Another Chevron goal was to use the retaliation case to try to intimidate lawyers and supporters of the villagers with the threat of harassing lawsuits. Chevron also peddled its false narrative from the case to the financial markets to distract from the Ecuador liability and to prop up the company's stock price.

A distinguished member of two bar associations, Donziger is a solo practitioner who along with environmental groups such as Amazon Watch and shareholder activist Simon Billenness has driven the accountability campaign against Chevron for over two decades.

Described as a man of "Herculean tenacity" by Bloomberg, Donziger is also known for creating a new human rights funding paradigm that has allowed the impoverished indigenous groups of Ecuador to sustain their case for years against one of the world's richest companies. The private financing model alone surely terrifies Chevron. Fossil fuel companies are not used to their victims being represented by top-flight litigators like Canada's Alan Lenczner or Brazil's Sergio Bermudes, who are trying to seize Chevron assets to force it to comply with the rule of law and pay the judgment.

If Chevron's so-called "retaliation" case against Donziger and the Ecuadorians was designed to silence their campaign, it obviously failed. Left with little to show for its massive expenditures on RICO given that the villagers are successfully enforcing their judgment in Canada -- with the Canada Supreme Court already ruling in their favor -- Chevron is now trying to "punish" Donziger back home. (For more on Chevron's difficulties in Canada from the Ecuador liability, see here.)

Chevron's attacks only serve to underscore the extent of the bullying approach being used. In fact, it is no less than staggering to see the extent of Chevron's cowardice in the context of its attacks against Donziger and the Ecuadorian indigenous groups. These attacks happened after Chevron sold off all of its assets in Ecuador as the evidence against it mounted.

Chevron generates revenue at roughly $200 billion per annum and pays its top lawyers at the firm Gibson Dunn $1,500 per hour; Donziger lives and works out of a small apartment in Manhattan while most of his clients are lucky to make $200 monthly. When Donziger and the villagers challenged Chevron's claim that the entire Ecuador lawsuit was "sham" litigation, the company dropped part of its claim to avoid producing internal documents related to its toxic dumping. (See here and here for articles Donziger has written about the case of the indigenous groups against Chevron.)

After having sued Donziger for roughly $60 billion, Chevron dropped all damages claims on the eve of trial in what can only be described as a bombshell retreat to avoid a jury of impartial fact finders. While that move took away any remaining legitimacy from Chevron's bogus case, it did allow the proceeding to be tried alone by a pro-corporate judge (Lewis A. Kaplan) who repeatedly made comments from the bench that the villagers interpreted as racist. Chevron also hired the corporate espionage firm Kroll to spy on Donziger while deploying at least 114 lawyers to fight him in court.

Under the U.S. Constitution, anybody sued for money damages has the right to a trial by jury. By dropping its damages claims out of fear Donziger would defeat its lawyers before a jury, Chevron bailed on the main part of its case to leave the dirty work to Judge Kaplan. One of Kaplan's first moves was to exclude the scientific evidence of pollution used to convict Chevron in Ecuador.

Judge Kaplan also prevented Donziger from telling his side of the story in open court as part of a series of rulings that seemed more in sync with a judicial apparatchik in Putin's Russia than a neutral federal judge. For a comprehensive summary of how Chevron made a mockery of justice in Kaplan's court, see here and read Donziger's appellate brief. Prominent attorney John Keker also accused Kaplan of showing "implacable hostility" toward Donziger and allowing the matter to "degenerate into a Dickensian farce" unworthy of any civilized country.

Chevron also used the Kaplan proceeding to unveil a new corporate playbook: invest massive sums to try to weaponize the American civil justice system to flog those holding it accountable. Chevron issued subpoenas to more than 100 environmental activists, bloggers, and academics who had some connection to the Ecuadorian communities. Yet at bottom Chevron had nothing other than a series of procedural complaints about the conduct of the Ecuador trial that already had been either corrected or rejected by Ecuador's courts.

With virtually nothing to work with, Chevron's lawyers became so desperate that they paid an admittedly corrupt Ecuadorian witness at least $2 million in cash and benefits to lie in Kaplan's court. That witness, Alberto Guerra, claimed Chevron lost the case because Donziger had arranged for a bribe to be paid to the trial judge so that his Ecuadorian legal team could "ghostwrite" the judgment. Guerra's claims have been thoroughly debunked by scientific evidence and rejected by three layers of courts in Ecuador, and by two appellate courts in Canada. Guerra later admitted under oath that he had lied repeatedly on the stand before Kaplan.

