Andy Kroll

Andy Kroll

Senior Reporter

Andy Kroll is Mother Jones' Dark Money reporter. He is based in the DC bureau. His work has also appeared at the Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, Men's Journal, the American Prospect, and TomDispatch.com, where he's an associate editor. Email him at akroll (at) motherjones (dot) com. He tweets at @AndyKroll.

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Is BP Hanging Florida Out to Dry?

| Fri Jun. 4, 2010 5:00 AM EDT

Florida is the new front in the ever-widening disaster stemming from BP's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a now 44-day-old calamity sending tar balls and slicks onto beaches and into marshes. Yesterday, oil was identified in regions off Florida’s coast still open for fishing, and oil from BP's Deepwater Horizon rig is expected to wash onto Florida's white-sand shores as early as Friday. Are BP and government agencies prepared?

Local officials contacted by Mother Jones don't think so. The Pensacola area, in the westernmost tip of the Florida Panhandle, is among the first locales in the state expected to be hit by oil. Escambia County, which includes Pensacola, boasts 36 miles of beaches, according to county commissioner Grover Robertson. County officials said on Thursday that some oil was as close as seven miles off the county's shoreline, and that the majority of the oil was about 35 miles away.

But Robertson says he's "concerned" that BP and the multiple government agencies that make up the Unified Command organization (the Coast Guard, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) aren't ready for the oil's onslaught. Robertson said Escambia County had secured the help of about 300 volunteers, via the Unified Command, some of whom will divide into teams of 10 to act as spotters for when the oil hits. After that happens, those spotters will dig up the sand absorbing the oil washed ashore. The county also plans to use tractors and sifters to extract oil from sand. Still, Robertson says, "We are very concerned that [Unified Command] will not get this done in a timely manner."

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Carly Fiorina: What Climate Change?

| Thu Jun. 3, 2010 9:00 AM EDT

In a slickly produced commercial with an outright bizarre message, Carly Fiorina, the Republican frontrunner vying for the US Senate, ripped her opponent, Democrat incumbent Barbara Boxer, for describing climate change as an issue of national security. The ad shows a 2007 clip of Boxer, in a tiny video frame (no doubt intentional), saying, "One of the very important national security issues we face, frankly, is climate change." To which Fiorina, whose image now fills the frame, retorts, "Terrorism kills—and Barbara Boxer is worried about the weather."

Really, Fiorina? This is demon sheep stuff here. No one doubts that terrorism, as Fiorina mentions, is a major national security issue. But, according to the Pentagon, climate change is, too. Indeed, the mighty Pentagon has been warning for years, even during the Bush administration when climate change wasn't believed by the White House, that climate change be could a destabilizing force throughout the world, stoking ethnic, racial, and economic conflicts. In the Quadrennial Defense Review released earlier this year, the Pentagon said "While climate change alone does not cause conflict, it may act as an accelerant of instability or conflict, placing a burden on civilian institutions and militaries around the world." And the CIA, an institution Fiorina name-drops in her Boxer-bashing ad touting her experience having worked on an external committee there, has opened a intelligence center on climate change to collect data on its effects around the world. The question is: With the US's major defense and intelligence organizations saying climate change is a national security issue, how Fiorina say otherwise and retain any credibility?

And back to the "weather" rhetoric. The evidence supporting global climate change is so abundant, so voluminous, that to call it "weather" is appalling. Even Fiorina herself has previously said, "I think there is growing consensus that the issues of climate change and energy independence are inextricably linked," and that climate change "matters to a lot of people." Now: "weather." Talk about a flip-flop.

Here's the full ad for your viewing pleasure:

Will the BP Spill Sink Charlie Crist?

| Thu Jun. 3, 2010 8:28 AM EDT

This week, oil from BP's Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico is expected to hit the shores of Florida's northwest panhandle, greasing the Sunshine State's pristine white-sand beaches in time for the summer tourist season. Already, hotels and restaurants are losing bookings for the coming weeks, though the extent of the BP disaster on Florida's economy—not to mention its coastlines and the water off its shores—is still unclear.

Leading the charge to assure Floridians and potential tourists that the state is open for business is Republican Gov. Charlie Crist. Crist is a candidate for the state's open US Senate seat, and he sent ripples throughout the country with his decision in late April to ditch the GOP and run as an independent. Right now, Crist holds a small lead in the polls, edging out Republican (and Tea Party golden boy) Marco Rubio, a former state legislator, and Democrat Kendrick Meek, a US congressman from South Florida. But will the BP oil spill, expected to last until August, sink Crist's Senate dreams?

Democrats and Republicans alike have lambasted Crist for what they say is his delayed reaction to the spill's impact on Florida. State chief financial officer Alex Sink, a Democrat, pointed out that it took 32 days for Crist to arrange for TV ads to calm fears about the spill's toll on Florida businesses. When Crist did obtain $25 million for commercials touting Florida's untainted vacation spots in the Panhandle, Sink, a 2010 gubernatorial candidate, told the Miami Herald, "I am very disappointed in the lack of sense of urgency about getting this problem solved and getting it solved now." Republican state senator Don Gaetz echoed Sink’s sharp criticisms, lamenting, "It's in days like this that I miss Jeb Bush."

Kentucky Politicos Rip Rand Paul

| Wed Jun. 2, 2010 5:30 AM EDT

Add this notable group to the growing list of Rand Paul critics and opponents: the Kentucky Senate. On Friday, the lawmakers in that state's Senate passed a resolution rebuking Rand Paul, the GOP candidate for Kentucky's open US Senate seat, for his questioning of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 while expressing their full support for the landmark piece of legislation. The resolution said in part, "Suggestions have appeared recently that we retreat from the core values of the protection of equal rights of the citizens of the United States"; the resolution characterizes these suggestions as "outside the mainstream of American values" and believed by only an "extreme minority of persons in the United States."

