From Politico: “The senator who wants to keep an investor dispute process out of the Pacific trade deal was an expert witness in the same kind of case 15 years ago.”
Elizabeth Warren is trying to kill President Barack Obama’s trade agenda by raising the specter that foreign companies could use an investor-friendly arbitration system to circumvent the U.S. court system. But she hasn’t discussed her own role 15 years ago in the arbitration system she opposes — as a paid expert witness earning as much as $90,000 from the U.S. government.
The Massachusetts senator is waging her fight against Obama’s free-trade deals by seizing on a legal procedure, commonly contained in such trade pacts, that lets companies demand damages when their investments suffer because of a foreign government’s actions. She and other critics say the process undermines the rights of governments to regulate, besides enriching a small group of corporate lawyers who specialize in the disputes at taxpayers’ expense.
It’s a process she knows from the inside: In 1999 and 2000, the Justice Department paid Warren between $200 to $400 an hour to serve as an expert witness against a Canadian funeral home operator called Loewen Group that was seeking $725 million from the U.S. under the North American Free Trade Agreement. Her role in the case, NAFTA’s first major test of the procedure known as investor-state dispute settlement, has gotten little public attention — even as Warren has made ISDS her main line of attack against the sprawling Asia-Pacific trade deal that Obama is seeking.
“She was paid and took money to be an expert for the U.S. government,” said Andrea Bjorklund, then a lawyer on the case for the State Department, “and did not appear to have any qualms about participating in this process that she now finds appalling.”
Incorrigible, shameless and disgusting. But somehow we knew that already, right?