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BP Spent More on Lobbying as Gulf Oil Well Gushed

BP Plc’s spending to lobby Congress in the second quarter rose 6.3 percent from the first as the company dealt with the fallout from its gushing Gulf of Mexico oil well.

London-based BP paid more than $1.7 million to firms such as Podesta Group and Duberstein Group from April through June, an increase from $1.6 million for January through March, according to congressional filings today.

“Here is a company that is under siege,” said Meredith McGehee, policy director for the Campaign Legal Center of Washington. “They need an ability to reach out to influential policy makers and go tell their story.”

Firms runs by Kenneth Duberstein, a former chief of staff to President Ronald Reagan, and Tony Podesta, brother of John Podesta, who ran President Barack Obama’s transition team, received almost $220,000 from BP, according to the filings. Podesta received $120,000 in the quarter, double the total reported from BP from January through March. Duberstein reported $100,000 for each quarters.

The lobbying disclosures don’t cover all such expenses related to the spill, McGehee said. BP hired The Brunswick Group to direct communications and has used legal and public policy firm WilmerHale for help on investigations, advertising firm Purple Strategies on its public response and Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide for advice on digital media such as Facebook and Twitter.

Trade Group Dues

BP, Europe’s second-biggest oil company by market value, reported in April that it spent $3.5 million to lobby during the first quarter. In July, the company filed an amended report showing $1.6 million on lobbying in the quarter.

The company reported $4.03 million for lobbying in the second quarter last year.

The initial first-quarter report and 2009 spending included dues to the American Petroleum Institute, the industry’s Washington-based trade group, for grassroots and state lobbying activities that aren’t covered by the current reports, said Scott Dean, a BP spokesman.

Trade associations, nonprofit groups, companies and lobbying firms are required to report every quarter on spending to influence legislation or policies in the federal government. Reports were due yesterday.

Other companies tied to the worst spill in U.S. history also turned to lobbyists as congressional panels began investigating the disaster and policy makers weighed restrictions on drilling.

Transocean, Anadarko

Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling, the Houston-based subsidiary of Transocean Ltd. of Geneva, paid $120,000 to Capitol Hill Consulting, a firm that includes former Representative Bill Brewster, an Oklahoma Democrat. Transocean is the owner of the rig that exploded and sank in April.

Anadarko Petroleum Corp., which owns 25 percent of BP’s ruptured well, spent more than $1.3 million to lobby Congress, up from $1.2 million in the first quarter, according to the filings.

Anadarko’s lobbyists include former Senator Don Nickles, an Oklahoma Republican. The oil production companies paid the Nickles Group $75,000 in the first and second quarters.

Hogan Lovells, a law firm that lobbies lawmakers, also represented Anadarko in the quarter. Its team includes Michael House, a former Democratic Senate staff aide, and Candida Wolff, President George W. Bush’s former chief lobbyist. Hogan, which registered to lobby for Anadarko in June, reported $40,000 in expenses for the quarter.

Mitsui, Nalco

Mitsui Oil Exploration Co., a subsidiary of Mitsui & Co. that owns 10 percent of the well, recently hired Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman as its lobbying firm in Washington, according to public records. The firm didn’t report spending on Mitsui’s behalf in the quarter.

Nalco Holding Co. of Naperville, Illinois, which makes the Corexit chemical BP is using to break up the oil, paid $160,000 to Ogilvy Government Relations of Washington in the second quarter. Environmental groups including the Environmental Defense Fund have said the dispersant may harm the environment.

The documents include general descriptions of issues being discussed with lawmakers. BP paid Eris Group of Washington $30,000 to lobby on oil-spill issues, according to the records.

Jennifer Bendall, a former policy adviser to Republican Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, and Jesse McCollum, a former chief of staff to Democratic Representative Ron Klein of Florida, are representing BP within the Eris Group.

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