Scott Pruitt and Devon Energy’s cozy relationship was exposed by the New York Times…
11:52 AM EST on December 8, 2014
"If integrity were celebrity, you'd know our employees by name."
If you're an Oklahoma City Thunder fan, there's a good chance you've heard that line a few thousand times in your life. It's from a dated, still running 2008 Devon Energy commercial that brags about the energy behemoth being named to Fortune's list of the "Most Admired Companies." The spot gives us a glimpse of a strange utopia where "Integrity is celebrity," and people idolize the founding fathers and worship hard-working, selfless individuals like firefighters, EMTs and... energy company executives.
The agency that produced the commercial described it like this:
Devon Energy is the antithesis of a category known for unethical behavior and questionable actions. Devon ranks #1 in Social Responsibility... In their advertising debut Devon wanted to celebrate their culture of doing things the right way and pay tribute to the employees who have made this a company of integrity.
Yes, Devon is the antithesis of a category known for unethical behavior and questionable actions. They are socially responsible, and they do things the right way... like buying off state attorneys general, including our very own Scott Pruitt, in order to advance the company's own interests over that of the public. You can't show more integrity than that.
We know all this thanks to a very detailed, exhaustive and probably award-winning investigative piece published in this past weekend's New York Times. The paper outlines the secret alliance that energy companies like Devon have with attorneys general all over the country. The piece hits Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt And Devon Energy especially hard. From the start, it chronicles and outlines the duo's cozy, secretive, "friends with benefits" relationship.
Via The New York Times:
The letter to the Environmental Protection Agency from Attorney General Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma carried a blunt accusation: Federal regulators were grossly overestimating the amount of air pollution caused by energy companies drilling new natural gas wells in his state.But Mr. Pruitt left out one critical point. The three-page letter was written by lawyers for Devon Energy, one of Oklahoma’s biggest oil and gas companies, and was delivered to him by Devon’s chief of lobbying.“Outstanding!” William F. Whitsitt, who at the time directed government relations at the company, said in a note to Mr. Pruitt’s office. The attorney general’s staff had taken Devon’s draft, copied it onto state government stationery with only a few word changes, and sent it to Washington with the attorney general’s signature. “The timing of the letter is great, given our meeting this Friday with both E.P.A. and the White House.”Mr. Whitsitt then added, “Please pass along Devon’s thanks to Attorney General Pruitt.”The email exchange from October 2011, obtained through an open-records request, offers a hint of the unprecedented, secretive alliance that Mr. Pruitt and other Republican attorneys general have formed with some of the nation’s top energy producers to push back against the Obama regulatory agenda, an investigation by The New York Times has found.The email exchange from October 2011, obtained through an open-records request, offers a hint of the unprecedented, secretive alliance that Mr. Pruitt and other Republican attorneys general have formed with some of the nation’s top energy producers to push back against the Obama regulatory agenda, an investigation by The New York Times has found.Attorneys general in at least a dozen states are working with energy companies and other corporate interests, which in turn are providing them with record amounts of money for their political campaigns, including at least $16 million this year.They share a common philosophy about the reach of the federal government, but the companies also have billions of dollars at stake. And the collaboration is likely to grow: For the first time in modern American history, Republicans in January will control a majority — 27 — of attorneys general’s offices.The Times reported previously how individual attorneys general have shut down investigations, changed policies or agreed to more corporate-friendly settlement terms after intervention by lobbyists and lawyers, many of whom are also campaign benefactors.But the attorneys general are also working collectively. Democrats for more than a decade have teamed up with environmental groups such as the Sierra Club to use the court system to impose stricter regulation. But never before have attorneys general joined on this scale with corporate interests to challenge Washington and file lawsuits in federal court.Out of public view, corporate representatives and attorneys general are coordinating legal strategy and other efforts to fight federal regulations, according to a review of thousands of emails and court documents and dozens of interviews.
Hard to believe, huh? Energy companies are using their money, power and influence to unethically rig the system in their favor. What's next? The Oklahoman protecting their friends and allies instead of reporting the news?
Actually, that would be what's next. Although it comes from The New York Times, America's most respected news outlet, and exposes unethical collaboration between our state's attorney general and well-known, publicly traded, local corporations like Devon and Continental Resources, a link or story about the report isn't mentioned anywhere on NewsOK.com, a website that currently links to stories on its front page like this...
And The Oklahoman wants to be my latex salesman...
Okay, this isn't exactly breaking news. Every politician – Democrat or Republican – is usually in bed with some special interest group, and we all know The Oklahoman is biased and only reports news to advance its own agenda, but seeing exactly how much control and influence Devon (and other energy companies) have over the actions of an attorney general who is elected to serve and protect the people of Oklahoma is shocking and eye-opening.
Seriously, the Times piles on Pruitt like he's a plate at Golden Corral:
For Mr. Pruitt, the benefits have been clear. Lobbyists and company officials have been notably solicitous, helping him raise his profile as president for two years of the Republican Attorneys General Association, a post he used to help start what he and allies called the Rule of Law campaign, which was intended to push back against Washington.That campaign, in which attorneys general band together to operate like a large national law firm, has been used to back lawsuits and other challenges against the Obama administration on environmental issues, the Affordable Care Act and securities regulation. The most recent target is the president’s executive action on immigration.“We are living in the midst of a constitutional crisis,” Mr. Pruitt told energy industry lobbyists and conservative state legislators at a conference in Dallas in July, after being welcomed with a standing ovation. “The trajectory of our nation is at risk and at stake as we respond to what is going on.”Mr. Pruitt has responded aggressively, and with a lot of helping hands. Energy industry lobbyists drafted letters for him to send to the E.P.A., the Interior Department, the Office of Management and Budget and even President Obama, The Times found.Industries that he regulates have also joined him as plaintiffs in court challenges, a departure from the usual role of the state attorney general, who traditionally sues companies to force compliance with state law...
Remember back when Drew Edmondson was Attorney General and he went after all the Arkansas chicken farms because they were polluting our rivers? Can you imagine Scott Pruitt doing something like that today? The answer is "No." Instead of suing the Arkansas companies to protect the rights of Oklahoma property owners, he'd probably ask the chicken farms to donate to his campaign in exchange for a certain level of protection.
Anyway, as I mentioned, the Times piece is incredibly long, thorough and meticulous, and the sections above about Pruitt and his actions are just the tip of the fracking well. I'd suggest you read it on the New York Times website, and then share it on Facebook. Show some true integrity and let people know who our elected officials really serve.
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