Kangaroo proceedings clearly produce kangaroo results that continue to haunt Chevron.

Chevron CEO Watson and his besieged General Counsel R. Hewitt Pate still stand by the fake "bribe" story. They pump millions of dollars of company funds into the Gibson Dunn law firm to propagate the core falsehood. Kaplan also refuses to set aside his ludicrous decision that the Ecuador judgment was obtained by fraud even though Chevron's case has fallen apart, potentially exposing the company and its lawyers to criminal liability.

The campaign against Donziger has become such an obsession to Watson and his management team that it threatens a serious blowback. Watson and Pate essentially have bet their jobs on the RICO case given the massive investment of resources in fabricating false evidence and attacking the human rights community. Major Chevron investors are furious and shareholder resolutions connected to the Ecuador liability have received widespread support in recent years.

Given that Chevron caved when it came time to test its evidence before a jury, the company is now trying to paralyze Donziger on the back end by insisting he pay the company $32 million to cover a small part of its legal fees in creating the sham allegations. The effort  is a clear violation of the RICO law and the Constitution, as this court submission by Donziger points out. Simply put, there is no legal authority for Chevron to collect legal fees after it fabricated evidence and denied its adversary a jury.

In what can only be described as a situation that evokes shades of modern-day Russia, the same pro-Chevron judge in the U.S. (Kaplan) who already refused to hear evidence that Chevron defrauded the court to frame Donziger now gets to hear the motion to force Donziger to pay Chevron's fees for the work of its lawyers in framing him. That's not how the rule of law is supposed to be administered in a society with an independent judiciary.

(If you think the Russia comparison is inapt, read about a Russian lawyer named Magnitsky who was framed by multiple judges with fake evidence when he uncovered a massive tax fraud a few years ago. The book Red Notice by the American Bill Browder is the best account.)

Chevron's plan to try to use the case to isolate Donziger and his allies in the environmental community also has backfired. The villagers and their lawyers continue to garner deep support around the world. Among those in their camp are a brave U.S. Congressmaninternational law experts from nine countries, 17 environmental and human rights groupsmembers of the European Parliament, and artists such as actor and producer Trudie Styler and Sting.

A retaliatory legal action so petty and desperate from one of the world's largest corporations against a brave lawyer who stood up to Chevron's 2,000-person team would be hard to find in the history of America. The attacks against Donziger decidedly will not help Chevron diminish its growing risk from the Ecuador judgment. And we will see if the beleaguered Chevron legal team at Chevron's outside law firm of Gibson Dunn -- which had marketed itself as a "rescue squad" to save Chevron from the Ecuador liability -- will be able to survive its growing reputation as a serial ethical violator and fake fraud-producer for clients guilty of scandalous behavior.

Besides confronting a fading a business model in a world transitioning to clean energy, there is little doubt Chevron and other oil companies collectively face more than one trillion dollars of unbooked liability for causing environmental damage over many decades. The Ecuador judgment could be the first of many to come. Hence, the massive expenditures to try to kill off the Ecuador case continue.

Donziger and the Ecuadorian villagers have a $12 billion judgment against Chevron. If Chevron succeeds in obtaining a $32 million judgment against one lawyer who has little chance of paying even a small fraction of it, so be it. Anyone keeping score realizes that Chevron is getting devastated.

Chevron's latest attack on Donziger also underscores that bullying often trumps serious merits-based litigation at the highest levels of the fossil fuel industry. Chevron's attempts to defame its victims will not play well in Canada in the upcoming trial to enforce the Ecuador judgment. Chevron has an estimated $25 billion of assets in Canada or more than enough to pay the entirety of the amount it owes to the people it harmed in Ecuador.

The Canada trial likely will result in a remediation paid by Chevron of a humanitarian disaster that never had to happen. Now that it has, Chevron needs to stop presenting fake evidence to courts and cheating the people it poisoned in Ecuador.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Bloomberg Should Fire Legal Reporter Paul Barrett For His Blatant Bias

Reposted from The Chevron Pit.

When is Bloomberg going to finally wake up and fire reporter Paul Barrett for his overall crappy reporting and his repeated bias in favor of Chevron in its scorched-earth campaign to evade paying the $12 billion Ecuador environmental judgment?

