Newt Gingrich, through his political attack group “American Solutions for Winning the Future” (ASWF), has organized tea party protests, conservative legislative efforts, and is best known for driving the Republican “Drill Here, Drill Now” campaign in 2008. Until now, the only known financial backers of ASWF were the donors disclosed on his 527 IRS forms, like Peabody Coal and investor Rex Sinquefield. Gingrich — who once believed in climate change science and believed the U.S. must act “urgently” to reduce carbon emissions — has moved far to the right on environmental issues, and has allied himself with polluters fighting tooth and nail against clean energy reform.
While his support from King Coal is widely known, new revelations reveal that Gingrich has established direct support from the oil lobby. The American Petroleum Institute (API) is the umbrella trade association for the oil industry, lobbying on behalf of corporations like ExxonMobil and Chevron, as well as for refineries and pipeline companies. In addition to spending millions on political lobbying, API has blanketed the country with pro-oil drilling ads and has coordinated “grassroots” rallies to oppose clean energy reform.
At CPAC — which was sponsored in part by API — ThinkProgress spoke to API representative André Carter at his organization’s booth at the convention. Carter is an account executive at Edelman, the K Street public relations firm that manages API. Carter told ThinkProgress that API has been “sharing resources, coordinating efforts” with Gingrich’s ASWF group for some time. When contacted for comment, API spokesman Bill Bush disputed that API was “working in any way” with Gingrich.
ASWF spokesman R.C. Hammond also denied Carter’s comments, telling ThinkProgress that “there’s no record of us working together.” But ThinkProgress interviewed Gingrich yesterday at an event he was hosting at the press club, where he told us that indeed he has been working with API since the “Drill Here, Drill Now” campaign:
TP: But do you know how long you guys have been working with API? I’m trying to chart it.
GINGRICH: I have no idea. I think it came after the Drill Here, Drill Now campaign.
Gingrich postures as a man dedicated to simply serving the “key concerns of the American People.” But through ASWF, his constant strategy sessions with GOP lawmakers, and his ubiquitous punditry, Gingrich is actually advancing the narrow interests of corporations, in this case the oil industry. Given API’s attempt to conceal its relationship with ASWF, the oil industry understands they need ostensibly independent ambassadors like Gingrich to build public support for their policies.
As the Wonk Room has detailed, GOP politicians fighting reform have relied heavily on corporate lobbyists to orchestrate their efforts. Gingrich touts himself as an author, a “futurist,” a conservative thinker. Anything but a lobbyist. Considering the fact Gingrich lobbies lawmakers on policy, and does so in concert with industry that would benefit from his lobbying, in many ways Gingrich is essentially an unregistered lobbyist.
Jane Van Ryan, a senior communication manager at API, disputed the accuracy of our post. She e-mailed ThinkProgress the following statement tonight: “API does not have, and has never had, a relationship with Newt Gingrich’s group. We do not share resources or coordinate efforts.”