Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
Double-dipping is a “no go” in the real world of eating chips and salsa with a circle of friends but an everyday reality in the world of lobbyists and PR professionals.
Enter double-dipper Anita Dunn, former White House Communications Director for President Barack Obama who now runs the firm SKDKnickerbocker (Squier Knapp Dunn), a firm that ”brings unparalleled strategic communications experience to Fortune 500 companies, political groups and candidates, non-profits, and labor organizations.”
Dip one: TransCanada Corporation, which SKDK does public relations work for, as revealed in an Oct. 2012 New York Times investigation. TransCanada is the multinational corporation currently building the contentious southern half of theKeystone XL (KXL) tar sands pipeline, following the dictates of a March 2012 Obama Administration Executive Order. Within months, the fate of the border-crossing Alberta to Port Arthur, TX KXL export pipeline will also likely be decided by the U.S. State Department.
Dip two: Another SKDKnickerbocker client is the Association of American Railroads (AAR), the American Petroleum Institute trade association equivalent for the freight rail industry. Even without KXL – as covered previously on DeSmogBlog -tar sands crude can be moved to targeted markets via freight rail (coupled with pipeline capacity increases of other tubes and potential barging along Lake Superior).
Beneficiaries of tar sands transport via rail include AAR dues-paying member Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF), owned by major Obama donor Warren Buffett via his holding company, Berkshire Hathaway. Shell Oil – a major Alberta tar sands extractor - also pays AAR member dues, which indicates Big Oil understands the strategic importance of rail transport.
Dunn’s firm, in short, stands to gain from tar sands extraction with or without a KXL northern half, a classic case of double-dipping.
Keystone XL: Dunn’s Obama/Kerry Connections Portend a Dunn and Done Scenario
Dunn has maximized her White House insider access status since leaving the Administration in 2009 and starting SKDK.
“Dunn regularly attends closed-door political strategy briefings with top Obama aides; White House records show she has visited more than 100 times since leaving her communications job,” the Oct. 2012 New York Times piece explained. “She is now serving as a paid adviser to the Democratic National Committee.”
Dunn’s husband Robert “Bob” Bauer also maintains extremely close ties to the Obama Administration, serving as Obama’s personal and political attorney.
“Bauer also will play that role for Obama’s new political network, Organizing for America, and the Democratic National Committee, which is administering the network,” explained a Feb. 2009 article in Politico, “Bauer’s new, unmatched legal power.”
In Nov. 2009, Obama named Bauer White House Counsel, a job he left in June 2011 to return to his private practice at Perkins Coie, “focusing on serving as general counsel to the President’s reelection campaign, general counsel to the Democratic National Committee and personal lawyer to President Obama,” according to the Perkins Coie website.
SKDK’s Bill Knapp, described by the New York Observer‘s Ben Smith (now Editor-in-Chief of BuzzFeed) as “one of the Democratic Party’s most sought-after operatives” helped develop the media strategy and advertising” for Kerry for President 2004 that culminated with a defeat to George W. Bush, while Bauer worked as legal Counsel for Kerry’s campaign. Furthermore, Dunn served as Communications Director from 1987-1990 for then-U.S. Sen. Kerry. The Kerry-lead State Department has the final say on whether the KXL north proposal becomes a reality.
As icing on the cake, numerous TransCanada lobbyists have passed through the government-industry revolving door, entering both executive-level agencies and President Obama’s inner-circle.
Brandon Pollak, served as Deputy National Director of Grassroots Fundraising for the Kerry for President 2004 campaign. Broderick Johnson went from lobbying for TransCanada to becoming Obama’s senior campaign advisor for his 2012 race against Republican Mitt Romney.
With all of these lobbyists using their ties to the White House and State Department, it looks as if the KXL decision is already a checkmate, Dunn and done scenario.
If KXL Fails, There’s Always Rail, Barge, Increased Pipeline Capacity Supplements