Legal Magazine

Marathon Petroleum Becomes the 18th D.C. Lobbying Client to Dump Scandal-plagued Balch Bingham, Apparently Concerned by the Firm's Racist Conduct in an Era Where Black Lives Matter is Becoming a Strong Force in Reshaping Corporate and Political Landscape

Posted on the 18 June 2020 by Rogershuler @RogerShuler

Marathon Petroleum becomes the 18th D.C. lobbying client to dump scandal-plagued Balch Bingham, apparently concerned by the firm's racist conduct in an era where Black Lives Matter is becoming a strong force in reshaping corporate and political landscape
 A major lobbying client has dropped Birmingham's Balch Bingham law firm following allegations that the firm, in the era of Black Lives Matter, has engaged in racist conduct, according to a report dated 6/17/20 at Marathon Petroleum became the 18th of 18 D.C. lobbying clients to dump Balch, adding another gaping hole in the firm's revenue stream. Writes publisher K.B. Forbes:
Marathon Petroleum confirmed tonight that they have terminated Balch Bingham as their lobbyists in Washington, D.C., and their bold action affirms that Black Lives Matter.
Yesterday, we, the CDLU, had written to Marathon Petroleum’s new Chief Executive Officer Michael J. Hennigan asking him to terminate the firm.
We wrote:
"The law firm has been involved in alleged racist misconduct, targeting poor African-American children, and using intimidation tactics reminiscent of the segregationists from the 1960s. A Balch partner was convicted of six federal crimes including money laundering and bribery in a scheme to suppress African-Americans from having their toxic property tested by the EPA.

"17 of 18 major lobbying clients in D.C. have dumped the firm, except Marathon.

"Black lives matter and now is the time to do the right thing. Your corporate Code of Conduct affirms the need to terminate Balch Bingham, which now has a “history of violating the law.”
"In 24 hours, Marathon Petroleum responded. We applaud their decision to terminate Balch.

What impact could this have on the Balch bottom line? Consider these words from Forbes:
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Marathon has paid Balch Bingham $810,000 from 2016 through April of 2020. $50,000 had been paid so far this year.

This was the last big D.C. lobbying client of Balch that was paying the embattled firm six-figures a year. The CDLU had reached out to 18 major Balch D.C. lobbying clients of which 17 had terminated Balch by January of 2019, costing the firm millions. Marathon Petroleum was the last hold-out.

What kind of conduct caused Marathon to determine it no longer wanted to be associated with Balch? Forbes explains:
We applaud Marathon Petroleum for standing up to alleged racist misconduct and unsavory behavior. We provided Marathon with a 14-page report that outlined numerous matters involving Balch including:

* The North Birmingham Bribery Scandal: The bribery effort against African-Americans, the invoicing, the bribery checks, and ghost-written letters were born at and dispatched from the offices of Balch Bingham.

* Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist John Archibald of wrote about the horrific targeting of poor, African-American children of North Birmingham in a scurrilous “coat drive.” North Birmingham is 92.5 percent African-American, according to U.S. Census figures.

* Balch Bingham was also advising and providing legal services to a limestone quarry company that allegedly engaged in a “whites-only” land grab in a historically African-American area of Vincent, Alabama. The company was also allegedly considering moving historic slave graves according to local news reports.
* Balch Bingham’s convicted partner dispatched an unconscionable letter to a health advocacy group and public charity in 2014 demanding a list of their financial supporters. Using tactics reminiscent of the 1960s when segregationists and other racists demanded lists of supporters from the NAACP and other Civil Rights organizations to intimidate and instill fear in those supporters, Balch Bingham should have known better: public charities have no obligation to provide lists of their supporters.
* Last year, Balch Bingham let go of Kimberly Bell, their only African-American female attorney in Birmingham, who headed diversity efforts at the firm. With over 200 attorneys, partners, and top staff throughout their footprint, only five Balch Bingham attorneys at the firm are African-American, each one assigned to a different Balch office, reflecting alleged tokenism. Less than 2.5 percent of Balch Bingham’s attorneys, partners, and top staff are African-American while six of the cities that Balch has offices in have majority African-American populations, one in which African-Americans represent 79 percent of the population.

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog