BP Plc hired a lobbying firm led by former Republican aides in Congress and at the White House after the party won control of the U.S. House and the company stopped the worst offshore oil spill, according to federal records.
Fierce, Isakowitz & Blalock, a firm led by Republicans while Democrats controlled Congress and the White House in 2009-2010, registered last month to lobby for BP on “oil and gas production,” according to a document filed with the Senate Office of Public Records. Officials from London-based BP didn’t return calls seeking comment and the firm declined to comment.
Kirk Blalock and Kirsten Chadwick, aides to President George W. Bush, and Mark Isakowitz, former spokesman for the late Representative Paul Gillmor, an Ohio Republican, will be part of the company’s lobby team, according to the document.
BP has so far hired at least 25 people to lobby, including former members of Congress, and congressional and White House aides, said Craig Holman, a lobbyist for Public Citizen, a Washington-based group that monitors the actions of government.
The company is “hiring insiders who carry a great deal of influence on Capitol Hill and in the White House,” Holman said. “There is no better way of buying oneself back into the graces of Capitol Hill and the White House than through their former emissaries.”
BP spent $7.4 million lobbying last year while Congress investigated the April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that killed 11 workers and spewed crude into the Gulf of Mexico for almost three months.
The company, which spent $15.9 million in 2009, revised the calculation for lobbying expenditures last year, making year-to-year comparisons difficult.
BP’s lobbyists include Kenneth Duberstein, a former chief of staff to President Ronald Reagan, and Tony Podesta, a Democratic lobbyist whose brother, John, directed President Barack Obama’s 2008 transition team.
After the spill, BP hired the Eris Group, whose lobbyists are former aides to lawmakers from the Gulf Coast. The contract was terminated on Dec. 31, according to a document filed with the Senate public records office.
A BP political committee gave federal candidates $71,500 for the 2010 election, with $35,000 donated to Republicans. BP was the 27th-largest donor among oil and gas companies and trade associations, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
The House last year passed legislation that sought to toughen drilling safety and environmental rules and block BP from offshore drilling. The bill failed to pass in the Senate.
Republicans such as Representative Doc Hastings of Washington, chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, want to expand U.S. oil and gas production, which may benefit companies like BP, the largest oil and natural gas producer in the U.S.
BP may lobby for the clean-energy standard Obama is pushing to increase production of natural gas along with wind, solar, nuclear and “clean” coal, said Kenneth Green, an energy scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington-based think tank that promotes free-market policies.