Power lobbyist Tony Podesta (Podesta Group) and legal advisor Jamie Gorelick (WilmerHale), a top Justice Department official in the Clinton administration, are part of the formidable team of Democrat lobbyists running Operation Damage Control for British Petroleum, the Washington Post reported on Monday. Facing one PR crisis after another since the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, BP was struck by yet another gaffe this weekend after CEO Tony Hayward was photographed watching a yacht race along the British coast, displaying a remarkable tone-deafness to the political atmosphere.
BP has spent nearly $20 million on lobbying from January 2009 through March 2010, ranking as one of Washington’s top corporate lobbying clients.
Other key players who were involved in the incident have also increased their efforts to avert the disaster spilling over to them. Jeffrey Turner (Patton Boggs) has been hired by engineering giant Halliburton, which was in charge of cementing the well just before the April 20 explosion, to handle legal and congressional inquiries.
Insiders in the teams representing the embattled companies told the Post that the emphasis of the lobbying push right now is on giving as much information as possible to lawmakers, as opposed to affecting policy changes. According to the sources, the lobbyists’ attitude at this time is ‘deferential,’ in response to lawmakers’ impatience with the oil industry at present.