New developments suggest former Clinton staffer dodged rules while lobbying Congress

New developments from Washington, DC reveal that lobbyists for TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline acted inappropriately while trying to gain support for the crude pipeline that would connect the Alberta Tar Sands with the Gulf of Mexico. Recent reports show that a chief lobbyist for TransCanada tried to influence American energy policy without filing under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). The reports also show a “cozy” relationship between Hillary Clinton’s State Department and TransCanada, as well as direct contact between the unregistered lobbyists and several members of congress. This news comes as the State Department continues to give every indication that it will allow the pipeline to be built, despite outcries from both the environmental community as well as those outraged about the ethical bankruptcy coming from Hillary Clinton’s department.

FARA violations

The FARA requires that any foreigners attempting to influence the United States Congress must register with the FARA Registration Unit of the Department of Justice. Emails between the State Department and TransCanada’s government relations employee Paul Elliott show that contact between the two had taken place form more than a year before he first registered as a lobbyist. This activity has resulted in questionable actions calling for a full investigation according to a report filed on September 27th. “Paul Elliott, a government relations employee of TransCanada, has acted as agent of a foreign principal and therefore violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act. We respectfully request that you immediately open an investigation of this matter,” Friends of the Earth attorney Gail Harmon wrote in a letter to Heather Hunt of the FARA Registration Unit of the Department of Justice.

The “cozy” relationship

Paul Elliott’s connections to Hillary Clinton are well documented. Elliott was a high-level campaign advisor to Clinton when she was running for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2008. When her campaign fizzled, Elliott jumped aboard TransCanada’s lobbying team as the company geared up to convince the Obama administration that a pipeline carrying millions of barrels of crude oil across the country was a good idea. Emails obtained by Friends of the Earth reveal that while Elliot was contacting members of the United States government illegally, the State Department was providing, “insider information and coaching to Mr. Elliot and TransCanada.”

“Friends” in Congress

Even though TransCanada can face “serious penalties” for failing to immediately disclose their lobbying activity in the United States, it didn’t keep the multinational corporation from reaching out to members of both political parties. Some of the members that discussed the pipeline with Elliott’s team include Sens. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Ala.).