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Oops! Lobbyist accidentally exposes nasty tactics

by Joan Lowy Thursday, Jul. 08, 2004 at 3:48 PM

Since 1998, The Competitive Enterprise Institute has received nearly .5 million in donations from ExxonMobil, the world's largest oil company. Now they're gunning for Senators in favor of legislation to combat global warming.

Lobbyist e-mail tears into senators

July 7, 2004

A lobbying strategy memo that describes targeted senators in unusually disparaging terms was inadvertently sent to news reporters Wednesday by an industry supported think tank opposed to legislation to combat global warming.

The memo describes Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., as "our leading internationalist (who) wants to send even more manufacturing jobs in Indiana overseas so that important diplomats at UN receptions will be nice to him."

Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., "hates Bush" and "is increasingly frail," the memo said. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., another targeted senator, probably will not change his vote, the memo says, "but it's fun to see him squirm back home." Other senators are described in similarly negative fashion.

Myron Ebell, head of the climate section at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and a prominent figure in public policy debates over global warming, acknowledged that he inadvertently sent "three or four reporters" a memo outlining the lobbying strategy of opponents to the bipartisan global-warming bill.

"I was sort of careless," Ebell said in response to a call from Scripps Howard News Service. "I'm always blunt. Anything I produce I'm not ashamed of having publicized."

The bill outlines a lobbying strategy, including a list of targeted senators and talking points for defeating a bill sponsored by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn. The bill is aimed at curbing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions.

The bill was defeated in the Senate last fall, but garnered more votes than generally expected. McCain has said he hopes to get another vote on the bill, possibly this week.

"It is not clear at all that he (McCain) will get more votes than the 43 Senators who voted in favor last October 30th. But we need to work to make sure," Ebell wrote in the memo.

"On the other side, the environmentalists are working this vote very hard and spending lots of money that our side doesn't have. They are trying to flood offices with phone calls."

Targeted senators identified in the memo include:

-- Evan Bayh, D-Ind., who "voted yes because Lugar voted yes ... As Governor, Bayh helped a once economically buoyant State become a laggard, so why wouldn't he want Indiana to keep declining."

-- Peter Fitzgerald, R-Ill., "who voted no last time. Fitzgerald leans Green and is retiring, which always encourages irresponsibility. So he needs shoring up."

-- Arlen Specter, R-Pa., who "likes to surprise us, although seldom in the right way."

The Competitive Enterprise Institute has received nearly .5 million in donations since 1998 from ExxonMobil, the world's largest oil company, according to a recent report by the environmental group Greenpeace.

Ebell confirmed in an interview that ExxonMobil contributes about 0,000 to 0,000 a year to the climate section he heads up.

"Geez, these guys are pretty ruthless," said Mark Helmke, a spokesman for Lugar and a former lobbyist. "When you say disparaging things about members you sure don't ingratiate yourself."

Casey Aden-Wansbury, a spokesman for Lieberman, said the memo is an indication "our opponents think our bill could pass -- and they're right."
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