"[Chevron] has no intention of giving these plaintiffs' lawyers the payday they seek."
– R. Hewitt Pate, in a typically callous attempt to distract from the fact that people are suffering in Ecuador because of Chevron’s oil pollution
R. Hewitt Pate and his colleagues in the Chevron legal department — including Jim Haynes and Pate’s predecessor, Charles James — all played central roles in the George W. Bush Administration. It is not a coincidence, in other words, that Chevron's entire strategy for evading its responsibility to clean up Ecuador is based on deflecting attention from the facts of the case by employing the same dirty political tricks perfected by Karl Rove.
These tricks include making up or grossly misrepresenting the “facts” and then fomenting a bogus media controversy to hype this self-serving and less-than-truthful version of events. Pate took the lead in just such a maneuver when he was the company’s chief spokesman presenting "newly discovered" evidence that the independent expert who conducted the damages assessment in the Ecuadorean Amazon, Dr. Richard Cabrera, owns a remediation company in Ecuador. Cabrera had properly disclosed his involvement with environmental remediation in Ecuador and did not stand to make any money from remediation of Chevron’s oil pollution. Chevron and Hewitt Pate knew these facts perfectly well, but reality doesn’t necessarily factor into the legal strategy Pate has created for Chevron – just as, as one LA Times writer put it, “Rovism posits that there is no objective, verifiable reality at all. Reality is what you say it is.”
Political Ideologues-Turned Corporate Lawyers
Chevron’s political ideologues-turned corporate lawyers represent a major departure from the rest of the Big Oil companies. Most hire their general counsels from within their own legal department or from prestigious outside law firms. Chevron, on the other hand, recruits political lawyers straight out of Republican Administrations. The last two general counsels for Chevron, Charles James and Pate, were hired away from the Bush administration's Justice Department, where they worked closely with former Attorney General John Ashcroft.
Chevron's Torture Lawyer
James, who has a reputation for being a rabid right wing ideologue, personally selected Pate as his successor, and also chose to hire Jim Haynes as Chevron's deputy general counsel. Haynes will probably never be seen publicly representing Chevron as Pate has done, however, because he is better known as one of the Bush Administration’s "torture lawyers." While Chevron keeps Haynes safely behind-the-scenes, it’s widely believed that he is running the day-to-day operations of Chevron's in-house legal department. Haynes came well prepared to uphold Chevron's concept of “human rights” given his experience providing the legal “justification” for torture while working at Donald Rumsfeld’s Pentagon, where Haynes served as General Counsel. He was later blocked by the Senate from being appointed to a federal bench because of his infamous memo justifying waterboarding as an interrogation technique.
With these guys running its in-house legal team, Chevron has clearly chosen to build a general counsel's office full of right-wing lawyers who have relatively little experience in complex litigation matters. Since Chevron's legal team is led by political ideologues, it’s no surprise the company is trying to find a political solution to its legal problems.