Greenpeace Asks Schumer to Investigate Big Oil’s Senate Rules Violations

For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 
Contact: 

greenpeace.org

Greenpeace Asks Schumer to Investigate Big Oil’s Senate Rules Violations

WASHINGTON - Greenpeace Executive Director Phil Radford
today sent a letter to Senate Rules and Administration Committee
Chairman Chuck Schumer (D-NY) asking him to investigate the
controversial "forum" co-sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute
(API) and Newsweek Magazine on Tuesday in the Mansfield Room of the US
Capitol Building.

The event, which, which was moderated by Newsweek
columnist Howard Fineman, featured a panel that included API President Jack
Gerard, Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Representatives Ed Markey (D-MA) and Fred
Upton (R-MI). The "forum" was organized to discuss the pending clean energy and
climate legislation before the Senate. During the event, promotional materials
were distributed and displayed using Newsweek's
and API's corporate logos, a clear violation of Senate rules.

As Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee,
Schumer has jurisdiction over violations of Senate rules regarding Senate-run
facilities on the Capitol grounds.

Any requests for photographic evidence of the
brochures and signs on display at the event should be directed to Adam Feiler
at afeiler@greenpeace.org.

The full text of the letter from Radford is
below.

 

-----------------------------

 

December 3, 2009

 

Senator
Charles Schumer

Senate
Committee on Rules and Administration

305 Russell
Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

 

Dear Senator Schumer,

As you may know, on Tuesday, December 1st, Newsweek Magazine and the American
Petroleum Institute (API) co-sponsored a controversial "forum" in the Mansfield
Room (S-207) in the US Capitol Building. According to the admission of public
relations staff at Newsweek and
several news accounts, API paid Newsweek enough
to make the trade group eligible to co-sponsor an "Executive Forum." As part of
API's advertising deal with Newsweek,
the group's President, registered lobbyist Jack Gerard, was granted the only
non-governmental seat on the panel aside from a Newsweek editor.

After reviewing the Senate Rules governing events held at
the US Capitol, I believe this forum violated the guidelines governing events
held in the Senate Wing of the US Capitol or in Senate office buildings. I am
writing to urge you to investigate this matter and share the findings of that
investigation with the public. Additionally, I hope you will consider the
greater impact that this type of conduct could have on the public's perception
of the United States Congress. The United States Capitol is not a convention
center with rooms available to the lobbyist who signs the largest check, nor is
it a venue for any private, profit-making company to promote its product.

The Senate Committee on Rules and Administration provides
clear guidance for events held in taxpayer-funded facilities like the Capitol:

Commercial, Promotional or Profit Making Events

                 *
Booking and use of Senate space for any commercial, promotional, or
profit-making purpose is strictly prohibited.

                
* No signs, placards, photographs, brochures or pamphlets displaying a group or
company name or logo are permitted.

                
* No products or services may be promoted or sold on the premises. No
promotional material may be distributed on the premises.

Several members of my staff attended the "forum" and
provided the details below that prove that this event was beyond the pale of
acceptable conduct within the walls of the US Capitol. You will find attached
with this letter documentation of many of the claims made below.

The "forum", which was moderated by Newsweek columnist Howard Fineman, featured a panel that included
Gerard and three members of Congress: Senator Byron Dorgan, Representative
Edward Markey and Representative Fred Upton. Other members of Congress and
their staff also attended the "forum", which included food, wine, and beer as
refreshments, the cost of which was presumably covered by API's package deal.
Despite the Senate rule banning promotional materials and company names and
logos, the Mansfield room was covered in brochures, signs and other materials
that outwardly promoted API, Newsweek
and the magazine's advertisers. Examples include:

  • At the beginning of the "forum" each seat was
    covered by an API brochure that featured the group's logo and included the
    tagline "America's oil and natural gas industry supports over 9 million jobs.
    One of them may be yours."
  • Newsweek
    provided every attendee with copies of its magazine and other materials that
    included paid advertisements.
  • Posters located at the front of the room and at
    the entrance to the Mansfield room included both Newsweek's and API's corporate logos.

These materials appear to be in clear violation of the rules
banning promotional material in the Senate wing of the Capitol and Senate
office buildings. I hope you share my shock that API was permitted to pay Newsweek for the opportunity to directly
influence members of Congress and their staff with brochures and other
information just steps from the Senate floor. It is equally disturbing that Newsweek was permitted to use the room
in the first place and to distribute copies of the publication, which included
numerous advertisements.

As you and your colleagues debate energy and climate
legislation that could put our nation on the course to a new clean energy
economy, I hope you agree that it is critically important to ensure that no
lobbyist or interest group is able to buy special "pay-to-play" access to
influence members or their staff. This "Executive Forum" clearly violated the
"letter of the law" governing events at the US Capitol and it threatens to
undermine Congress's

###

Independent campaigning organization that uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems, and to force solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.

Share This Article

More in: