Natural Gas Industry Hires Politicians’ Relatives

Friday, June 27, 2014
Joe Biden and son Hunter (photo: Charles Dharapak, AP)

There’s more than one way to gain influence in political circles. Campaign contributions are a mainstay, as is lobbying. But a new approach involves hiring the relatives of lawmakers and other powerful figures to help achieve their political ends.

 

From the White House to Capitol Hill, the natural gas industry has employed the children, siblings and others related to politicians as part of its strategizing, according to a National Memo article by Lee Fang, who is a reporting fellow with The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute.

 

Burisma Holdings, a gas company in Ukraine, now counts the son of Vice President Joe Biden (Hunter Biden) among its board members. Biden recently traveled to Ukraine to announce a $50 million aid package which, according to Fang, could increase Burisma’s profits.

 

Energy Corporation of America (ECA) in West Virginia snapped up the son of U.S. Representative Shelley Moore Capito (R), bringing him aboard as in-house counsel. Arch Moore Capito is also the grandson of the state’s late governor Arch Moore. Rep. Moore has not only established herself as a big advocate for the expansion of natural gas drilling with numerous votes in support of the industry, she has—prior to her son joining ECA—praised the energy firm on the House floor. ECA, in kind, has been one of Capito’s biggest and most loyal campaign donors, with $60,000 contributed to the legislator’s coffers to date. Since 2008, ECA has been cited for least 23 pollution violations.

 

Also in the House, Representative Bill Shuster (R-Pennsylvania), chairman of the House Transportation Committee, which oversees pipeline safety regulations, has a brother, Robert Shuster, who lobbies for EQT Corporation, a major player in Appalachia natural gas. He was, in fact, retained by EQT to specifically work on “issues related to the regulation of shale gas production and pipeline safety initiatives,” according to lobbying registration forms.

Representative John Carter’s (R-Texas) son, Teddy Carter, has spent the past four years lobbying for Texas independent drilling companies involved in fracking and traditional oil and gas extraction.

 

In the Senate, Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin’s nephew, Marty Durbin, is now president of America’s Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA), which represents fracking companies. Senator Durbin recently came out in support of expediting the export of liquefied natural gas, which is one of ANGA’s lobbying goals, according to Fang.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Danny Biederman

 

To Learn More:

The Fracking Candidate: It’s All In The Family For Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (by Lee Fang, National Memo)

Banks Gave $1.8 Million to Congressmen Who “Grilled” Them (AllGov)

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