“The first climate racketeering suit is here,” Slate declares.
That is not quite true. It’s just that the first big climate-change racketeering case was not what you might have expected it to be.
The first big climate racketeering case—which did not receive celebratory coverage in Slate or other likeminded media—was a successful action against corrupt climate activists who were led by Steven Donziger. That basketball buddy of Barack Obama’s with deep ties to New York Democrats had tried to extort billions of dollars from Chevron in a truly outrageous episode involving everything from bribing judges to manufacturing evidence. Beneath all the greenwashing—prominent climate activists including musician Roger Waters had a percentage interest in the corrupt case, as did a few Democratic grandees and media figures—it was, at root, one of the biggest extortion attempts in modern times. If you’d like a flavor of the action, consider this little nugget from the federal court’s opinion on the case: “The wrongful actions of Donziger and his Ecuadorian legal team would be offensive to the laws of any nation that aspires to the rule of law, including Ecuador—and they knew it. Indeed, one Ecuadorian legal team member, in a moment of panicky candor, admitted that if documents exposing just part of what they had done were to come to light, ‘apart from destroying the proceeding, all of us, your attorneys, might go to jail.’”
The court added: