Court records show Kerry Kennedy, daughter of the late Sen Robert F. Kennedy and the ex-wife of NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo, stands to make as much as $40 million in a secret deal to publicly rail against oil drilling in Ecuador, according to an eye-popping report published Sunday in the New York Post.
Paid by the legal team representing residents of the Ecuadorian town of Lago Agrio, Kennedy wrote op-eds and lobbied government officials about damage oil companies caused 1,700 square miles of jungle.
The oilfield surrounding the town has reportedly brought ecological destruction and sickened villagers. In a 2011 ruling unprecedented for its size, a judge in the South American country ordered Chevron, now the owner of Texaco, to pay $18 billion in civil damages stemming from its drilling operation there.
The court documents detail a $50,000 payment, reimbursement for $40,000 in expenses and plans for a $10,000 monthly retainer. They also disclose that Kennedy was to receive a share in any court judgments paid out by the oil company — an amount that the Post said was worth up to $40 million.
The RFK Memorial Center for Human Rights also pays Kennedy $225,239 per year to serve as its president.
In a November 2009 op-ed for the liberal Huffington Post, Kennedy wrote that the Lago Agrio oilfields were “Chevron’s Chernobyl in the Amazon,” and called the situation “an issue of human rights — clear violations of the indigenous Ecuadoreans’ rights to life, security, and self-determination.”
“[A]s an American, I am appalled that a corporation from our country would treat innocent people with such disdain,” Kennedy added.
Neither Kennedy nor the Huffington Post disclosed that she was a hired shill.
After Chevron’s 2001 acquisition of Texaco, it aid for a $40 million environmental restoration project, supervised by Ecuador’s government.
Internal emails included in court documents show lawyers for the Ecuadorean villagers saying Kennedy’s advocacy ”[w]ill cost money, but not much.” They also show attorneys discussing her planned lobbying of a Chevron investor statement with New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli in order to win his approval.
The state’s pension fund holds a $780 million stake in Chevron. A year after the attorneys discussed leveraging Kennedy’s access to DeNapoli, he recommended that Chevron settle the lawsuit.
David is The Daily Caller’s executive editor. Follow him on Twitter