What Does Allen Stanford Have in Common with Anti-Chevron Group?
Just when I thought things couldn’t get any shadier, I’ve learned that the lobbyist now representing the Amazon Defense Coalition (via Kohn Swift & Graf, P.C.) in its $27 billion lawsuit against San Ramon, Calif.-based Chevron Corporation is the same man who represented Stanford Financial Group and its now-indicted founder R. Allen Stanford between 2002 and 2008.
The Houston Chronicle reported earlier this year that lobbyist Ben Barnes had earned a cool $1.8 million representing Stanford, a man Forbes magazine listed as the 205th richest American in 2008. According to lobbying disclosure reports, that income stream began small — less than $10,000 from Stanford in 2006 – and fluctuated during the next three years: $500,000 in 2007; $165,000 in 2008; and, according to the most-recent report, $110,000 so far in 2009.
This morning, the world learned through reports in newspapers like the Los Angeles Times that Stanford has been indicted after first being accused by SEC regulators of having enriched himself by perpetrating an $8 billion investment fraud.
But is it a crime for Barnes, a long-time Democrat who once served as lieutenant governor of Texas, to earn a living by providing services to wealthy clients or to clients who stand to become super-wealthy as a result of the ADC lawsuit? Not at all. But that’s not what stinks here.
By searching the Lobbying Disclosure Database managed by the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, I learned something interesting about Barnes’ disclosure regarding his lobbying relationship with his client, Kohn Swift & Graf. In block 14 of this document (see graphic above), Barnes checked the box next to a message that reads as follows: “No –> Sign and date the registration.” By doing so, he was claiming essentially that there is no foreign entity involved in his agreement to provide lobbying services for the law firm.
While technically correct in that Kohn Swift & Graf is a Philadelphia-based law firm, only those who choose to ignore naked emperor can ignore the elephant in this virtual room. The truths are self-evident:
- Kohn Swift & Graf is funding the ADC’s lawsuit against Chevron and has, as far back as 2003, admitted having its attorneys directly involved in the case (See “U.S. lawyers take US$1 billion lawsuit against Chevron Texaco to Ecuador,” May 6, 2003);
- Steven R. Donziger, a New York-based attorney, is leading the ADC’s litigation effort;
- The lawsuit is being tried in an Ecuadoran court by an Ecuadoran judge; and
- The ADC is an Ecuador-based nonprofit organization.
No foreign entities? Reminds me of President Bill Clinton telling the nation, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” Everyone knows he did it.
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To learn more about the ADC’s spurious lawsuit against Chevron in Ecuador, read these BMW posts.