Wow. Our experiment is off to a great start—let's see if we can finish it off sooner than expected.
Critics of TransCanada's proposed Keystone XL pipeline are crying foul over yet another example of the revolving door ties between the company and the Obama adminstration. On Monday, the Obama team announced that Broderick Johnson had been hired as a senior adviser to the president's reelection campaign. Johnson, a lobbyist at Bryan Cave LLP, had lobbied on behalf of TransCanada.
According to public disclosure forms, Johnson lobbied Congress, agencies, and the White House in support of the pipeline in 2010. Bryan Cave reported $120,000 in lobbying income and six registered lobbyists for the fourth quarter of 2010 alone; it is among several firms that TransCanada has hired to lobby the US government on its behalf. Johnson, who is the husband of NPR's Michele Norris, has also lobbied on behalf of Anheuser Busch Companies, Comcast, FedEx, and Microsoft.
The Obama campaign doesn't seem too excited to highlight his lobbying work, as Politico's Mike Allen wrote earlier today:
The Obama campaign’s press release did not mention his lobbying experience. But a campaign official said later that Broderick "is no longer a lobbyist — he deregistered in April — and he will not discuss any matters related to his former firm’s clients with the campaign."
Pipeline critics have already raised concerns about the close ties between TransCanada and the Obama administration. Paul Elliot, the company's top lobbyist, was once a national deputy director for Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign; according to internal emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Request, he has proved to be well-connected in her office. The former US special envoy on energy also left the State Department earlier this year for a consulting job and has since advocated for the approval of the pipeline in that role. DeSmogBlog, which first coverd Johnson, has more on the Keystone lobbying connection.
The latest hire in the Obama campaign has provided more fodder for critics in the environmental community. "President Obama ran for office in 2008 promising that the days of lobbyists setting the agenda in Washington were over, yet now he's hired a top oil pipeline lobbyist into his campaign," said Kim Huynh, a campaigner at Friends of the Earth, in a statement. "This is a deeply troubling development. A lobbyist who has taken corporate cash to shill for this dirty and dangerous pipeline now has even more opportunity to whisper into the president's ear."