Chevron Corp., the oil giant who filed an ethics complaint against state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli this morning, obtained a well-known Albany name for legal representation.
David Grandeau, the former chief of the now-defunct state Lobby Commission, formally unveiled the charge at the Joint Commission on Public Ethics’ meeting in Albany today. He said he’s been retained by Chevron specifically for the complaint against DiNapoli.
Speaking to reporters, Grandeau said he can’t say for certain whether any laws were broken. Chevron’s complaint focuses on campaign contributions given to DiNapoli’s campaign by attorneys and others connected to a massive $18 billion lawsuit against Chevron alleging pollution in Ecuador.
“We won’t know that until you put the man under oath and ask him some questions,” Grandeau said.
DiNapoli, in a statement, vehemently denied the allegations.
The Chevron complaint also refers to documents that suggest DiNapoli may have been offered trips to Ecuador and a chance to meet musician Sting by people connected to the case. But DiNapoli’s office denies the comptroller has traveled to Ecuador or met the rocker, and Grandeau acknowledged there was no direct evidence to suggest he had done so.
“This is the problem that you always run into with the quid pro quo and you run into with pay to play,” Grandeau said. “We know the campaign donations were made. We know the action was taken by Mr. DiNapoli in attempting to induce Chevron into settling this case. We’re not in the room when it occurs.”
DiNapoli is the sole trustee of the state’s pension fund. The fund owns millions of dollars worth of shares in Chevron, and DiNapoli has encouraged the company through shareholder resolutions to settle the Ecuador lawsuit, which dates back to the 1990s.
Grandeau, meanwhile, has been a constant critic of the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, offering his views on the state’s ethics committee on his blog and often dismissing it as “JJOKE.”
Here’s a clip of Grandeau speaking to reporters: