Home > Uncategorized > Bombshell: Murphy DEP Commissioner LaTourette Represented BASF As A Private Lawyer Before Negotiating A DEP Sweetheart Deal With BASF As DEP Commissioner

Bombshell: Murphy DEP Commissioner LaTourette Represented BASF As A Private Lawyer Before Negotiating A DEP Sweetheart Deal With BASF As DEP Commissioner

LaTourette Failed To Disclose His Legal Representation of BASF And Recuse From Any DEP Involvement

Worse, His DEP Ethics Documents Masked Prior BASF Legal Work

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On July 12, 2016, just months before he joined the Murphy NJ DEP management team and shortly thereafter became DEP Commissioner, Shawn LaTourette legally represented and filed a legal brief on behalf of corporate chemical giant BASF.

For the documentation of LaTourette’s fingerprints over all that, see the below screen shots (or hit this link to the Appellate Court’s decision, which documents the LaTourette role).

This legal work on behalf of BASF involved a federal Superfund site known as the JIS landfill in South Brunswick, NJ.

I will discuss merits of that case in a subsequent post because they are directly relevant to Commissioner LaTourette’s unethical involvement in the BASF DEP NRD settlement in Toms River, at the Ciba Geigy federal Superfund site.

The BASF JIS Landfill Superfund case involved credible claims of fraud against LaTourette’s law firm. It also included Natural Resource Damages, property valuation, DEP regulatory oversight, redevelopment, and the liability for unknown additional site contamination:

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These are all relevant issues to the BASF Ciba Geigy NRD settlement.

The JIS landfill Superfund site remains subject to current ongoing DEP regulatory oversight.

Incredibly, Commissioner LaTourette’s DEP Ethics disclosure documents failed to disclose this prior BASF legal work. He also failed to recuse from BASF matters before the DEP, as legally required under both NJ Ethics laws and the standards of professional legal ethics codes.

Perhaps even worse, his ethics disclosure and recusal documents appear to actively mask this prior BASF legal representation.

Specifically, see Attachment A of LaTourette’s ethics recusal memo and look at how LaTourette appears to have masked his BASF work at the JIS Superfund site via a vague and generic reference to a “JIS Landfill Performing Parties Group” (instead of naming the individual corporate member of that group).

Despite all of LaTourette’s prior undisclosed legal work on behalf of BASF at the JIS landfill Superfund site – and his failure to recuse – Commissioner LaTourette engaged in a series of grossly unethical conduct, including:

1) participating in the legal negotiations of the DEP BASF NRD settlement;

2) supervising the technical work of DEP’s Natural Resource Damage program and Site Remediation program professionals involved in ongoing regulatory oversight and enforcement at the BASF Ciba Geigy site;

3) briefing the Governor’s Office and working with the Attorney General on the BASF deal;

4) negotiating, in secret, with several environmental groups prior to the public announcement of the DEP BASF NRD deal; and

5) participating in DEP press releases and public statements to the public and media to promote the BASF DEP NRD deal.

Before I proceed on these apparent egregious violations of NJ ethics law and canons of legal ethics, I will contact Commissioner LaTourette to provide an opportunity to respond to these materials.

In the event that he fails to do so or confirms these facts, I will do the following:

1) reach out to Toms River opponents of the BASF – DEP sweetheart NRD settlement;

2) contact media to generate public awareness of this corruption;

3) request legislative oversight;

4) file another complaint with the NJ Ethics Commission; and

5) file a complaint with the NJ Bar Association.

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