White House hires former Keystone lobbyist as Senate liaison

Mon Dec 22, 2014 6:51pm EST
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By Julia Edwards

HONOLULU Dec 22 (Reuters) - The Obama administration's new point person on White House-Senate relations previously worked as a lobbyist to promote the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics.

Marty Paone, formerly a lobbyist with Prime Policy Group, was hired by the White House last week to be the deputy assistant for legislative affairs where he will be responsible for working with the Senate on White House legislative priorities, but he will be excluded from issues related to the pipeline.

The Center for Responsive Politics shows Paone and his firm received $280,000 in 2013 and 2014 from the In Situ Oil Sands Alliance, a group of four companies working to develop oil sands in Alberta, Canada, that would be exported to the United States should Transcanada's Keystone XL pipeline be constructed.

The fate of the pipeline has been in limbo for years, becoming a symbolically important political issue.

Environmental groups claim that stopping the $8 billion pipeline would curb development of Canada's oilsands, reducing climate-changing carbon emissions.

Republicans and unions that represent construction workers say the project would create jobs and is a safer way to move oil than by train.

In January, the Senate - then controlled by Republicans - will take steps to approve the project.

Ethics guidelines prohibit executive agencies from hiring anyone who has lobbied the agency in the past two years, which Paone has done at the Executive Office of the President, said a memorandum by the Counsel to the President.   Continued...