Numerous Lobbyists Do BP's Bidding; Influence Extends to Both Political Parties
Byline: Jim McElhatton, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Weeks after the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico began, the fundraising arm for Senate Democrats circulated a petition to hold BP accountable while accusing Republicans of making excuses for bad environmental actors.
The petition noted that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) paid for the message, but didn't mention that the DSCC's own source of cash includes tens of thousands of dollars in political contributions raised earlier this year by a BP-hired lobbyist.
Tony Podesta, whose firm has earned $700,000 in lobbying fees from BP America Inc. since 2008, has raised at least $50,000 for the DSCC so far this year, according to Senate lobbying records and federal election filings.
The relationship between Mr. Podesta and the oil giant underscores the significant political muscle BP still has on Capitol Hill with both political parties, despite the outcries from lawmakers and the White House for a full investigation of the oil company's role in the spill and its response.
BP is one of the strongest lobbying and political forces in Washington, D.C., said Dave Levinthal, spokesman for the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. They've consistently spent millions of dollars every year on federal lobbying and, in the most recent years, they've increased the output to new heights.
Mr. Podesta's firm isn't BP's only lobbying powerhouse.
The oil company also enlists the services of the Duberstein Group, headed by Kenneth Duberstein, who was an aide to President Reagan, and Michael Berman, who was an aide to Vice President Walter F. Mondale. The firm hosted a fundraiser for California U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina in April, according to the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation.
It's unclear whether Mr. Podesta's lobbying on behalf of BP will affect his fundraising for the DSCC, even as the DSCC criticizes Republican lawmakers over ties to the oil giant. The DSCC, for instance, has railed against former Sen. Dan Coats, Indiana Republican, saying recently that big time clients of the law firm where he has worked include BP.
We have not taken money from BP this election cycle, Deirdre Murphy, a spokeswoman for the DSCC, said when asked about Mr. Podesta's fundraising and lobbying. Officials did not address questions about whether they would continue collecting contributions raised by Mr. …