The Associated Press reported today that Chevron spent $5.3 million in the last 3 months of 2009 on lobbying the federal government on everything from trade issues in Ecuador to climate change. In the midst of a mid-term election cycle it’s not exactly surprising Chevron has DOUBLED its lobbying expenditures. Hell, we expect this from major oil corporations like Chevron.
However the report of Chevron spending $5.3 million on lobbying in the 4th quarter of the fiscal year was a bit surprising given their current fiscal circumstances.
In that very same 4th quarter lobbying spending spree, Chevron’s profits plummeted 37%. Chevron shareholders are understandably upset about watching their profits fall while Chevron’s lobbying fees grew.
The 4th quarter in question was also Chevron’s then CEO David O’Reilly’s last months with the company. Quite a parting gift for the company’s shareholders!
Unfortunately the Chevron’s new CEO, John Watson, is showing no signs of changing course. This will be an historic year for Chevron and corporations across America.
Faced with losing a $27 billion environmental lawsuit in Ecuador at a time when corporations will have unchecked access to the political system, John Watson has a choice.
Continue the irresponsible financial course of his predecessor, dumping record amounts of his company’s money into lobby efforts with the likes of API and Koch Industries. Or, he could do right thing and re-direct that money to dealing with a real clean up and compensation for the people of Ecuador.
Since January of 2006 Chevron has spent $50 million on lobby efforts. Their lobby efforts may continue to grow, but so will public scrutiny. A recent Wall Street Journal article described how sensitive Chevron stock is when Chevron’s dirty operations are exposed. Last year during Chevron’s Annual shareholders meeting Chevron’s stock rapidly dropped as grassroots pressure on Chevron broke into the media cycle.
As Chevron’s 2010 shareholders meeting convenes again this May I’m curious if Chevron will begin to do what’s right and clean up their messes is these communities or will they continue to dump money into lobbyists and watch their stock and profit lines drop plummet.