Chevron’s Top Lawyer Is a Big Biden Donor

Ted Boutrous made a six-figure donation to Biden and co-led a fundraiser while working for Chevron to get climate change liability lawsuits thrown out.

Chevron’s Top Lawyer Is a Big Biden Donor
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher partner Ted Boutrous (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Chevron’s lead attorney in its defense against climate liability lawsuits has donated more than a hundred thousand dollars to President Biden’s re-election campaign and helped raise money for the president at a glitzy Los Angeles fundraiser.

Ted Boutrous, a partner at the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, is currently representing the oil giant as it calls on the U.S. Supreme Court to block dozens of lawsuits from cities and states that could hold it liable for billions of dollars in climate change-related damages. Boutrous has also worked for Chevron on other cases, including its successful campaign to overturn a 2016 ban on oil and gas development that was passed by voters of Monterey County, California, and  has represented other oil companies including ExxonMobil, Shell, and ConocoPhillips in climate liability cases over the years.

Earlier this year, Boutrous petitioned the Supreme Court on behalf of Chevron, along with several other oil companies, to take up two cases brought by the city and county of Honolulu against itself and other large oil companies in 2020. The companies are seeking to have the court toss out rulings from the Hawaii Supreme Court that found the companies had deceptively marketed fossil fuels while concealing that they knew they would exacerbate global warming and its impacts. Boutrous and the other oil companies’ attorneys argued that federal law prohibits states and cities from suing companies for harms caused by interstate and international greenhouse gas emissions. 

“The stakes in this case could not be higher,” the petitioners told the court in February. “Over two dozen cases have been filed by various States and municipalities across the country seeking to impose untold damages on energy companies for the physical and economic effects of climate change [...] Those cases present a serious threat to one of the Nation’s most vital industries.”

The oil companies recently got a boost from 19 Republican attorneys general, all members of the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), who filed a motion in late May calling on the Supreme Court to block climate lawsuits from California, Rhode Island, and other states, arguing that they are seeking “power to dictate the future of the American energy industry.” Twenty Republican attorneys general also wrote to the Supreme Court in April urging it to side with the oil companies and take up the Honolulu case. 

The state climate lawsuits, which claim that oil companies deceived the public for decades about the dangers of fossil fuels, are seen by many climate activists as critical tools for holding the industry accountable. Boutrous and the fossil fuel industry argue that the lawsuits are attempts by activists and local governments to take control of federal energy policy. In a recent webinar with the conservative Federalist Society, Boutrous argued that these interests are attempting to undermine pro-fossil fuel production policies of the federal government. 

“You see the Biden administration, the secretary of state, calling for energy production to protect our country,” Boutrous said. “So, I think, when you look at the doctrines we're relying on, the extraordinary nature of these cases, it really is a play for private lawyers, funded by various foundations and the like, working with municipalities and states to seize control of federal energy policy and to change how we consume energy.”

The oil industry leans heavily Republican in its political giving, and Chevron in particular has donated millions to Republican super PACs, but Boutrous is supporting the Democrats. 

In two donations–one in December 2023 and one in March 2024–Boutrous donated $110,000 to the Biden Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee for Biden, the Democratic National Committee, and state Democratic Party groups, according to Federal Election Commission records.

In December 2023, Boutrous and his wife co-chaired or co-hosted a Los Angeles fundraiser for President Biden. Co-chairs of the event were expected to raise $500,000 for Biden. The president and First Lady Jill Biden were in attendance at the fundraiser, as were Nancy Pelosi, billionaire director Steven Spielberg, and actor and filmmaker Rob Reiner.