When George Allen served in Congress, he was a favorite of the oil industry. He was one of the largest recipients of oil industry campaign contributions, and a lead sponsor of efforts to expand offshore oil drilling, including off the east coast. He was even feted by oil billionaire Charles Koch at the 2005 secret planning meeting Koch Industries organizes to coordinate conservative and corporate influence.
Allen left the Senate after losing his reelection bid in 2006, started a lobbying business called “George Allen Strategies,” and joined the board of several companies, including an energy company called the Hillsdale Group. But Allen’s relationship with the oil industry didn’t end there. Given that Allen announced yesterday that he intends to run for Senate again in 2012, it’s worth taking note that of the role that oil and polluter industry fronts have had in propping up Allen:
– In 2009, Allen partnered with the “oil-industry-funded Institute for Energy Research” to found the American Energy Freedom Center, a group dedicated to attacking clean energy reforms. Although Allen’s American Energy Freedom Center does not disclose its donors, the Institute for Energy Research is funded largely with donations from ExxonMobil and Koch Industries. Tom Pyle, Institute for Energy Research President, is a former Koch Industries lobbyist, and the group is made up of former GOP Energy Committee staffers and industry representatives. Allen’s American Energy Freedom Center is registered to the same address as his lobbying firm at 717 Princess Street in Alexandria.
– Allen has given speeches and declared his support for a number of fossil fuel-funded front groups. In 2008, he became a signatory to an energy-related effort organized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is funded by ExxonMobil, foreign oil companies, and Massey Energy. In 2010, he spoke at a global warming denier conference hosted by the Heartland Institute, another front funded by polluters.
– Allen has maintained a political profile by touring Virginia with Americans for Prosperity, a group founded and funded by Koch Industries. In October 2009, Allen did a ten city anti-health reform bus tour with Americans for Prosperity in Virginia. During the midterm election, Allen joined Americans for Prosperity’s “November is Coming” election bus tour promoting Republican candidates. Throughout 2009 and 2010, Allen spoke at Americans for Prosperity-organized Tea Party rallies — often spending much of his time talking about climate science and oil drilling. And throughout this month, Allen toured with Americans for Prosperity to build buzz around his new bid for Senate. Americans for Prosperity’s Virginia director, Ben Marchi, a former aide to Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX), is expected to join the Allen for Senate campaign.
Explaining his lust for offshore drilling, Allen has said, “Americans are not addicted to oil. Americans are addicted to freedom.” While members of the Tea Party movement may debate Allen’s views on freedom, there is no question that Allen is addicted to oil.