[Editor’s Note: Part One of this piece, if you missed it, can be found here: Some Curious New Connections To Soros And His ‘Dark Money’ Proxies]
On a lazy late spring evening of April 17, 2013, the Texas town of West, sleepily located 20 minutes north of Waco, was the scene of a massive explosion. It was planting season and the blast was caused by a large cache of Ammonium Nitrate stored on the site of a local fertilizer plant. 15 people died and more than 160 were injured.
In the aftermath are stories of pain, heroism, resilience and the miraculous. President Obama flew to Waco for a memorial as national attention focused on the small town and summed it best saying “Our thoughts are with those who face a long road — the wounded, the heartbroken, the families who lost their homes and possessions in an instant.”
Following the incident, the Dallas News wrote a prescient article which began:
“In 2006, the EPA’s Chicago office told Midwestern fertilizer dealers it found problems with nearly all their safety plans for poisonous anhydrous ammonia. Fix them, the EPA wrote the dealers, or face possible fines.
“Members of Congress from both parties protested. Among those publicly flaying the Environmental Protection Agency for excessive zeal was a freshman Democrat from Illinois.
“At a Capitol Hill hearing on June 28, 2006, Sen. Barack Obama greeted one witness as an old friend and ally from his days in the Illinois Senate: the head of Illinois’ farm-chemical lobby.
“Obama then counseled the EPA to give fertilizer dealers friendly and informal phone calls instead of enforcement letters. If most dealers flunked safety checks, he said, it must be the EPA’s fault for not educating them.
“‘It strikes me that this is an industry that wants to do the right thing — that has a stake in doing the right thing,’ Obama declared. Other senators concurred.
“The EPA apparently got the message. It never repeated that particular enforcement threat.
The Dallas News article went on to list a number of shortcomings in the national and local regulation of potentially dangerous chemicals. With the former President’s good words in mind, and unknown to the denizens of the town of West, they were now a prime example in a renewed regulatory focus in the world of the chemical industry.
Indeed, the White House promulgated an executive order on August first 2013. It was an ostensible response to the tragedy at West, known as the “Executive Order on Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security”. The central tenants of the directives contained in the order were to:
- improve operational coordination with state and local partners;
- enhance Federal agency coordination and information sharing;
- modernize policies, regulations and standards; and
- work with stakeholders to identify best practices.
With the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the lead, an inter-agency working group moseyed to life. And the “grassroots” activist groups sprang into action.
While highlighting the efforts of The Center for Effective Government related to Child safety near plants and refineries, a George Soros funded group highlighted the events in West and the need for increased regulation:
“Earthjustice has been working with community groups in Texas, Louisiana and California to push the EPA to adopt strong protections from toxic air pollution from refineries. So far, we’ve generated more than 75,000 public comments supporting strong safety standards…
“The EPA must fully adopt the lessons learned from investigations of preventable disasters like those in Richmond and West to avoid future accidents and minimize risks to our kids.
Fun fact, the Center for Effective Government ceased operations two years later merging with the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) POGO is another Soros funded venture known recently for it’s Vice Chair Debra Katz, who was an attorney for Dr. Christine Blasey Ford in the confirmation hearings of Judge Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court.
Meet the Lawyers
West is your average Texas working town and is by no means affluent. A bevy of State, Local and Federal aid was coordinated in the wake of the carnage. Local and national well-wishers likewise offered help and prayers even after press attention faded. But for such a devastating event in a town trying to pull together, legal relief was doubtlessly necessary and sought.
Multiple lawsuits were filed against the plant owners. Two personalities emerged in the cases as it relates to the suits in [LINK]part one of this report [END LINK]. That of Muhammad Aziz and Mark Underwood. Many of the claims were settled but then there was a sudden halt to the litigation process. Why?
The press release issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives validated fears of many fellow Texans and I. “ATF Announces $50,000 Reward in West, Texas Fatality Fire”. In short, the plant fire initiating the explosion was deemed arson. To this day, a perpetrator has yet to be identified and the case remains open preventing elaboration by the government.
Mr. Aziz would subsequently argue in an article in the Houston Chronicle “Our position from the beginning – even before the (announcement) – we told them that what you guys are doing is not scientifically sound,”. He had delivered his share of victories in the West cases. A final settlement was latter reached by the city and the defendants at 10.4 million dollars to cover what government and insurance would not cover.
