Robert Stevens is the CEO of Lockheed Martin, a company that has spent $23 million lobbying the government over the past two years. For the sake of convenience, Stevens has a house just outside D.C., along the Potomac River in a scenic area run by the National Park Service.
In June, Stevens cut down almost an acre of protected trees without a permit, trees that coincidentally stood between his house and the beautiful scenery of the nearby waterway. The Washington Post:
Late last month, Montgomery County issued a $1,000 fine to Robert J. Stevens, the chief executive of Lockheed Martin. Federal park police have opened a criminal investigation into whether the tree-cutting in the Merry-Go-Round Farm community also violated a federal easement designed to protect the canal, the river and scenic vistas.
And environmentalists said they were enraged that another large swath of trees has been cut down.
“This is outrageous,” said Dolores Milmoe of the Audubon Naturalist Society in Chevy Chase. “Once again, people of great wealth feel entitled that they can just end run the permitting process or not get permits.”
No, no, Dolores, it’s not like that at all!
“He did this to make a very dangerous situation safe, particularly for the people who walk and ride horses on the trails that cross his property,” [a statement from Stevens' lawyer] said. “He did not do this to enhance his view to the canal; he did not have a view of the canal before the storm, and he does not have a view of the canal now. Mr. Stevens regrets that he did not request proper authorization for the actions he took and he willingly paid a fine to the county. He is now working closely with officials to remediate the land and restore its natural beauty.”
It was for the safety of others, just as Lockheed Martin itself only provides the military with weapons to keep America safe.
Anyway, that $1,000 fine — .004 percent of Stevens’ annual salary — will certainly teach him a lesson. He could also face a $1,000-per-tree fine from the federal government, unless he coincidentally has a few strings to pull down the road in the capital.