DOJ asked to investigate TransCanada lobbyist
Friends of the Earth, which released a series of emails between the State Department and TransCanada lobbyist Paul Elliott last week, is now asking the Department of Justice to investigate possible legal violations based on those communications.
In a letter to the DOJ, the group says:
On behalf of Friends of the Earth, I am submitting the following information to demonstrate that, Paul Elliott, a government relations employee of TransCanada, has acted as agent of a foreign principal and therefore violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act. We respectfully request that you immediately open an investigation of this matter…
Documents obtained by Friends of the Earth from the State Department under the Freedom of Information Act demonstrate that as early as September 2009, Paul Elliott, an employee in the government Relations Department of TransCanada, and a former senior campaign aide to then Senator Hillary Clinton, was seeking to lobby officials of the State Department. For example, in May of 2010, he organized and attended a lobby meeting between TransCanada President and CEO, Hal Kvisle, and David Goldwyn, Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs, Office of the Coordinator of International Energy Affairs Bureau of Economic, Energy, and Business Affairs, and Michael Sullivan, Bureau of Economic, Energy and Business Affairs, of the State Department (Exhibit 1). The meeting, which may have also included Matthew
McManus, Energy Producer-Country Affairs Division Chief, Office of International Energy and Commodity Policy at the State Department, addressed proposed comments and stakeholder lobbying on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Elliott followed up this meeting by transmitting a letter from Brian Schweitzer, Governor of Montana, to Goldwyn, McManus and
other contacts at the State Department, in order to convey further information about support for the pipeline proposal (Exhibit 2). The letters to State continued with one addressed to President Obama and copied to Secretaries Clinton and Chu and Director Browner (Exhibit 3).
Meetings at the State Department were only part of TransCanada’s efforts to influence decisions regarding the KXL pipeline. Mr. Elliott reports that he and the President and CEO of TransCanada met with Senators Inhofe, Thune, Tester, Nelson and Murkowski and Representatives Herseth Sandlin and Peter Welsh in May of 2010 (Exhibit 1).
Paul Elliott registered under the Lobby Disclosure Act on December 16, 2010 (Exhibit 4)•. The current and anticipated lobbying issues identified omit the KXL Pipeline and curiously include the Waxman-Markey bill (passed by the House of Representatives on June 26, 2009 which then died in the Senate July of 2010) and the Kerry Boxer bill (introduced in October of 2009 and no longer active). Accordingly, during 2009 and 2010, Elliott states he engaged in federal lobbying
on behalf of TransCanada which required FARA registration.
Violations of FARA can result in significant fines.