The latest example of Barrett's gutter-level pro-business "reporting" comes from a Bloomberg article last week about the latest attempt by a major corporation with environmental problems to use the RICO (or "racketeering") statute to try to intimidate and silence its activist adversaries. The article details how Resolute, a Canadian timber company, has accused Greenpeace of being a "global fraud" after the organization claimed the company was trying to destroy the Boreal forests in Canada.

Let's get this straight: Greenpeace is in the right (see this great video for its version of the case) to accuse Resolute of poor environmental practices. But even it was wrong, does that give a corporation the right to use RICO to claim Greenpeace is like the mob for calling it out?

For that matter, does the RICO statute which was passed by Congress to target the mob give corporations the right to try to sue Greenpeace or any other organization out of existence for exercising its First Amendment speech rights? That's what some corporations and their cheerleader-reporters like Barrett seem to think.

What Barrett should be writing about is how an increasing number of corporate litigation counter-attacks against activists and human rights lawyers are becoming a real threat to our democracy and to free expression. For background on this dangerous global trend, see this compelling blog by Otto Saki of the Ford Foundation and this analysis by Katie Redford of Earth Rights International. These important perspectives are absent from Barrett's reporting.

Now, to Barrett's bias in favor of his favorite oil company Chevron. In the latest article, Barrett tries to artificially give the shaky Resolute lawsuit some heft by comparing it to the RICO judgment Chevron obtained against American lawyer Steven Donziger and his Ecuadorian clients who won a historic $12 billion judgment against the company after it had dumped billions of gallons of toxic waste into the Amazon, decimating indigenous tribes and causing an outbreak of cancer.

(See here for a summary of the overwhelming evidence against Chevron in the Ecuador case and here for the peer-reviewed studies showing high cancer rates in the affected area.)

In the RICO case, evidence demonstrates that Chevron fabricated evidence of a judicial bribe by illegally paying its star witness, Alberto Guerra, a $2 million bribe in exchange for his false testimony. The case fell apart after trial after Guerra admitted he lied repeatedly on the stand and a forensic analysis of the Ecuador trial judge's computers proved he wrote the judgment, contrary to Guerra's testimony that it had been ghostwritten by lawyers for the plaintiffs.

Chevron used hundreds of lawyers to target Donziger, a solo practitioner and human rights attorney. The company admitted its long-term strategy was to "demonize" him. But Chevron's lawyers, in an act of utter cowardice, dropped all damages claims against Donziger on the eve of the RICO trial to avoid a jury of impartial fact finders. This resulted in a ridiculous "judgment" from an arrogant, pro-business federal judge that Barrett constantly lauds in his reporting.

If you want to understand the utter depravity of Chevron's RICO case and why it has completely collapsed since trial, see this press release and this 33-page response to the erroneous findings of the trial judge. But you will hear none of these facts in Barrett's reporting. In his article on the Resolute lawsuit, he writes about the Chevron case as follows:
Chevron proved that its activist foes had transformed their suit against the company into an extortion plot featuring bribery, fabrication of evidence, and the ghostwriting of judicial opinions.
Really? As the above reports prove, this type of analysis is just flat-out wrong and deceptive. The totality of the evidence proves there was no bribe or ghostwriting and the only party to fabricate evidence in the RICO case was Chevron. Yet Barrett has completely ignored these critical developments. He does not even give a nod to the idea of a competing narrative. The perspective of Donziger and his clients is just flat-out missing from much of his reporting for Bloomberg.

While Barrett used his Bloomberg platform to repeatedly shill for Chevron during the RICO trial in 2013, he has never reported on the collapse of Chevron's RICO evidence and still acts as if the flawed judgment in that case is End of Story. Yet that RICO judgment is now virtually worthless to Chevron in courts around the world that are threatening to seize company assets. And, Chevron's RICO strategy has not stopped the Ecuadorian villagers from pursuing their claims in what surely has become one of the most successful corporate-accountability campaigns of all time.

Chevron now faces a veritable mountain of liability ($12 billion) in Canada in a judgment enforcement action that already won the unanimous backing of the country's Supreme Court -- another key development never reported on by Barrett. That's on top of the dozens of factual errors, use of outright plagiarism, and the fictionalized scenes in Barrett's supposedly non-fiction book on the Ecuador case that was rushed out in 2014 to celebrate Chevron's supposed "victory" over Donziger that never was.

