Mary Landrieu Bows To The Inevitable, Becomes DC Lobbyist

LANDPRESS
Former US Senator Mary Landrieu, who spent a long and undistinguished political career shilling for the energy industry, has joined DC lobbying firm Van Ness Feldman and will focus on serving the firm’s energy clients. Though Landrieu is banned from lobbying her former colleagues in Congress until 2017, she is free to lobby the executive branch and tell her paymasters the best way to work the Senate for maximum profit.

Though politicians becoming lobbyists has become commonplace, Landrieu’s move to Van Ness is particularly odious given her conduct in the Senate – something Landrieu actually celebrated in a press release announcing her sell-out move saying “I am proud to join Van Ness Feldman. I have always respected the firm and worked closely with them during my 18 years in the Senate.”

In exchange for then-Senator Landrieu “working closely” with them, Van Ness gave Landrieu a good deal of money:

In the 2014 election cycle, Van Ness gave more money to Landrieu in both total donations ($14,350) and from its PAC ($7,500) than to any other member of Congress; the former senator, who lost her seat in a December runoff, collected about 17 percent of the $129,800 the firm’s PAC and employees gave out…

In 2013, the firm also represented TransCanada Corp, the company in charge of building the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline if it gets final approval. Landrieu supported the construction of the pipeline while in the Senate, and even brought her Republican opponent’s (then-Rep. Bill Cassidy) bill to the Senate floor in what was viewed as a last ditch effort to potentially prevent her defeat (though the proposed route doesn’t run through Louisiana).

But to be fair, Landrieu shilled for numerous donors in the energy industry while serving in public office including Exxon Mobil, NextEra Energy, Chevron Corp and ConocoPhillips. Landrieu was an equal opportunity miscreant, she took money from the high and higher alike.

Then again, might there be a larger point worth pondering when one looks at the crooked trajectory of Mary Landrieu? Perhaps this is an opportune time to consider whether or not having career politicians necessitates a corrupt revolving door between industry and government. After all, what marketable skills does former Senator Landrieu have besides selling out the public interest?

Image via US Senate under public domain.

FBI Spied ‘Beyond Its Authority’ on Keystone XL Opponents

No Tar Sands, Y'all

New investigation reveals agency’s actions amounted to ‘substantial non-compliance’ with its own rules

By Nadia Prupis

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) broke its own internal rules when it spied on Keystone XL opponents in Texas, violating guidelines designed to prevent the agency from becoming overly involved in complex political issues, a new report by the Guardian and Earth Island Journal published Tuesday has revealed.

Internal documents acquired by the outlets through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request show how the FBI failed to get approval for launching investigations into Houston-based protesters, whom the agency labeled “environmental extremists,” and held a bias in favor of the controversial tar sands pipeline—currently awaiting federal approval—extolling its supposed economic benefits in one document which outlined reasons for spying on its opponents.

“Many of these extremists believe the debates over pollution, protection of wildlife, safety, and property rights have been overshadowed by the promise of jobs and cheaper oil prices,” the file states. “The Keystone pipeline, as part of the oil and natural gas industry, is vital to the security and economy of the United States.”

The Guardian reports:

Between November 2012 and June 2014, the documents show, the FBI collated inside knowledge about forthcoming protests, documented the identities of individuals photographing oil-related infrastructure, scrutinised police intelligence and cultivated at least one informant.

….However, the partially redacted documents reveal the investigation into anti-Keystone activists occurred without prior approval of the top lawyer and senior agent in the Houston field office, a stipulation laid down in rules provided by the attorney general.

Additionally, the FBI appeared to have opened its file on the Keystone XL opponents in 2013 following a meeting between officials from the agency and TransCanada, the company building the pipeline.

“For a period of time—possibly as long as eight months—agents acting beyond their authority were monitoring activists aligned with [direct action climate group] Tar Sands Blockade,” the Guardian writes.

Dozens of activists were arrested in Texas in late 2012, although none were accused of violent crime or property damage, according to key Tar Sands Blockade organizer, Ron Seifert.

“Less than a month after TransCanada showed the FBI a PowerPoint claiming that people opposed to [Keystone XL] need to be watched, Houston’s FBI office cuts corners to start an investigation; it’s not surprising but it is revealing of who they really work for,” Seifert told Common Dreams on Monday. “The FBI has been harassing and actively repressing communities of organizers for decades.”

Yet more records show that the FBI associated the Tar Sands Blockade, which organizes peaceful protests, with other “domestic terrorism issues.”

Other documents suggest that the Houston-based investigation was only one of a larger probe, possibly monitoring other anti-Keystone XL activists around the country.

“We’re not surprised,” Seifert continued. “We’re also not deterred. Movements for climate and environmental justice are activating people from diverse political backgrounds to take direct action to defend themselves from threats like [Keystone XL]. People are stepping out of the blind alleys of electoral politics and building grassroots power, and that’s scary for people who want a monopoly on power.”

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