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Hunton & Williams

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

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Hunton & Williams is an international law firm with 19 offices "throughout the US, Europe and Asia," according to its website. [1]

"The firm garnered attention" in 2007, "when its lawyers argued that the Clean Air Act does not give EPA the right to regulate carbon dioxide in the controversial Supreme Court case Massachusetts v. EPA," noted Greenwire. [2]

Chamber of Commerce spying proposal

Hunton & Williams received a proposal from three data security contractors for U.S. federal defense and intelligence agencies to monitor and manipulate the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's left-leaning critics, according to the Los Angeles Times, which obtained e-mail correspondence pertaining to the case. Employees of the data security contractors presented Hunton and Williams with short dossiers on a few anti-Chamber activists that included photographs, references to their families and charts of their relationships with other liberal and labor leaders. Hunton and Williams is the law firm that represents the Chamber. Hunton also represents Bank of America, and solicited a separate proposal from the same security firms to help the bank deal with a threat by WikiLeaks, to release sensitive information. The Chamber denied paying the contractors for the information, and Hunton refused to comment. Another target revealed in the emails was the Service Employees International Union.[3]

Anti-environmental lobbying

"In Massachusetts v. EPA, Hunton argued that Congress did not intend to give the EPA powers to regulate carbon dioxide when it wrote the Clean Air Act," reported The Hill. While the Supreme Court disagreed, "by the time the court announced its ruling, the firm had built up a team of energy lobbyists who could field questions from clients and congressional staff about the decision’s implications -- and work to minimize the potential damage to their clients through legislation." [4]

In its other lobbying work, "Hunton lawyers argued on behalf of Conoco [in 2006] that the company should be eligible for a $1-a-gallon tax credit for producing renewable diesel by adding animal fats to its traditional refining process. The IRS agreed. The firm's lobbyists are now working to protect that credit against efforts in Congress to limit its application to biodiesel plants, which use a different process." [4]

The firm has also represented the West Virginia Coal Association in its fight to continue mountaintop removal mining, Georgia Power in its effort to fend off a race discrimination suit brought by former employees, and the Tennessee Valley Authority in its battle to avoid installing pollution controls at its coal-fired power plants.[5]

Hunton & William is also a major lobbying force, with lobbying income of more than $2.8 million in 2010. Among its biggest lobbying clients are energy firms: Energy Future Holdings (formerly TXU Corp.), Southern Company, Gas Processors Association, FirstEnergy, and Koch Industries. Also among the firm's lobbying clients are Duke Energy and Progress Energy, and Americans for Affordable Climate Policy, a front group formed by Duke Energy and other coal utilities.[5]

Promoting coal power in Europe

The global legal firm Hunton & Williams announced in August 2012 that it had been appointed to "advise on an international tender for the design, engineering, financing, construction, operation and maintenance of" the proposed 500 megawatt Plomin C Thermal Power Plant in Croatia. The company boasted that the project was the latest in a string of work on coal-power projects in Europe. The company stated that it "has also advised Elektroprivreda Republika Srpska on the €500 million Ugljevik coal-fired power project in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The firm also advised the Government of Kosovo on the development of a new 600MW lignite-fired power plant, the rehabilitation of an existing 600MW lignite-fired power plant, and the development of an approximately 10 million tonnes per annum lignite mine outside of Pristina, Kosovo.[6]

Water Policy Institute

In June 2008, Hunton & Williams established the Water Policy Institute (WPI), a think tank "bringing together industry leaders ... to address water supply, quality and use issues." [7]

WPI is chaired by former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency chief turned PR consultant Christine Todd Whitman, with Hunton & Williams partner Kathy Robb as its director. Its founding corporate members included BP, Central Arizona Project and GE Water. [7]

"Climate change is likely to be a major topic" of the Water Policy Institute, according to a profile in the Clean Water Report. "Other topics will include the intersection of water quality and quantity; desalination; new technology; agriculture; allocation of water; and infrastructure." [8]

Tobacco ties

Hunton & Williams was counsel for Philip Morris. (PMI's Introduction to Privilege Log and Glossary of Names, Estate of Burl Butler v. PMI, et al, April 19, 1996). They are a law firm in Richmond, Virginia (USA) and were a major law firm used by Philip Morris Cos. Inc., circa 1993.(NJL 5/9/94) Attorneys T. Justin Moore III, Robert E.R. Huntley, were on the board of directors of Philip Morris Cos. Inc., circa 1993.(NJL 5/9/94)

Linked to Search for Common Ground.

HBGary, Bank of America, and the Chamber of Commerce controversy

In 2010, Aaron Barr, CEO of the technology security company HBGary Federal, alleged that he could exploit social media to gather information about hackers like those who supported WikiLeaks. In early 2011, Barr claimed to have used his techniques to infiltrate the Wikileaks supporter Anonymous, partly by using IRC, Facebook, Twitter, and social networking sites. His e-mails depict his intention to release information on the identities of Anonymous members and to sell it to possible clients.[9] In early February of 2011, the activist group Anonymous hacked the firm's website, copied tens of thousands of documents from HBGary, posted tens of thousands of company emails online, and usurped Barr's Twitter account.[10]

Some of the documents taken by Anonymous show HBGary Federal was working on behalf of Bank of America to respond to Wikileaks' planned release of the bank's internal documents.[11] The plan included "disrupting" reporter Glenn Greenwald in his support of Wikileaks. Emails detail a supposed business proposal by HBGary to assist Bank of America's law firm, Hunton & Williams, in a "dirty tricks campaign" that included proposals to fabricate "false documents"[12]: "Potential proactive tactics against WikiLeaks include feeding the fuel between the feuding groups, disinformation, creating messages around actions to sabotage or discredit the opposing organization, and submitting fake documents to WikiLeaks and then calling out the error."[13]

According to other e-mails, the Chamber of Commerce hired the lobbying firm Hunton & Williams, and attorneys for the law firm then solicited a set of private security firms — HB Gary Federal, Palantir, and Berico Technologies (collectively called Team Themis) — to develop a sabotage campaign against progressive groups and labor unions, including the group ThinkProgress, the labor coalition Change to Win, the labor union SEIU, U.S. Chamber Watch, and StopTheChamber.com. Later emails revealed that the private spy company investigated the families and children of the Chamber’s political opponents. The apparent spearhead of this project was Aaron Barr, who circulated numerous emails and documents detailing information about political opponents’ children, spouses, and personal lives.[14]

Lobbying clients

The firm's lobbying practice brought in $5,260,000 in 2007 and $2,365,000 in the first three quarters of 2008, according to the Lobbyists.info database. Lobbying clients, as of February 2009, include: [15]

Other 2008 lobbying clients listed in the OpenSecrets.org database are: [16]

Clients

The firm's website says its clients range "from start-up companies to multinational corporations. We serve clients in virtually every industry throughout the world." A "representative" list of Hunton & Williams clients includes: [17]

Contact details

Hunton & Williams LLP
1900 K Street NW
Washington, DC 20006

Phone: 202-955-1500
Fax: 202-778-2201
Web: http://www.hunton.com/

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. "Offices," Hunton & Williams website, accessed February 2009.
  2. Katherine Boyle, "WATER: Former EPA administrator to head policy institute," Greenwire, June 4, 2008.
  3. Tom Hamburger and Matea Gold, Washington Bureau Government contractors targeted Chamber of Commerce's critics, Los Angeles Times, February 15, 2011
  4. 4.0 4.1 Jim Snyder, "Hunton & Williams fires up lobbying practice," The Hill, July 18, 2007.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Sue Sturgis, "Well-connected law firm involved in dirty-trick plot against activists, journalists" Facing South, Feb. 16, 2011.
  6. "Hunton & Williams Advises on €800m Power Plant in Croatia", Media Release, August 17, 2012.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Press release, "Water Industry Leaders Launch Water Policy Institute to Address Current Challenges: Christine Todd Whitman to serve as chair; Hunton & Williams lawyer as director," Hunton & Williams, June 4, 2008.
  8. "New water institute seeks to convene diverse voices," Clean Water Report, June 18, 2008.
  9. How one man tracked down Anonymous - and paid a heavy price By Nate Anderson, updated 2-10-2011, Ars Technica, retr 2011-02-11
  10. Bright, Peter (2011-02-15). Anonymous speaks: the inside story of the HBGary hack. Law & Disorder: Tech Law and Policy in the Digital Age. Ars Technica. Retrieved on 18 February 2011.
  11. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named james_wray_and_ulf_stabe
  12. Leyden, John (2011-02-17). Anonymous security firm hack used every trick in book. Enterprise Security. The Register. Retrieved on 18 February 2011.
  13. Firm targeting WikiLeaks cuts ties with HBGary - apologizes to reporter Steve Ragan, Tech Herald, 2 11 2011, retr 2011 02 11
  14. Joseph Romm, "Bombshell: Chamber of Commerce lobbyists solicited firm to investigate opponents’ families, children" ThinkProgress, Feb. 13, 2011.
  15. "Hunton & Williams LLP," Lobbyists.info (sub req'd), accessed February 2009.
  16. "Lobbying spending 2008: Hunton & Williams," OpenSecrets.org, accessed February 2009.
  17. "Our clients," Hunton & Williams website, accessed February 2009.

External resources

External articles


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