We write to request that you investigate a growing danger that well may become the equivalent of a Citizens United-like threat to critical corporate accountability efforts. Dozens of human rights and environmental organizations including The Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Amazon Watch, Friends of the Earth, Avaaz.org, and 350.org recently released a letter entitled "Chevron's Retaliatory Attacks on Human Rights and Corporate Accountability Advocates is a Threat to Open Society and Due Process of Law."
Since Citizens United, Americans have seen the corporate lobby make unprecedented and increasingly bold arguments against legal responsibility and accountability using the First Amendment's protection of free speech. At the same time, companies like Chevron have ramped up harassment of human rights and environmental activists who exercise their free speech rights to call attention to corporate abuse and advocate on behalf of victims. Chevron's efforts have been aided by our highest court system which is privileging corporations and their rights over those of actual human beings.
Without action from Congress, unchecked corporate power will continue to put at risk the very communities and activists who dare to stand up for their fundamental rights. This is unacceptable. Congress must act immediately to protect ordinary people who suffer from, and advocates who speak out, against corporate crimes.
Chevron has grossly misused the RICO statute, attacking free speech, vilifying those critical of its actions, forcing independent journalists to turn over source materials, and actively abusing the justice system both in Ecuador and the United States in an unprecedented campaign to evade responsibility for an environmental disaster stemming from massive toxic dumping it admits to having engaged in for decades in Ecuador. It has even gone so far as to sue the very Ecuadorian community members affected by its pollution as extortionists after they won a 20-year legal battle in a decision that has been upheld by Ecuador's highest court. Chevron's actions have also threatened the bedrock principle of international comity by bringing another nations entire judicial system under scrutiny in U.S. courts and attempting to prevent international enforcement of the Ecuadorian court's verdict, despite having no jurisdiction to do so.
We urge you to use your offices to investigate these issues immediately and protect the rights of those working to hold corporations accountable.
These senators have the power to investigate and help stop Chevron's abuse of the U.S legal system to attack the very people it poisoned.