Open letter to Fortune 500: Reevaluate relationships with companies silencing free speech

Open letter to Fortune 500: Reevaluate relationships with companies silencing free speech

Monday April 15, 2019

Nonprofit groups send letter detailing intimidation tactics of Resolute Forest Products to logging company’s current, prospective customers

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — A coalition of advocacy and environmental nonprofits today sent an open letter to 500 of the biggest corporations in the U.S. asking them to reevaluate their relationships with companies silencing free speech. Signatories include, Rainforest Action Network, Sum of Us, Friends of the Earth, and Dogwood Alliance.

Read the letter:

The letter details the bully lawsuits filed by Canadian logging company Resolute Forest Products against environmental groups including and Greenpeace, a failed intimidation tactic used in an attempt to silence critics of Resolute’s unsustainable forestry practices. Filed in May 2016, Resolute’s lawsuit has now been twice dismissed by federal judges in California.

“One lesson from these past two years is that Resolute is out of step with the commonly-held values of protecting free speech and common-sense environmental stewardship. The only way Resolute will treat the people and places that depend upon it fairly is if it receives a strong message from the marketplace,” said Todd Paglia, executive director, is specifically calling out Fortune 500 corporations in the tissue, newsprint, and coffee cup sectors — some of Resolute’s largest customers — to recognize how the logging company’s rogue actions are out of step with the sustainability initiatives and core values touted by many corporations in the Fortune 500.

The law firm representing Resolute — Kasowitz, Benson, and Torres, — is President Donald Trump’s go-to law firm, which he used to unsuccessfully sue a New York Times reporter for defamation more than a decade ago. More recently, the firm has pitched other Fortune 500 companies to file similar lawsuits to silence groups and individuals advocating for forest and climate protection. One corporation, Energy Transfer Partners, the owner of the Dakota Access Pipeline, filed a copycat lawsuit against pipeline opponents in federal court in North Dakota. That lawsuit was also dismissed.

“This legal strategy may be a good business proposition for the lawyers at Kasowitz, Benson and Torres, but it is anathema to the values of our country. Resolute spent millions on the lawsuit and in attorneys fees, engaged in creepy investigation tactics, became a free speech pariah, alienated customers, and distracted their senior staff. This is what failure looks like. For moral, reputational, and financial reasons, it is a path no one should follow,” said Paglia.