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Complaint says DiNapoli gained in Chevron suit

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Albany/HV: Complaint says DiNapoli gained in Chevron suit
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An outspoken figure in Albany politics has filed a complaint against Comptroller Tom DiNapoli. David Grandeau says DiNapoli benefited by pressuring oil giant Chevron to adopt better environmental standards in Ecuador. YNN's Nick Reisman has more on what came out of today's Joint Commission on Public Ethics meeting.

NEW YORK STATE -- The Chevron Corporation filed an ethics complaint Tuesday, alleging that Comptroller Tom DiNapoli's efforts to have them settle an environmental lawsuit last year was done in exchange for political contributions, trips and meetings with celebrities.

“There's no good public reason for Mr. DiNapoli as the head of the common retirement fund which owns $800 million in Chevron stock to be attempting to induce Chevron into shelving a case that has no basis in fact or reality,” said David Grandeau, an attorney for Chevron.

David Grandeau is the attorney representing Chevron. He's well known in Albany political circles, having served as the executive director for the now defunct temporary commission on lobbying. Grandeau says the case needs to start a conversation about campaign donations being tied to the actions of those in public office.

Grandeau said, “It's time that we started taking a systematic look at campaign donations and how they affect official action in Albany.”

But Grandeau concedes there's no proof DiNapoli engaged lawyers in a deal that exchanged contributions for pressuring Chevron to settle a multimillion dollar lawsuit filed in Ecuador over dumping waste by Texaco, a company it acquired more than a decade ago.

DiNapoli responded in a statement saying, “This is a baseless attempt by big oil to intimidate me and it won’t work. The allegations are without merit....Instead of owning up to its corporate responsibility, time and again Chevron has denied its responsibility, distorted the facts and ignored the ruling of a court of law. I am confident that JCOPE will see through this blatant attempt to intimidate responsible shareholders who dare to question Chevron’s actions. “

The complaint also claims DiNapoli was offered trips to Ecuador and even a meeting with Sting and his wife, the actress Trudie Styler. But there's no evidence DiNapoli ever took those trips or met with the celebrity couple. Grandeau says the complaint speaks to a larger concern about ethics at the Capital.

“I happen to think Albany has evolved into the Chernobyl of ethics. Everyday something else is melting down somewhere around here and the regulators just aren't doing their jobs,” Grandeau said.

Grandeau is no stranger to the Joint Commission on Public Ethics. He is a longtime critic of the ethics watchdog, but says there's no place else to file this complaint.

“They failed the basic test a long time ago. What this is there's no place else to bring it so we've done the work for them,” said Grandeau.

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