December 6, 2014 | The New York Times | Eric Lipton
In an investigation entailing the review of thousands of emails and court documents, and dozens of interviews, the New York Times found that in at least 12 states, attorneys general are susceptible to corporate interests, including energy companies. In many cases, those same companies are providing the officials with significant political campaign donations. This unprecedented cooperation, fueled by strategic interventions by lobbyists and the companies’ lawyers, is thought to be ramping up in a coordinated attempt to fight back against President Obama’s environmental agenda. A case study of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt illustrates the ways in which this brand of entanglement threatens the integrity of public office.
Inside Energy has also found degrees of coziness between public officials and the energy industry — particularly in North Dakota. With the explosion of oil and gas production in the Bakken, corporate interests transformed the political landscape during the recent 2014 election cycle. Oil money has contributed to each of the three industry regulators’ past election campaigns in North Dakota, and state senators and representatives have used it to defeat their opponents, making it clear that energy money plays a huge role in all kinds of politics.