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Updated on September 10, 2010

Democrat's Lawyers Have Failed to Prevail Against Cape Wind

The Alliance to protect Nantucket Sound (the Alliance) has been represented since 2002 by a powerhouse of Washington influence, the law firm Perkins Coie (pronounced Cooey). Perkins Coie, or PC, is a firm originally formed in Washington State with an emphasis on environmental law and Indian matters. It boasts a roster of 700 lawyers and an impressive client list. Today PC stands as perhaps the most well connected law firm in America in terms of its influence in Democratic party politics, but the firm's impeccable connections seem to have been little help to the Alliance as its board of directors and staff have fought to stop Cape Wind from receiving federal approvals. PC is enormously pc but not at all effective if one judges by results in the Cape Wind case.

Through the marvels of the internet and press stories we can see how unimaginably powerful an ally PC should have been for the Alliance. The question that rises to the surface through all this is.....what happened? Has the Alliance found its worst enemy within? Has the Alliance paid millions of dollars over the past eight years to a traitor, a double agent, an unscrupulous law and lobbying firm? And anyway, what makes Perkins Coie so powerful?

Let's see: Perkins Coie are counsel to the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Leadership Council and the Obama for President Campaign Committee. Perkins Coie also represent most Democrat members of both the U. S. House of Representatives and the U. S. Senate. In fact, Mr. Robert Bauer was the managing partner of the Political Law Group at Perkins Coie, and as such was actually counsel to these named organizations as well as serving as Barack Obama's personal attorney. While Bauer was engaged as managing partner at Perkins Coie, his wife, Anita Dunn, served as Obama's White House Communications Director. WOW! One of the best connected lawyers in the country whose wife is the White House Communications director; how could the Alliance have failed to sway first congress and now the Obama White House to rule against Cape Wind?

One problem seems to cry out for attention. Perkins Coie also number among their clients some who might be seen as holding views conflicting with those of the Alliance. For example, PC represent the Sierra Club and the Sierra Club are strong supporters of Cape Wind.

The logic of this situation is troubling. First we discover that the developer of Cape Wind, Boston's Jim Gordon, may have had very deep connections directly to to George W. Bush (see Bully #1 and #2). This would certainly account for Cape Wind's success with agencies run by Executive Branch appointees. However, the George W. Bush White House had to deal with a Democrat controlled Senate and House...where Perkins Coie had stunning influence. So, Cape Wind should have been far more successful than they have been promoting the notion that Cape Wind is a bad idea. Now, with a Democrat, Barack Obama in the White House, a man whose personal attorney was also a managing partner at Perkins Coie...Cape Wind should be but a distant and fading memory. game over, right?

Not so fast.......

Between 2004 and 2006 the Alliance paid Perkins Coie $400,000. In 2006 the real fight began after the Minerals Management Service was given review and permitting authority over the Cape Wind project, and Perkins Coie billings became enormous. The Perkins Coie take from the Alliance to date stands in the millions of dollars. Of course, Robert Bauer can no longer be of help to the Alliance or to anyone else in this matter. His days of influencing members of the Executive Branch of the United States Government in behalf of PC clients are over. We would not want to risk being charged with conflict of interest, would we? It might just be, in my opinion, that Perkins Coie have been doing what is known as 'spinning the file' or over billing or bilking the client; in this case the Alliance To Protect Nantucket Sound.

The fact that Bauer is White House Counsel or that he holds any senior government position is in itself troubling. After all, when he was a candidate and telling us how he would bring change to the nation Barack Obama assured us all that no lobbyists would find positions in his administration. Apparently what he meant to say was that only lobbyists he liked and approved would hold positions in his administration, because by terms of Executive Order #13490, signed by Norman L. Eisen, Special Counsel to the President of the United States and Designated Agency Ethics Official, Robert Bauer's appointment was approved.

Perkins Coie continue to represent Obama in personal matters and presumably in campaign matters. Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat senator from Vermont and a veteran of Washington and Capitol Hill said of Bauer, "When he comes up to the Hill and says something, he has automatic credibility." Apparently Bauer never spoke in behalf of the cause being advanced by the Alliance.

Other PC clients have interests and opinions very distinct from the Alliance. For example, the Sierra Club is a PC client and Sierra Club endorses Cape Wind. A former political activist closely identified with the Sierra Club, Holly Schadler, went to work for PC ten years ago or so. She is now a partner in another Washington Law firm. It seems that everywhere one looks there is incredible political influence but none of it has helped the Alliance. In fact, the Alliance To Protect Nantucket Sound is very much the country mouse in a world of city rats. PC lists General Electric among its clients and GE is determined to be the big dog in the production of commercial scale wind turbines. In fact, GE was to have supplied Cape Wind with its turbines until the company decided to discontinue the particular model Cape Wind had selected. For at least four years PC represented both the Alliance and GE. Obviously the term conflict is not well known at PC. Perkins Coie also represent BP Alaska. Quite a firm.

It is known that at one point the Alliance leadership decided to notify Minerals Management Service of its intention to bring suit to stop the forward progress of Cape Wind. Alliance leadership had determined that MMS was violating law and rule and had every intention of ignoring its obligations and of approving Cape Wind. The individual at PC who directly represented the Alliance, Guy Martin, agreed to prepare the necessary letter to MMS and an accompanying memo for presentation to the Alliance Board of directors. Sometime thereafter when Martin was asked why neither the draft of the letter nor the memo to the board had been delivered he backed away from his original support for the idea of moving forward. He apparently had spoken to others in his firm and had decide that a lawsuit was not the right move at that time.

There is also the matter of whether Perkins Coie have been honest in their billings. Have they actually established contact with members of the Senate and the House with whom they claim to have spoken? Have they contacted members of various federal agencies with whom they claim to have spoken in behalf of the alliance? I think I know the answer and it is an indictment of a very powerful group of lawyers and lobbyists. No surprise in that, I think.

The simple fact of the Cape Wind saga is that they may very well have been ably represented by one of the most powerful and prestigious law firms in the United States; a firm whose other clients are Democrat lawmakers, national Democrat organizations and even the president of the United States. It has been Cape Wind's sheer genius to have had the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound paying this law firm, thinking they had found the right people to stop Cape Wind.

What irony, the Alliance has been paying the most effective lawyer Cape Wind could have had.

Copyright 2010 by Peter A. Kenney


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