April 16, 2014
Sen. Joe Manchin

Sen. Manchin Defends Law Firm Accused of Concealing Black Lung Medical Evidence

Only one day after the Center for Public Integrity’s reporting series on denials of black lung benefits to coal miners was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) defended the controversial law firm at the center of the investigation.

As he stepped to the podium of the National Western Mining Convention in Denver on Tuesday, Manchin heaped praise upon Jackson Kelly, a sponsor of the event and the law firm implicated in unethically concealing medical evidence of miners dying of black lung.

“I want to thank my dear friends at Jackson Kelly,” exclaimed the senator. In his remarks, …

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March 19, 2014
Vladimir Putin embraces his business partner, ExxonMobil chief Rex Tillerson
Vladimir Putin embraces his business partner, ExxonMobil chief Rex Tillerson

Pundit, Politician Demands to Solve Crimean Crisis Fueled by Gas Lobby

A small group of pundits and politicians with close ties to the fossil fuel industry are using the crisis in Crimea to demand that the United States promote natural gas exports as a quick fix for the volatile situation. But such a solution, experts say, would cost billions of dollars, require years of development, and would not significantly impact the international price of gas or Russia’s role as a major supplier for the region. Rather, the move would simply increase gas prices for American consumers while enriching companies involved in the liquified natural gas (LNG) trade.

On Capitol …

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February 27, 2014

Obama Nominates SOPA Lobbyist for TPP Trade Post

This morning, President Obama nominated Robert Holleyman as deputy U.S. trade representative. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Holleyman will help lead the effort to pass the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

Notably, Holleyman is a former lobbyist who led efforts to pass the Stop Online Piracy Act legislation, better known as SOPA, when he was leader of the Business Software Alliance. The SOPA debate (along with its sister legislation, PROTECT-IP, in the Senate) brought a spotlight on industry efforts to undermine Internet freedom through what many considered to be draconian intellectual property policy.

Critics have pointed out, …

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February 26, 2014

Official Backing Conflicted KXL Study May Have Exposed State Dept. to Security Risk

Internal e-mails from the State Department show that a State Department official named Keith Benes played a leading role within the agency in defending the use of ERM, a former TransCanada business partner, in conducting the Environmental Impact Study of the Keystone XL pipeline. Benes drafted talking points and pushed back against press inquiries about the conflict of interest. A Republic Report review of these e-mails, disclosed through a Sierra Club Freedom of Information Act request, show that Benes may have exposed the State Department to a serious security risk by conducting his work in defense of ERM using …

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February 18, 2014
Comcast chief executive Neil Smit (left) and Brent Wilkes (center). Smit has been tapped to lead the merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable.
Comcast chief executive Neil Smit (left) and Brent Wilkes (center). Smit has been tapped to lead the merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable.

Comcast-Funded Latino Groups Celebrate Comcast Merger

While many community advocates expressed skepticism about the proposed merger between Comcast Corporation and Time Warner Cable, a certain subset of Latino organizations immediately celebrated the deal.

The “United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) congratulates Comcast for its planned acquisition of Time Warner Cable,” proclaimed a press release sent to reporters last week. “Comcast is an industry-leader in communications and mass media. Upon the completion of the merger, the company will plant its stake in the ground as one of the world’s most innovative and highly-regarded companies in the field,” said USHCC President and CEO Javier Palomarez.

Another press statement, …

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February 18, 2014

Refineries Seeking Canadian Tar Sands Quietly Finance Pro-Keystone XL Advocacy

The Consumer Energy Alliance has played a key role in building support for the Keystone XL pipeline. The group sponsored a pro-pipeline study, provided letters used by members of Congress to endorse the project, mobilized thousands of petitions to the State Department, and even created the website “BuildKXLNow.org.”

David Holt, president of CEA, portrays his group as a broad coalition, testifying to a congressional committee that he represents ”hundreds of thousands of grassroots supporters” and various stakeholder companies.

But disclosures show one of the largest contributors to CEA is a group of refineries seeking Canadian tar sands oil. …

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February 14, 2014

Pro-Keystone XL Labor’s Short Term Strategy: Fund Union-Busting

Several construction labor unions have decided to lend their support to the Keystone XL. Though critics charge that the pipeline will lead to a drastic increase in carbon emissions, the unions, including Laborers International Union and the International Union of Operating Engineers, have endorsed the project in exchange for several thousand short-term jobs and only 35 permanent jobs.

Trading a few jobs now for environmental destruction might seem like short-sighted strategy, but apparently such thinking runs deep in both unions.

According to a search of Department of Labor records, both the Laborers and the Engineers provided the U.S. Chamber …

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February 13, 2014

Revolving Door: Top Obama Admin Antitrust Officials Tied To Comcast

The news that cable and news giant Comcast has struck a deal to purchase Time Warner, another large cable business, has raised concerns over market concentration. Observers note that the combined company, even if it divests some holdings, would create monopoly-like conditions for the industry.

Many are predicting a lobbying blitz by both companies to pressure governments officials to accept the deal. When Comcast purchased NBC Universal, lobbyists were hired to ensure the merger went through. Critics charge that the payments went beyond the traditional influence industry: after signing off on the Comcast-NBC deal, FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker …

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