When government officials bow to lobbyists it’s business as usual, when government officials do the work of the lobbyist, it’s borderline scandalous.
Internal government documents released today show that lobbying in Washington has gotten much easier for auto manufacturers, with government officials doing it for them.
Email correspondence obtained by Rep. Henry Waxman, Chair of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee shows current Bush Administration appointees heading up a lobbying effort against California’s application to implement their own motor vehicle standards.
According to Waxman, the effort was personally directed by the Bush-appointed Secretary of Transportation, Mary Peters, apparently approved by the Chief of Staff in the White House Council on Environmental Quality and coordinated by the auto industry.
One of the political staffers involved in the effort even wrote an email saying: “we are a bit concerned… appears to sound more like lobbying… looking back, I may have said more that [sic] I should have.” Next day, the Chief of Staff for the Transportation Department wrote: “The last e-mail isn’t a good conversation for e-mail.”
In this email exchange, former Transport Deputy Chief of Staff, Peter Gros and Secretary Peters discuss rallying together the auto-friendly politicians:
Peters: “Do I need to touch base with Knollenberg [Republican congressman from Michigan] to coordinate our efforts?”
Gros: “If you’d like but he is very much on point. His staff is also going to ping other members of the automotive caucus for us. My staff this morning called just about every auto-friendly member on this issue.”
Peters: Why don’t you let staff at Knollenberg’s office know that I would be happy to have a discussion with him if he thinks that would be helpful, and let them know that I/we appreciate his efforts.”
In his interview with Oversight Committee staff, Peter Gros confirmed that the lobbying efforts had been approved by Secretary Peters.
Waxman writes in a letter sent to day to the Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, James Connaughton, that, “The federal Clean Air Act provides that California is entitled to a decision on the merits of its application. The involvement of senior Administration officials, including Secretary Peters and your staff, in a behind-the-scenes campaign to lobby against EPA approval sends an unmistakable message: the Administration is trying to stack the deck against California’s efforts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles.”
Copies of the documents are attached to the end of this post.
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