March 25, 2014

Staffers Managing Gardner’s LNG Export Hearing Are Former Gas Lobbyists

Today, the congressional subcommittee on Energy and Power is scheduled to hold a hearing on Rep. Cory Gardner’s (R-CO) bill to force the Obama administration to approve all application for new liquefied natural gas terminals used to export natural gas. A close look at the staffers involved with this particular subcommittee reveals that several have close ties to the LNG industry.

– Energy and Power staff counsel Patrick Currier is a former lobbyist for gas and energy companies, including the Gas Processors Association, FirstEnergy Corp, and the CCS Alliance.

– Energy and Power chief counsel Tom Hassenboehler is a former …

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March 22, 2014

Shame: Wall St Journal Compares Rule for Predatory Colleges to Obamacare

I thought it was a matter of time before defenders of America’s predatory for-profit colleges tried to equate President Obama’s effort to regulate those schools with Obamacare. In seeking to block Obama’s “gainful employment” rule, which would penalize career colleges that consistently leave their students worse off than they started, the industry’s arguments have been as misleading as their tactics have been unscrupulous. And now, it’s happened.

This morning, the Wall Street Journal has an editorial entitled “Education’s ObamaCare.” It calls the gainful employment rule “a regulatory assault on some of America’s most innovative and affordable schools,” when in fact …

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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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March 18, 2014
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Exxon’s Ongoing Love Affair With Russia

Rachel Maddow covered this subject pretty well last night in a piece titled ”Oil mega-corporations key to leverage over Russia” but really scratched the surface on the pressure Exxon may be exerting on the State Department right now over sanctions against Russia.

Her interview with Former Russian Ambassador Michael McFaul, who quit the post a month ago, had this interesting quote, which tells of the cozy and deep relationship between the State Department and multinational oil companies who call themselves American companies when useful. Maddow asked about how Exxon might be lobbying the State Department at this point.  McFaul …

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March 14, 2014
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Regulating For-Profit Colleges: On To The Next Round

This morning, the Obama Administration released its new proposed “gainful employment” rule, aimed at ending taxpayer support for college programs that claim to train people for careers as medical assistants, air conditioner repair technicians, or software coders, but instead consistently leave their former  students with shaky job prospects and insurmountable debt.

Most of the big for-profit colleges will automatically hate the new rule because, based on their outraged statements in public and private, they apparently believe their industry is entitled to a permanent flow of more than $30 billion annually in federal dollars, regardless of how poorly they are …

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March 13, 2014

Are Prison Labor Companies Lobbying to Keep Prisoners in Jail for Nonviolent Offenses?

In recent months, a broad, cross-ideological coalition has pressed forward to reform mandatory minimum prison sentencing. In some cases mandatory minimum sentencing can lead to a lifetime in jail for nonviolent offenders. But a strange group has appeared on lobby disclosure forms reviewed by Republic Report. Prison labor companies are attempting to influence the bill, and they refuse to reveal what they’re doing and why.

The group is called the Correctional Vendors Association, an organization that represents companies that use prison labor to produce everything from furniture to clothing goods. CVA has spent $240,000 on lobbying over the past year, …

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March 12, 2014

In 1991, Mitch McConnell Opposed Dark Money — While Openly Supporting Lower Voter Turnout

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is in the political fight of his life, as he faces a capable Democratic challenger in Allison Grimes and a primary opponent in Matt Bevin.

In defending his incumbency, McConnell has gone outright elitist, telling the media that the establishment is going to “crush” tea party challengers across the country.

McConnell’s victory or loss, particularly in the general election where he is polling very tightly with Grimes, will likely depend on voter turnout. Historically, midterm elections have lower turnout, and higher turnout tends to benefit anti-incumbent waves and more progressive candidates — both of which …

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March 12, 2014

Former Washington Post Co. Still Owns Stake in Embattled For-Profit Corinthian Colleges

Graham Holdings Co., the renamed corporation that owned the Washington Post newspaper before selling it to Jeff Bezos last year, retains a major stake in Corinthian Colleges, a for-profit education company that is under investigation by a range of federal and state law enforcement agencies. According to an SEC filing today, Graham Holdings has sold about 1.7 million shares of Corinthian this month, but still owns another 4.6 million, amounting to about 5.3 percent of the company’s shares.

Graham’s continued ownership of Corinthian highlights how a family company that once proudly owned a prestigious investigative newspaper has fallen into the position …

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