The credibility of that book -- most of which could have been written by Chevron's public relations team -- was utterly destroyed in a point-by-point takedown by Donziger himself. Donziger, by the way, is still happily working to hold this monster corporation accountable for its environmental misconduct in jurisdictions around the world.

Barrett's errors in his Ecuador reporting curiously always point in one direction -- Chevron's. He has denied the truth about what really happened to the indigenous people of Ecuador, whitewashed the company's environmental crimes and fraud, and celebrated the "genius" of corporations that use the profits they suck out of the earth to manipulate the civil justice system and violate the constitutional rights of their adversaries.

The fact Barrett is part of a troika of business reporters who for years have shamelessly carried Chevron's water for its disastrous behavior in Ecuador is a real stain on Bloomberg's reputation.

To maintain her own credibility, Bloomberg editor Megan Murphy should get rid of this dinosaur once and for all. Bloomberg should assign a reporter to the Chevron legal beat who can write about these critically important matters with a more balanced perspective.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

George Mason Law Professor Is Chevron's New Stooge in Ecuador Pollution Case

Reposted from The Chevron Pit.

Note to George Mason University law students: exercise extreme caution when dealing with Professor Michael I. Krauss, a self-proclaimed "expert" in ethics who in his spare time shills for Chevron's criminal cover-up of its toxic dumping in Ecuador's Amazon rainforest. You might want to ask Krauss in his next ethics class if his obvious ties to Chevron and his obfuscation of the truth compromise the academic standards of George Mason.

As background, Krauss teaches at a university that has received major funding from the Koch Brothers and their largely anonymous network of right-wing donors exposed brilliantly in Jane Mayer's book Dark Money. The Kochs have donated tens of millions of dollars to turn George Mason into a "libertarian mecca" that serves as a beachhead near the nation's capital for political and academic attacks on almost any form of government regulation. (See pages 149-151 of Mayer's book for background.)

We have no problem if Krauss is an avowed libertarian, even if his university has sold its soul to right-wing donors. We do have a problem with his estranged relationship with the truth.

In fact, in his many blog posts on Forbes on the Chevron case, Krauss repeatedly ignores, obfuscates, and distorts the most basic facts to apologize for the company's atrocious behavior in Ecuador as found by multiple courts around the world. Unlike the propagandistic blog posts of Krauss, these court findings are based on voluminous scientific evidence and peer-reviewed and scholarly research.

Consider what Krauss ignores in his posts about Chevron's role in creating a catastrophe so massive it is called the "Amazon Chernobyl" by locals:

**Chevron was found by three layers of courts in Ecuador -- the country where company lawyers had insisted the trial be held -- to have deliberately and systematically dumped billions of gallons of toxic oil waste into the waterways of the Amazon rainforest over a two-decade period, decimating indigenous groups and causing an untold number of cancer deaths. The court decisions were based on more than 105 technical evidentiary reports and Chevron's own admissions. Ecuador's highest court unanimously affirmed Chevron's liability.

Here is what Krauss ignores and doesn't want you to see: a summary of the overwhelming evidence against Chevron; a legal brief that explains the horrific history of the company's toxic dumping, subterfuge, fraud, and criminal cover-up in Ecuador and the United States; and a summary of the peer-reviewed health studies that show high cancer rates and other impacts.

**Initially sued by indigenous villagers in New York federal court in 1993, Chevron praised Ecuador's justice system and accepted jurisdiction in the country thinking it could engineer a political dismissal of the case. After that failed, and with the scientific evidence against it mounting, Chevron sold its assets in Ecuador to evade paying any eventual judgment. Making a total mockery of the rule of law, Chevron then went into lockdown mode and tried to sabotage and paralyze the very trial it insisted on having. It once filed 39 repetitive motions in less than one hour just to tie up the court.

**Ultimately, Chevron was found liable in its preferred forum of Ecuador and ordered to pay $9.5 billion in damages and costs -- a pittance compared to the roughly $50 billion BP has paid out for the much smaller Gulf of Mexico spill in 2010. Yet rather than pay the judgment and clean up the toxic disaster it caused, Chevron threatened the indigenous groups who brought the claims with a "lifetime of litigation" if they persisted.

