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That's because in the first three months of this year alone, the company at the heart of the current crisis, BP, has hired at least 27 lobbyists who formerly worked in Congress or the executive branch. The revolving door between the oil giant and elected office is spinning fast -- so much so that good government officials are hard-pressed to name a comparable organization with that much institutional clout on tap.
In the first three months of 2010 -- the three months that immediately preceded the explosion of its Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig -- BP spent more than $3.8 million dollars on lobbying the federal government. The cash was spread around seven prominent lobby shops within the D.C. area (including BP's own internal operation), who in turn employed 39 lobbyists to help the company push its legislative interests. That nearly 70 percent of those hired guns have experience in elected office doesn't surprise good government officials because those are after all the most sought-after hires on K Street.
Take, for instance, the company's hiring of the powerhouse Podesta Group, which was paid $60,000 in contracts in 2010. As part of the package, BP received the lobbying assistance of Paul Brathwaite who served as the Executive Director for the Congressional Black Caucus; Hewitt Strange, a former aide to Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA); Andrew Lewin, who served as Legislative Director for Rep. Dennis Moore (D-KS); Randall Gerard, who served as a staff member under Sen. John McCain (R-AZ); Tim Glassco, who was a congressional relations staff for Obama's Presidential Inaugural Committee; Teal Baker a "former high-level director" with the Obama for America campaign and one-time aide to Congressman Brian Baird (D-WA); David Marin who served as the Minority Staff Director of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in 2007; and Cristina Antelo, who worked for former Sens. Hillary Clinton and Tom Daschle. Then there is the head of the firm itself, Tony Podesta, who is one of the most powerful lobbyists in D.C., a one-time counsel to former Sen. Ted Kennedy and a lobbyist on the BP account.
The Podesta Group isn't the only major player working on BP's behalf. The Alpine Group has received $60,000 this year from the oil giant in lobbying contracts. Among the aides working on the account are Jason Schendle, who formerly served as legislative counsel to Senator Landrieu; Courtney Johnson, another veteran of Landrieu's staff; Bob Brooks, the former chief of staff to former Rep. Jim McCrery (R-La.), and Rebecca Hawes, the former legislative counsel to former Sen. John Breaux (D-La.).