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Today, the Revolving Door Project (RDP) and People’s Parity Project (PPP) released the third report in their BigLaw Revolving Door series, examining Gibson Dunn’s corporate and right-wing connections. The BigLaw Revolving Door series investigates the outsized influence of corporate law firms and their clients on the executive branch and regulatory law spaces.
In the third installment in the series, authors Andrea Beaty, Zena Wolf, and Ella Fanger investigate Gibson Dunn’s corporate clients, the firm’s deep connections with the Republican Party, and former partners who have joined the Biden Administration. In particular, the Revolving Door Project is concerned about the nomination of Jose Fernandez, a former Gibson Dunn partner, to lead the State Department’s office of Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment. At Gibson Dunn, Fernandez worked for Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund and advised oil companies Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell, Sempra Energy, and the Southern Company. In addition to fossil fuel companies, Gibson Dunn’s other high profile clients include Big Tech giants (Facebook, Amazon and Apple), telecommunications giants (AT&T and Comcast), and companies like Walmart and Uber.
As the report explores, Gibson Dunn’s ties to the Republican Party run back to the Reagan era. The firm’s influence continued through the Trump era as well: in addition to former partner Eugene Scalia ascending to be Trump’s Labor Secretary, Gibson Dunn was squarely in support of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Scalia’s tenure at the Labor Department was disastrous for workers’ rights and safety, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, even as his actions benefited many of Gibson Dunn’s corporate clients. As Jose Fernandez’s nomination shows, these deep Republican and corporate ties have not prevented the Biden Administration from plucking nominees from BigLaw practices, and more Gibson Dunn alumni may soon join the administration’s ranks.
“Gibson Dunn assisted the Big Tech giants Amazon, Facebook and Apple in avoiding consequences for their abuses of monopoly power — in the case of Facebook, securing a wrist slap from the FTC over major privacy violations, aiding Amazon in getting away with labor violations, and representing Apple in the ongoing antitrust lawsuit accusing the corporation of gatekeeping the App Store,” said Revolving Door Project researcher Andrea Beaty, who authored the report.
“Gibson Dunn’s defense of fossil fuel giants like Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell is concerning, particularly because many Gibson Dunn attorneys go on to hold key roles in the executive branch shaping energy, trade, and environmental policy. Especially in light of the firm’s recent work assisting Chevron with its legal assault on environmental attorney Steven Donziger, Gibson Dunn attorneys should have no place in the Biden administration,” said Revolving Door Project intern Ella Fanger, who authored the report.