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Obama campaign hires Keystone XL pipeline lobbyist

Posted Oct. 24, 2011 / Posted by: Nick Berning

For Immediate Release

Contact: Nick Berning, nberning@foe.org, 202-222-0748; Emilie Openchowski, eopenchowski@foe.org, 202-222-0723

Obama campaign hires Keystone XL pipeline lobbyist Broderick Johnson

Hiring calls president’s campaign promises into question; Johnson is subject of FOIA request seeking communications with State Department

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The judgment and integrity of President Obama’s reelection campaign were called into question today after it hired a prominent lobbyist for the proposed Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline into a high-ranking campaign position.

Politico reported today that Broderick Johnson, who was on the Keystone XL account at Bryan Cave LLP, has been hired to serve as a senior political advisor for the campaign and that he “will serve as a national surrogate for the campaign and [its] representative in meetings with key leaders, communities and organizations.”

Kim Huynh, dirty fuels campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said the hiring violates President Obama’s 2008 campaign pledge to limit lobbyist influence and raises concerns about such influence within the campaign.

“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,” Huynh said. “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.”

As the DeSmogBlog has reported, Johnson is part of a web of pipeline lobbyists with ties to Secretary of State Clinton and the White House who have been hired by pipeline proponents. Their hiring is part of a growing pipeline influence scandal surrounding the State Department’s Keystone XL review. Emails between department employees and TransCanada lobbyist Paul Elliott, Wikileaked memos, public remarks, disclosure forms and other documents provide clear evidence that the department’s review of the proposed pipeline has been corrupted by bias, lobbyist influence and conflicts of interest.

On October 6, Friends of the Earth, the Center for International Environmental Law and Corporate Ethics International, all represented by Earthjustice, amended (pdf) a Freedom of Information Act request so that it now includes a request for all State Department documents that pertain to interactions with Johnson and several other pipeline lobbyists.

NOTE FOR JOURNALISTS:

The following information is from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brendan-demelle/hillary-clintons-keystone_b_997523.html:

Bryan Cave LLP reported earnings of $1.08 million between 2009-2011 lobbying on behalf of TransCanada, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Bryan Cave staff reported lobbying the State Department directly about the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Broderick Johnson, a former Bryan Cave LLP lobbyist registered on the Keystone XL account, reported lobbying President Obama’s legislative affairs staff in 2010 (pdf), a post he’s familiar with, having served in the Clinton administration in the White House Office of Legislative Affairs from 1998-2000. He was named deputy assistant to the president and House liaison, acting as the Clinton administration’s primary advocate before the U.S. House of Representatives in 1999 and 2000. 

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