You’ve Met the Gulf Oil Spill Lobbyists — How About the Lawyers?
The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein tallied lobbying disclosures yesterday to find BP snapping up more than two dozen new lobbying hires with previous congressional or White House experience — an eye-popping total even for a corporation that has quickly become the nation’s most infamous.
But considering the flood of liability claims and congressional inquiries facing BP and the contractors who worked on the ill-fated Deepwater Horizon rig, their existing K Street help is sure to be followed by high-powered legal teams. And as the National Law Journal reported on Tuesday, the corporations on the hook for the Gulf disaster are hiring lawyers with high-level bipartisan political connections.
BP has signed up Jamie Gorelick, the Department of Justice’s No. 2 official during the Clinton administration and a former member of the 9/11 Commission. Gorelick, also a registered lobbyist with Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Door, told Greenwire that her duties would focus on responding to congressional requests rather than “advocat[ing] for any position.” Still, her status in the capital — Gorelick was said to be in the mix as a possible Obama Attorney General — makes her an invaluable ally for the beleaguered oil giant.
Cameron International Corp., the contractor that manufactured the “blowout preventer” that failed on the Deepwater rig, has signed up Williams & Connolly counselor Emmet Flood, according to the Law Journal. Flood is best known for serving as special counsel to then-President George W. Bush, when he was a leading player in the complex negotiations over which high-ranking White House officials would agree to testify about the U.S. attorney firings scandal. Flood’s official biography notes that he also represented Vice President Dick Cheney in the civil lawsuit filed by outed CIA agent Valerie Plame and President Bill Clinton during his impeachment trial.
Transocean, the company that owned the Deepwater rig, has anted up by retaining John Beisner of Skadden Arps. Beisner is currently a registered lobbyist on judicial issues for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, but the Law Journal points out that his most significant experience lies in high-profile corporate liability cases:
A decade ago, when Beisner was an O’Melveny & Myers partner, he represented Ford Motor Co. regarding defects in more than 60 million tires, and he was part of the legal team in 2007 for Merck & Co. in litigation over its prescription pain killer, Vioxx.
Halliburton, another contractor on the Deepwater rig, has turned to a counsel with less time in the corporate misconduct trenches and fewer political connections but a strong background in the oil industry. Jeffrey Turner at Patton Boggs, reported as Halliburton’s point man on the Gulf spill, currently lobbies for the Ad Hoc Deep Water Exploration and Production Coalition, a group of oil companies (including BP) that has spent years fighting congressional attempts to rewrite offshore drilling royalty contracts that helped corporations reap a windfall during the Bush administration.