Green-energy lobbying firm Liebman & Associates is up front about the service it provides. “With Mr. Liebman’s strategic counsel,” explains the bio of President Murray Liebman, “L&A’s clients have secured well over one billion dollars ($1B) in federal government investment.”
Liebman followed through on that claim this week. The former staffer at the Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Interior Department, and White House Office on Environmental Quality personally lobbied for Teledyne Scientific and Imaging. It was rewarded with a $2.1 million grant from the Energy Department.
The latest batch of Energy Department handouts illustrates a universal political truth: When government holds the purse strings, the private companies and individuals that can make their voices heard in Washington are the ones who will benefit. The proliferation of the influence industry is a natural consequence of Washington’s growing role in private markets.
Other recipients of Energy Department funding in this latest round of “investment” illustrate the importance of a strong lobbying presence in securing federal dollars.
Take the American Iron and Steel Institute, which received a $7.1 million grant. AISI boasts an impressive lobbying presence, both among its internal staff, and the firms it has hired. It spent more than $300,000 on lobbying efforts in the first quarter of 2012 alone, according to disclosure forms, enlisting the expertise of a number of former congressional and federal officials.
Thomas Gibson, the organization’s president and CEO, has lobbied Congress directly on a range of issues. Gibson formerly served as associate administrator of the EPA’s Office of Policy, Economic and Innovation, and as the agency’s congressional liaison. He was also the majority staff director and majority counsel for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
Other officials at AISI have significant experience on Capitol Hill, working for the offices of former Sen. John Danforth (R-MO), Reps. Bob Riley (R-AL) and Phil Gingrey (R-GA) as well as the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, and House Natural Resources Committee.
AISI has also contracted out lobbying work to firms with notable political connections. It paid SC Partners $24,000 for its work in the first quarter of 2012. Lobbying on its behalf were two individuals who perviously worked for the secretary of Agriculture and United States Conference of Mayors.
Another $30,000 went to the Smith-Free Group for lobbying work done by an individual who worked for former EPA chief Carol Browner, former HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Other recipients of the latest batch of Energy Department handouts also enjoy significant political connections.
Richard Goodstein of Goodstein & Associates, who was paid $90,000 by Air Products and Chemicals to lobby Congress and the EPA, says “involvement in politics has been a constant” for him. President Bill Clinton appointed him to the EPA’s transition team in 1992. He has since served as a corporate liaison to the EPA.
Air Products got $1.2 million from this latest series of Energy Deparment grants.
Other beneficiaries also boast large lobbying footprints and have enlisted former government officials. These three companies are simply a sample, but they aptly illustrate the importance of influencing policymakers for companies and industries that stand to benefit from federal handouts.
Neither these lobbyists nor the companies that hired them are at fault here. Rather, the blame lies with an overly-intrusive government that makes political influence more profitable than productive business activities.