The resolution attacks Paul for his remarks last month in which he blanched when asked whether he fully supported the Civil Rights Act, which banned segregation. Paul's wavering caused a firestorm in political circles and in the media, and likely led to a recent shake-up on Paul's campaign staff, with the replacement of his campaign manager. While a little behind the news cycle, the Kentucky Senate's resolution further compounds the fallout from Paul's gaffes, which appear to have taken a toll on Paul's support. Yesterday, a Rasumussen survey in Kentucky reported that Paul's lead over Democratic opponent Jack Conway had shrunk to 8 points, with Paul earning 49 percent and Conway 41 percent. That's a precipitous drop from a few weeks ago, before Paul's civil rights comment, when he led Conway by 25 percent.

Here's more from McClatchy on the Kentucky resolution:

In interviews with national media outlets, Paul has cited this part of the law as an example of the government overreaching, although he also has said that he would have voted for the law if he were in the U.S. Senate at the time.

“Here is an individual from Kentucky speaking nationally on a fundamental value, a fundamental right enshrined in our laws, and there had been no official response on behalf of Kentucky,” Neal said. “I felt it was important for our institution to say that not everybody here agrees with the ideological positions put forward by Mr. Rand Paul.”

Neal said he filed his resolution last Wednesday under a procedure that listed all senators present as co-sponsors unless they objected. Nobody objected over the next two days, he said.

“Senate leadership clearly knew what was going on, they were paying attention,” Neal said. “I talked to the majority floor leader. There was no opposition.”

Williams, the top Republican in Frankfort, did not return a call seeking comment Tuesday. Williams last week said Paul is not a racist, but he is too young to remember the history that made the Civil Rights Act necessary.

“When the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, Rand Paul was 2 years old,” Williams said. “Those of us who lived during that time period — I wasn’t very old, but I was old enough to know that some things in the United States had to be changed.”

Party with Wall St. on Finance Reform!

| Tue Jun. 1, 2010 9:07 AM EDT

The battle to re-regulate Wall Street is in the late rounds, as the House and Senate try to merge their two bills via the "conference" process beginning as early as next week. That isn't stopping banks and their lobbyists from wooing top lawmakers with a say on the final bill.

Case in point: According to an invitation obtained by Brian Beutler at Talking Points Memo, a Wall Street securities firm and a Washington lobbying shop are scheming to bring together top lawmakers crafting Congress' reform legislation, financial lobbyists, and banking officials for a day-long event in mid June. "Speakers will include the KEY House and Senate Conferees and majority and minority Committee staff," the invitation reads, "as well as leading financial lobbyists covering interchange, banks and major non-banks affected by so-called Wall Street Reform bill." (The securities firm is JNK Securities Corp., and the lobbying outfit Federal Advisory LLC.)

According to the invitation, the June 15 event is slated to last from 10 am to 7 pm—which could fall in the middle of the financial reform conference negotiations between House and Senate leaders. When Beutler called Tim Rupli, Federal Advisory's registered lobbyist, Rupli said the event wasn't a sure thing yet, and all 12 of the Senate conferees, as they're called, either hadn't heard of the event or weren't planning on attending. Nonetheless, the event, whether it comes off or not, is evidence that banks, their lobbyists, and their trade groups will continue fighting and plying and cajoling until President Obama puts pen to paper on the final bill.

For your reading pleasure, here's the invitation in full, per TPM:

From: "Bill Williams" ********** Date: May 26, 2010 4:46:44 PM EDT Subject: (BAC, V, WFC, MA, GS, JPM) ** Confirmed ** Tuesday June 15th in Washington DC w/ KEY House & Senae Conferees

*Timely* Financial Reform Event on TUES June 15th in Washington DC

JNK will be hosting a financial reform event with Federal Advisory, LLC on Tuesday June 15th in Washington DC from 10am - 7pm on Capitol Hill. Speakers will include the KEY House and Senate Conferees and majority and minority Committee staff, as well as leading financial lobbyists covering interchange, banks and major non-banks affected by so-called Wall Street Reform bill. This event will comply with Congressional ethics and gift ban rules. JNK Securities Corp does not participate in any lobbying or fundraising events.

Attendance will be limited, Please indicate your interest.

Federal Advisory: Industry sources suggest the following is proposed conference schedule:

Tuesday, June 8 th-conferees appointed

Wednesday, June 9th-first open meeting of the conference; organizational matters and opening statements only

Tuesday, June 15th, Wednesday, June 16th, Thursday, June 17th-conference meets on substantive issues

Tuesday, June 22nd, Wednesday, June 23rd-conference meets on substantive issues

Thursday, June 24th-conference concludes with formal signing ceremony; conference report filed shortly thereafter

Monday, June 28th-Rules Committee meets to grant rule

Tuesday, June 29th-House passes conference report; this gives the Senate three days to pass it before the beginning of the July 4th recess.

Bill Williams | Director of JNK 3rd Party Research and Sales

JNK Securities Corp | Customized Research Solutions + Trade Execution

******

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JNK works with a select group of 3rd Party Consultants. Their work is exclusive to JNK Securities. We do our best to ensure that you are receiving the most up to date, accurate and actionable information on the Street. In an effort to maintain that value, it is important that our clients, keep our proprietary information to themselves. Please do not distribute our work to any outside party including (but not limited to) other Funds, friends, IR departments from mentioned companies etc.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact myself, Bill Williams, our Head of 3rd Party Research or Jodi Heitner, our Chief Compliance Officer.

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