Acadiana Business

WaPo: Oil and gas lobby almost tried to unseat Landrieu

by Heather Miller

Board members of the trade group' American Petroleum Institute narrowly rejected an idea to try and unseat U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, a big supporter of oil and gas, to prevent the filibuster-proof, 60-seat Democratic majority that the 2008 elections brought to the Senate. Despite her decades of support to the oil and gas industry, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu was a potential target of the oil and gas lobby in 2008, when board members of the "trade group" American Petroleum Institute rejected a proposal to try and unseat Landrieu.

The failed move, according to an in-depth article from The Washington Post on the American Petroleum Institute, was an effort to stop the U.S. Senate from gaining a filibuster-proof, 60-seat Democratic majority:
API's shift toward Republicans predates [API President Jack N.] Gerard's arrival. According to a person present at a board meeting in 2008, some members wanted to spend money to defeat industry loyalist Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) in order to prevent Democrats from gaining a filibuster-proof 60-vote majority in the Senate. Other board members blocked the idea.

Sources familiar with API say that Gerard was bold enough to once consider targeting powerful Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.). When asked, Gerard said only that "I know Chairman Baucus well" and that "we look at a lot of different members of Congress. .?.?. Over the course of time there will be a number under consideration." (Baucus's office declined to comment.)

Like many environmental groups, API uses social media to build a network of supporters. It's a tool Gerard says he learned about from people who worked for Obama's 2008 campaign. Gerard says API's role is transparent, but the Facebook sites of Energy Citizens (28,278 "like" this) and EnergyTomorrow (32,877 "like" that) identify themselves simply as nonprofit organizations. Only if readers click on the "about" section do they see "the organization is supported by API."

API has given relatively small grants to a litany of Republican causes. It gave $25,500 to Americans for Prosperity, the political action group run by the conservative Koch brothers; $25,000 to the Sixty Plus Association, devoted to ending the estate tax; $50,000 to Americans for Tax Reform, the Grover Norquist-led group that urges lawmakers to take a pledge not to raise taxes. API also gave $50,000 to the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute as well as the New Orleans-based America's Wetland Foundation.

Gerard says "energy is not about Republicans, not about Democrats. It is not a partisan issue. It's an issue that affects Americans at large."
Read the full story here.