Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Gas Driller Releases Emails from Former Legislative Ally

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Gas Driller Releases Emails from Former Legislative Ally

Article excerpt

HARRISBURG -- Was it the smaller-than-expected campaign donation he collected from a Range Resources event and declined request for a ride to the Super Bowl that sparked the conflict between the energy firm and outspoken Democratic Rep. Jesse White?

Or, as he describes, did his shift from someone who described Range in 2009 as a company "committed to doing all the right things" to one who skeptically questions it begin when the firm exerted legal pressure on local municipalities?

Whatever set off the ongoing and increasingly vitriolic dispute between Range and the Washington County legislator, it reached a tipping point with the company releasing a set of unflattering emails from Mr. White.

The half-dozen emails between him and several Range officials are dated from March 2010 to January 2011, with most focused on two fundraisers that Range either hosted for Mr. White, D-Cecil, or had indicated officials would attend.

The messages show the lawmaker raising concerns about who would be coordinating his fundraiser that Range was hosting in March 2010, and later criticizing how much that event raised, saying it fell "considerably short of the intended target."

"I take massive amounts of abuse from my constituents every single day about the Marcellus industry, and I believe I have done an honest and sincere job of supporting your efforts to create jobs and educate people about Marcellus," Mr. White wrote in June 2010.

Another email appears to show Mr. White asking Range to fly him down to the Super Bowl in 2011, which pitted the Steelers against the Green Bay Packers.

In the message from Mr. White's legislative email account to Range vice president Ray Walker, government affairs director Carl Carlson, and spokesman Matt Pitzarella, he asks: "If the Range plane was heading down, any chance we could stowaway in the cargo hold?"

Mr. White says the message was a joke and that he understood there was no corporate jet. He describes the disclosure of the private emails as part of an effort to discredit him because of the pointed questions he began to ask about their practices.

"I'm the guy that can't be bought by Range, so I'm the one they have to go after," Mr. …

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