**Making good on its threat, Chevron retaliated by suing the plaintiffs and their lawyers under the civil RICO law back in the same U.S. court where it refused to defend the underlying claims. The company again made an utter mockery of justice, dropping all damages claims on the eve of trial to avoid a jury of impartial fact finders. Chevron then bribed a witness with a $2 million payment to claim that the judgment in Ecuador was "ghostwritten" by the plaintiffs -- an absolute lie that has since been proven wrong by a forensic examination.

For background on Chevron's criminal legal violations and witness bribery, see this brief filed before the U.S. Supreme Court, this legal submission, and this press release. Krauss also ignores the fact that 17 prominent human rights groups and 19 international law scholars have sided with the villagers in their campaign against Chevron.

**The bribed Chevron witness, Alberto Guerra, later admitted that he repeatedly lied under oath on behalf of the company in the U.S. federal court proceeding. Separately, a forensic examination by the American expert J. Christopher Racich demonstrated that the Ecuador trial judge wrote the decision against Chevron on his office computer, contradicting Guerra's false claim that it had been given to the trial judge on a flash drive just before it was issued.

**In the meantime, the Supreme Courts of two countries -- Ecuador and Canada -- have unanimously rejected Chevron's fabricated "fraud" claims and ruled in favor of the villagers. The affected communities and their legal team are currently trying to seize company assets in Canada and Brazil to force compliance with the Ecuador judgment. The next hearing in Canada is this October in Toronto.

**In total, 18 judges appellate judges in Ecuador and Canada have ruled in favor of the villagers. Yet Krauss writes only about a rogue decision from one U.S. federal judge who relied on false evidence fabricated from Chevron for his findings. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals refused to review those false findings, as did the U.S. Supreme Court.

Because of its corrupt acts in Ecuador and the United States and its utter disdain for the rule of law, Chevron now finds itself in serious trouble. It faces possible criminal and civil jeopardy for its cover-up in addition to its $12 billion environmental liability (rising $300 million per year because of interest) to the people of Ecuador. Company management, led by CEO John Watson, also faces a shareholder revolt over its unethical behavior in trying to evade paying the Ecuador judgment.

In his latest blog, Krauss tried to claim that a recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to deny review of the deeply flawed RICO decision somehow vindicates the rule of law. Not true. The Supreme Court actually is turning a blind eye to the rule of law. Consider this shameful fact: no U.S. appellate court ever considered evidence of Chevron's contamination, the company's bribes of its star witness, the admissions by the Chevron witness that he lied under oath, or the results of a forensic examination that completely exposes the RICO decision for the fraud that it is.

Krauss also suggests that Steven Donziger, one of the American lawyers for the villagers who has courageously led the fight against Chevron, should be disbarred based on the company's fabricated evidence. Chevron has admitted its strategy in the case is "to demonize" Donziger rather than defend on the merits. Playing Chevron's game on this point is not only unethical, but could lead to serious problems for Krauss. Calling publicly for a fellow lawyer to be disbarred based on false evidence is itself a major violation of the rules of ethics.

This sad episode with Krauss reminds us of another law professor from Notre Dame who also allowed himself to be used as a Chevron stooge in the Ecuador matter, with disastrous results. That professor, Douglas Cassell, was slapped down by Notre Dame's administration for hiding the fact he was receiving payments from Chevron while shilling publicly for the oil giant. He was also forced to remove all of his Chevron materials from his page on the school's website. For background, see here.

Krauss should be forced to disclose to his students, the George Mason administration, and Forbes why he he has posted so many misleading blogs that try to apologize for Chevron's environmental crimes and fraudulent cover up. Is is possible that he too is being paid by Chevron or any of the many groups funded by the oil company? Has Chevron donated money to George Mason? If so, why has Krauss not disclosed these obvious conflicts of interest?

We might add that Krauss brags on his resume for having arranged the largest ever "anonymous" donation to George Mason. He might start the process of complying with his ethical obligations by disclosing whether Mr. Anonymous made his money in the fossil fuel industry, whether he is Charles or David Koch, or whether he might have something to do with Chevron. And Krauss might be forced by the George Mason law faculty to cease teaching "ethics" until he comes clean on his own ethical issues.

The personal reputation of Krauss, and by extension that of the entire law faculty at George Mason, is in play. The university has a robust ethics policy. It should be enforced. In the meantime, it is pretty safe to conclude that the blog posts of Krauss on the Chevron case are that of a political hack, not that of a law scholar.