Monday, August 24, 2009

"Energy Citizens": Sounds Better Than "Big Oil Lobbyists"

If you enjoy watching Big Oil's awkward attempts to step outside of its very small comfort zone into the world of grassroots politics as much as we do, then you've been eagerly awaiting the absurd spectacle of the coming "Energy Citizens" rallies against clean energy reform. Last week, we noted that the American Petroleum Institute's (API) kick-off rally for Energy Citizens in Houston was strictly employees-only - unwelcome news for several flag-toting citizens who were stopped at the door.

Well today, some great sleuthing by our friends at Grist uncovered the following list of coordinators for Energy Citizens' 21 planned events, and (drumroll)... 15 are registered lobbyists!
Here’s more evidence that the “Energy Citizens” rallies against climate legislation are anything but grassroots uprisings. We already knew that the American Petroleum Institute was behind the whole idea. Now it turns out that even the local organizers of individual rallies are oil-industry lobbyists.
Grist obtained a copy of API’s list of coordinators for the 21 planned rallies, and 15 of them are registered lobbyists, mostly for API or its state-level affiliates.

Here’s a list of the lobbyists organizing the “grassroots” rallies:
  • Greensboro, N.C., rally organizer Bill Weatherspoon is a registered lobbyist for API in North Carolina.
  • Lima, Ohio, organizer Terry Fleming is a registered lobbyist for the Ohio Petroleum Council.
  • Atlanta, Ga., organizer Ric Cobb is a registered lobbyist for the Georgia Petroleum Council.
  • Elkhart, Ind., organizer Maggie McShane lobbies on behalf of the Indiana Petroleum Council.
  • Nashville, Tenn., organizer Mike Williams is a registered lobbyist for API.
  • Bismarck, N.D., organizer Ron Ness is a former registered lobbyist for the North Dakota Petroleum Council.
  • Tampa, Fla., organizer David Mica registered lobbyist for the Florida Petroleum Council.
  • St. Louis, Mo., organizer Ryan Rowden is a registered lobbyist for the Missouri Petroleum Council.
  • Greenville, S.C., organizer Kay Clamp is a registered lobbyist for the South Carolina Petroleum Council.
  • Lincoln, Neb., point of contact Chris Abboud is a registered lobbyist for the Agri-Business Association of Nebraska.
  • Springfield, Ill., organizer Dave Sykuta is a registered lobbyist for API.
  • Detroit, Mich., organizer John Griffin is a registered lobbyist for the Associated Petroleum Industries of Michigan.
  • Richmond, Va., organizer Mike Ward is a registered lobbyist for API in Virginia.
  • Philadelphia, Pa., organizer Rolf Hanson is a registered lobbyist for API in Pennsylvania.
  • Huron, S.D., organizer Tim Dougherty is a registered lobbyist.
But wait, that's not all! If you act now, Big Oil will also throw in a ream of current and former Republican staffers working on the "American Energy Express," a four-week bus tour organized by yet another polluter front group, the American Energy Alliance. Per the Wonk Room:
Laughably, AEA claims it has “no ties to any political party":

AEA has no ties to any political party, and it has no interest in supporting the agenda of any particular political party.

However, AEA is tightly connected to the Republican Party and right-wing oil interests. In fact, all of its employees are former House Republican staffers:
  • Thomas J. Pyle, AEA President, Is A Oil Lobbyist And DeLay Operative. Before joining the Institute for Energy Research and the American Energy Alliance, Pyle worked as a lobbyist for the right-wing oil giant Koch Industries, first in-house starting in 2001, and then at the Rhoads Group. In 2008 Pyle became a lobbyist for the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association. Previously, Pyle served as policy analyst for Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX), Majority Whip of the U.S. House of Representatives and as staff director for the GOP Congressional Western Caucus. Pyle started as a legislative assistant for radical anti-environmentalists Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA) and Rep. George Radanovich (R-CA).
  • Patrick Creighton, AEA Communications Director, Worked For Bush And Pennsylvania Republicans. Patrick Creighton was the special assistant to Samuel T. Mok, the chief financial officer at the Department of Labor from 2004 to 2006. He then worked as a spokesman for oil and natural gas advocate Rep. John Peterson (R-PA) from 2006 to 2009, worked to elect Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA), then joined Thompson’s office until May 2009.
  • Kevin Kennedy, AEA Federal Affairs Director, Promoted Alaska Drilling Under Don Young. After graduating from Union College in 2004, Kevin Kennedy worked for the Astroturf organization Arctic Power, which advocated drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In 2007, Kennedy became a legislative assistant for the corrupt Rep. Don Young (R-AK) and the House Committee on Natural Resources. He joined the Institute for Energy Research and American Energy Alliance in 2009.
  • Laura Henderson, AEA Spokesperson, Served Shelby, Dole, And Tiberi. Laura Henderson was a former press secretary for offshore drilling advocate Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) from 2005-2009. Previously, she worked for former Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) and Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH).

  • Daniel R. Simmons, AEA State Affairs Director, Is A Koch-Funded GOP Staffer. Simmons was the Director of the Natural Resources Task Force at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a right-wing network funded by Koch Industries, the American Petroleum Institute, and other corporate and right-wing organizations. Previously, Simmons was a Research Fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, also funded by Koch. From 2001 to 2005, Simmons served on the staff of Rep. George Nethercutt (R-WA) on the House Natural Resources Committee. Simmons holds a B.A. in Economics from Utah State University and a J.D. from George Mason University School of Law, also supported by Koch Industries.
Furthermore, AEA’s EnergyTownHall.org website is run by yet another former GOP House staffer:
  • GOP.gov Webmaster Nathan Imperiale runs EnergyTownHall.Org. AEA’s EnergyTownHall.org was designed by NJI Media Group, part of Endeavour Global Strategies. Endeavour’s head, Sean Spicer, is a long-time GOP operative, including communications work for the House Republican Conference and the Bush White House. NJI Media Group’s president, Nathan Imperiale, served as Director of New Media for the House Republican Conference, building its GOP.gov website.
"Energy Citizens" and the "American Energy Express": the most transparent grassroots lobbying money can buy.

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