Keystone XL Lobbying: Timing of Donations to Senators Disclosed
Posted at 9:54 a.m. on July 28, 2014
Five U.S. senators received donations from a firm that was hired to promote the Keystone XL pipeline within a month of their aides’ having met with a representative of that firm, the Toronto Star reports:
Kelly Bingel, a well-connected lobbyist with Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti Inc. in Washington, D.C., met with members of the staff of 20 U.S. senators between March and May 2013 to “better articulate the benefit of Alberta’s energy resource development,” according to documents filed with the U.S. Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Five of those meetings, the documents show, occurred around the same time that Bingel handed over political contributions to those five senators’ campaign committees.
At least three of the donations took place between March and April of 2013, during which time the firm had a contract with provincial Alberta, Canada, government to promote the pipeline, the Star reported.
The news outlet did not identify a direct connection between the donations and the lobbying effort.
The newspaper said that Kay Hagan, D-N.C., Mark Udall, D-Colo., Max Baucus, D-Mont., and two other senators received donations within a month of meetings between aides and Bingel. More from the Star:
While not illegal, such contributions, consumer advocates say, underscore the cozy relationship between lobbyists and members of Congress on Capitol Hill.
“It’s both highly unethical and business as usual,” Craig Holman, the government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen, a public advocacy group based in Washington, told the Star. “There are a couple of influence peddling tools that K Street lobbyists can afford employing, and one of them is making campaign contributions and bundling contributions to those who they are trying to influence.”