Obama hires lobbyist who pushed Keystone pipeline and Comcast merger

By Jon Collins
Tuesday, October 25, 2011 at 8:42 am

President Obama’s 2012 campaign has a new senior adviser — a former lobbyist for the company pushing the Keystone XL pipeline, who also lobbied for Comcast throughout the period that the media conglomerate was seeking approval for its merger with NBC-Universal.

The campaign hired Broderick Johnson of the lobbying firm Bryan Cave LLP this week. According to U.S. House of Representatives records, Johnson lobbied to “support submission of a presidential permit for Keystone XL pipeline” in the final quarter of 2010.

Environmentalists are upset with the pipeline and with Pres. Barack Obama’s unwillingness to reconsider the project.

According to Friends of the Earth campaigner Kim Huynh:

“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.”

On Oct. 6, Friends of the Earth and the Center for International Environmental Law and Corporate Ethics International amended (pdf) a Freedom of Information Act request to include a request for State Department documents involving Johnson and other pipeline lobbyists.

Bryan Cave earned more than $1 million from 2009-2011 from its lobbying activities on behalf of TransCanada.

Johnson was also a lobbyist in Comcast’s massive effort to influence the Federal Communications Commission to approve a merger with NBC-Universal, which made it one of the biggest media conglomerates in American history, as the Minnesota Independent reported. Sen. Al Franken was a prominent critic of the merger, which consumer advocates said would reduce options and increase costs for customers.

Brian Cave LLP received at least $440,000 in lobbying income from Comcast from 2009-2011, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. Johnson is listed on the House disclosure forms throughout the period, some of the forms disclose his role as “advocacy work regarding Comcast/NBC-U transaction.”

The Comcast merger was approved in early 2011. Later this year, Comcast snapped up FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker, who supported the merger, as the new Comcast vice president for government affairs, what’s known in Capitol circles as the “revolving door.”

Johnson himself has held a number of official and lobbying positions, including deputy assistant to the President for legislative affairs in the Clinton White House. Johnson was also an informal advisor for Obama’s 2008 election, according to his bio on another firm’s website.

Ed Brayton contributed to this report.

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Steve Gerdes
Comment posted October 25, 2011 @ 11:42 am

Why do you do shit like this? People like this are exactly what the 99% are fighting against all across the country. How do you expect to get re-elected by spitting in the face of all the people who put you in office in the first place? Do you really think that the oil companies and their cronies are going to vote for you, even if you continue to keep kissing their asses by hiring their lobbyists? Think again, and get yourself away from losers like this guy before you lose all of us in the process!

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Don Devine
Comment posted October 25, 2011 @ 12:37 pm

@Steve Gerdes — Agree completely! You’ve spoken for me. Could not have said it better. It’s almost like he’s TRYING to self destruct with decisions like this.

sharon collins
Comment posted October 25, 2011 @ 12:55 pm

I am So Disappointed ! Think of the future — think of your future grandchildren…..WE NEED SAFE ALTERNATIVE ENERGY — and CONSERVATION…
We do not need oil spills — ont on land nor on sea.
It seems you make 1/2 step forward — and then a full step or more backwards into the muck.

Comment posted October 25, 2011 @ 12:56 pm

Dear Steve, we don’t and have never elected the president, the electoral college does. If no one voted at all the electoral college would still elect the president. If anything this just show how we really are the 99% and we have no representation in Washington period!

Pamela Dritt
Comment posted October 25, 2011 @ 1:10 pm

@Steve Gerdes Well said!

Obama clearly doesn’t realize the vast majority of voters are far more progressive than he is, especially on the environment. I feel betrayed as I watch his policies continue to aid the flow of wealth to the top, selling his supporters out to benefit the one percent. I’m in the top ten percent, and, like Warren Buffet, I don’t want to live in the kind of world we’re making.

If he wants to create jobs, President Obama should not permit the Keystone XL pipeline (few short-term construction jobs,) but should immediately enforce the EPA regulations on ozone, mercury, and other emissions. That would create many long-term technical and engineering jobs, increase innovation, help the economy, improve the environment, and reduce health-care costs. All using large profits from big coal and big oil rather than taxpayer dollars to pay for it.

Bookworm Bev
Comment posted October 25, 2011 @ 3:52 pm

At one point, before he was elected, he challenged the voters to “make him” do what is right. Time to take up the challenge! Support the Occupy movement and remember that there may be 100 senators, there may be 400 uber-rich, but there are 300 million of US! “We must all stand together or we’ll all fall apart.”

eddie radillo
Comment posted October 25, 2011 @ 9:00 pm

It totally amazes me that churches avoid discussing issues surrounding the serious threat the Keystone XL pipeline will cause to God’s creation. How can anyone stand by and become subserviant to a company who has a terrible saftey record and extremely low marks.
A teacher who has to keep a child back a grade in school for the child’s benefit has to learn, in life, that a choice like this will can prevent a child from failing later in life.
The moral of the story is we must make choices that are the right choices in life for the benefit of others. The choice for the benefit of others is to emphatically say NO to the Keystone XL Toxic Tarsands Oil!

Comment posted October 25, 2011 @ 10:34 pm

To paraphrase a C student from Yale, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…is that really your campaign strategy for 2012? We’ll let you know how we feel about that at the Democratic convention.”

Cathy Latourelle
Comment posted October 27, 2011 @ 10:37 am

While it also troubles me (based on this guy’s recent lobbying successes) that Obama has hired this lobbyist , I’m interested in the fact that this guy is obviously good at what he does. I think it is smart for Obama to get Broderick Johnson working for him rather than against him, if you will.

chuck conly
Comment posted October 29, 2011 @ 4:14 am

Of the only alternative energy sources allowed by the environmentalists….NONE are yet practicle, Solar and wind take too much land (the environmentalists want all land converted into wilderness preserves. It takes about 10 acres of solar cells to run a small AC and charge batteries to run it after dark. Bio fuels still use more fossil fuels to produce than they create. We will need fossil fuels until we get at least one green source producing cheaply. recently 4 more solar companies and 2 geothermal companies, heavily subsidized , have declared bankruptcy. The technologys are not yet ready! But knowing this, some still demand we shutdown ALL energy sources NOW! You might look into their hidden plans?

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