Chuck Schumer apparently isn’t progressive enough for today’s Democratic Party. Further proof can be found in the strange, fleeting tenure of Alex Oh as head of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s enforcement division.
It’s yet another example of how Democrats like Sen. Schumer who want to maintain strategic ties to the business community are being co-opted on matters large and small by the party’s Bolshevik fringe.
Oh isn’t the most high-profile or controversial person to work in the Biden administration. She seemed to check all right boxes to take a job running the SEC’s division that cracks down on investment scams: A Yale Law School grad; partner at prestigious white-shoe law firm Paul Weiss; some high-profile cases under her belt at a firm with a ton of Democratic Party connections.
No less than Schumer’s brother is a partner at Paul Weiss. The Senate majority leader is said to have championed Oh’s appointment and, to satisfy the woke, the Biden administration touted her as the first woman of color to hold the important job of busting Wall Street’s bad guys.
There was just one problem: In working for Paul Weiss, she and colleagues represented corporate clients. In recent days, one of those clients began to catch the attention of left-wing interest groups and Oh’s job was immediately in jeopardy.
That client was ExxonMobil, the oil and gas giant that is the very definition of evil, according to the Green New Deal-obsessed left. On April 22, the same day SEC Chair Gary Gensler named Oh enforcement chief, a nasty press release by a group called the “Revolving Door Project” suddenly appeared.
The “project” is known in mainstream media circles as a “good-government group,” which is often code for progressive activism. Oh, according to the organization’s press release, wasn’t an accomplished lawyer breaking the color barrier at the SEC but a corporate shill — or, as they put it, a “paradigmatic Wall Street attorney.”
Her allegedly nefarious activities include “representing the likes of UBS, Bank of America, ExxonMobil and Merck for over two decades.” The project described such work as “reinforcing a corrupt status quo in corporate America, in which the largest companies systematically evade democratic accountability.”
A little background on the people at the Revolving Door Project: It’s part of the well-funded and influential left-wing think tank, the Center for Economic and Policy Research, which has been pushing both the Biden administration and Congress leftward for some time on a host of issues from climate change to taxes.
Getting on the group’s radar, as Oh did, put a progressive bullseye on her back. The group has the ear of Elizabeth Warren, AOC and every member of the left-wing Squad.
The old Chuck Schumer, who wined and dined with Wall Street and big law firms, would have easily beaten back the leftist mob. But with Schumer scrambling to appease the newly empowered lefties in his party (he’s said to be worried about a primary challenge from AOC for his Senate seat), Oh suddenly became roadkill.
The case in which Oh defended ExxonMobil involved a lawsuit brought by Indonesian villagers against the oil giant. Some villagers claim to be victims of rape, torture and murder at the hands of the country’s military regime in 1999 through 2001. ExxonMobil allegedly hired military members to guard its plants in the region.
The oil giant, through its lawyers, has contended the soldiers were under the control of the Indonesian government and were guarding the fields that the government owned. ExxonMobil also argues there isn’t enough evidence that the soldiers were even the same ones who tortured the plaintiffs — and even if such evidence existed, the men were not acting on orders from the company.
The case has bounced around the courts for close to 20 years, being dismissed before being reinstated in 2015 by federal Judge Royce Lamberth.
So why is Oh, one of a group of lawyers representing an oil company, forced to step down from a government position amid all this legal wrangling? Lamberth recently ordered Oh to produce evidence why she shouldn’t get sanctioned over the way Paul Weiss attorneys characterized the plaintiff’s attorneys during a deposition in the case.
The order was about to be seized upon by progressives as evidence she wasn’t fit for the job, I am told. (Lamberth is expected to provide more details in coming days). At bottom, the Biden people would have faced defending someone who worked for Big Oil even if, as one veteran white-collar attorney told me: “People get sanctioned for discovery conduct all the time.”
Oh couldn’t be reached for comment. In her resignation letter that I obtained, she wrote that after the ruling, she reached the conclusion that “I cannot address this development without it becoming an unwelcome distraction to the important work” of the SEC.
Of course, maybe there’s something else at hand here and in Lamberth’s more detailed account of what Oh did that we all don’t know about, at least not yet. But no matter what Oh may or may not have done, the word from Washington is that this was also another example of the leftist cancel culture taking its pound of flesh. Something not even the powerful Chuck Schumer can prevent.