According to the Chronicle, the explanation lay in the findings of the US Chemical Safety Board which faulted procedures, contingency plans, site security and local authority coordination. In effect an unforeseen event that is rare and very troubling may have been preventable or did the climate created by the Obama Executive order cause an undue influence ignoring the findings of the ATF and creating liability for the plant and the city.
For the purposes of litigation, a modus operandi had been set.
After Hurricane Harvey, Mr. Aziz found himself back at work in a civil suit against Arkema Chemicals. A March 30, 2018 article for the Texas Tribune establishes this:
“Mo Aziz, a lawyer representing more than 100 plaintiffs in several lawsuits tied to the Arkema case, sees many parallels between Arkema and the litigation he worked on after a 2013 fertilizer plant explosion that leveled a whole section of the town of West and killed 15 — most of them first responders. The most striking link between the two cases, Aziz said, ‘are first responders not getting enough information about what they were being sent to do’.”
Meanwhile, in Washington
In 2017, the Executive Order on Chemical Safety was under scrutiny by the Trump Administration. At it’s heart was an rule called ‘Risk Management Program’ for chemical safety. EPA Administrator Pruitt had ordered a postponement to the implementation the rule. In such cases members of the public and interests groups are permitted to make statements for the record. Of those in attendance were representatives of the political pressure group, Earthjustice.
Earthjustice is best known for a legal defense fund which forms the basis of it’s activities. It was most noted for its disruptive actions in the Dakota access pipeline construction which has been labeled in some quarters as eco-terrorism. Their interest in the Risk Management Program rule of the EPA is predictable. The heavy citation of the Arkema Crosby incident contained in their rule hearing statement on the other hand, is notable in view of the fact that a leading funder of the organization is George Soros. As was shown in our first article there appears to be a direct connection between Arkema a French company and the Soros animus which also takes aim at President Trump and his administration.
As reported in part one of this story, fund manager George Soros had generously given money to the campaign of the local District Attorney Kim Ogg. Mr. Azziz had made his contribution to DA Ogg on February 9th of this year. His tactic would be clear (to return to the Chemical Safety Board findings) save for the fact that the case and the plaintiffs have moved their case to federal court.
They are now docketed and will be in part represented by West Fertilizer litigation colleague Mark Underwood. Mr. Underwood is admitted to the Federal bar, where it appears that Mr. Azziz and fellow counsels from the State civil case are not.
But worse, apart from having a hand in attempting to foster greater financial windfalls for the Soros family of companies through grassroots action agitating for greater economically stifling levels of regulation. His attention clearly turned to monetizing lawsuits from industrial accidents by negligence, or in the case of the West plant naked sabotage, or an Act of God in the case of the Arkema Crosby plant episode.
As would be reported in Bloomberg a new litigation service designed to provide seed capital for those seeking legal recompense:
“Soros Fund Management is pushing into a branch of litigation finance that few hedge funds have entered. His family office is bankrolling a company that’s creating investment portfolios out of lawsuits, according to a May regulatory filing…
“The firm Soros is backing, Mighty Group, bundles cash advances that small shops extend to plaintiffs in personal injury suits in return for a cut of future settlements.”
This casts Ms. Ogg’s clear prosecutorial adventurism in a mysterious light. The money sent her way in her 2016 campaign is difficult to dismiss. A donor (Mr. Aziz) had a case in progress with a defendant she later indicted. Any reader of Houston area news can understand that DA Ogg, the UT Austin journalism major turned lawyer has a proclivity for press exposure. Did she award a donor and colleague with a photo-op of a perp walk to pressure a settlement out of a major corporation?
Or is it darker than that? Though headed to federal court the Crosby plant accident seemed to be winding down until she became involved. The legal, regulatory and ultimately political culmination of forces taken together with the organizations involved point to a chilling, meshing of lines of effort pointing to a wealthy progressive benefactor, seeking returns on his investment. Some call it, setting market conditions.
As before in part one, what is Mr. Soros buying in Texas?
Pastor Gregory Young is the host of the radio show, ‘Chosen Generation’.
Learn more at pastorgregyoung.com.