Last week, national members of the GOP issued a report using taxpayer money, attacking Bold Nebraska. We are in the ring with our gloves on so we expect (and welcome) criticism from the other side of the Keystone XL pipeline issue. What we did not expect and think is outrageous is for Sen. Fischer and her GOP colleagues on the EPW Committee to have their staff write a political hit job of a report.
In times like this, as advocates we can either be mad, retreat or fight back. We choose to fight back. We stand proud of our work and the countless hours each of you spend driving to events, attending county level board meetings asking for common sense regulations, and the occasional sharing of beer with each other to just visit.
ACTION: If you have time to visit with Sen. Fischer during the August Recess, I encourage you to ask her why she would allow such a report to go out when she has seen us at hearings and knows first-hand the work we do in our state. If taking money from “out of state” people suddenly makes you a “fake group” then I guess we need to start calling Sen. Fischer a “fake Senator” since the same week she issued this political hit job of a report she also attended an ExxonMobil PAC fundraising event and she has taken over $186,000 in fossil fuel money since 2012.
Here is the email I sent to the GOP staff who wrote the report.
From: Jane Kleeb <email@example.com>
Subject: visit Nebraska to see for yourself
Date: August 5, 2014 2:45:25 PM CDT
To: Luke_Bolar@epw.senate.gov, Cheyenne_Steel@epw.senate.gov
Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org, Nathan_mccray@epw.senate.gov, Elana Schor <email@example.com>, Andrew Restuccia <ARestuccia@politico.com>, Joseph Morton <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Deena Winter <email@example.com>, Nick Bergin <NBergin@journalstar.com>, Colin Murphy <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Greg Awtry <email@example.com>, Joe Duggan <Joe.Duggan@owh.com>, Steve White <firstname.lastname@example.org>,email@example.com
Hello Luke and Cheyenne,
I left a voice mail for you Luke but have not heard back, so I figured I would send an email.
We would like to extend an invitation to you to come visit Nebraska and see for yourself the work Bold Nebraska does with landowners on the ground. We not only help with property rights, but also local zoning, education about what bills might be up at the state level, hearing process, etc. We also do a lot of work connecting landowners in other states to share stories on patterns of bad behavior and tactics pipeline companies or industry groups use at the local level.
We would be happy to give you a tour of a clean energy barn we built and host a roundtable with landowners and citizens.
And, we of course have lots of connections for local beef and beer so we will make sure you are fed well while you come visit.
While I understand the political nature of your report was an easy throw to individuals and corporations who support fossil fuels and who are against common sense measures to combat climate change and protect our water and property rights, it was a huge waste of taxpayer money and an attempt to distract from the real issue–we have a foreign corporation that is using eminent domain against American landowners for a project that is mainly for export while risking our drinking water and Ag land.
If all of those items were tagged to a “green” energy project, you would be standing with me to protest. Or at least I hope you would be…
Bold Nebraska started as a state-based group and we remain a state-based group that is proud of our ability to raise money from small and large donors. We have individuals who donate $20 and those that donate $2,000, we have families who lose loves ones and set up funds for them to support our work and yes we got a grant from the Tides Foundation to support our work.
Although we are not as flush with cash as you suggest in your political report, we thank you for the compliment of being so much of a threat that you have to write a report about and then have industry-backed groups use for their own political purposes (like the US Chamber https://www.uschamber.com/blog/how-foundation-influences-anti-keystone-xl-group).
This is now the second time Republicans in Congress have, to use your word, “colluded” against me personally and Bold Nebraska. Rep. Terry’s committee during a hearing about the pipeline asked over the top personal questions and hyper-political questions in a setting paid for by taxpayers. This type of behavior is troubling and gives credence to why so many Americans have lost faith in Congress.
-I cced the only email I could find for your former colleague Matt Dempsey who I know wrote some reports/did work with you before and since he now works for a pro-tarsands industry group has been active on twitter regarding this report. Matt you are more than welcome to come visit us also.
-I cced Sen. Fischer COS staff since Fischer is part of the committee that released the report and has actually seen “real-live supporters” of Bold at hearings when she was a state senator and should have known better than to call us a fake grassroots group.
-I cced Nathan with the Majority staff on the EPW committee so he is aware of my email invitation and questions to you.
-I cced reporters who have written about this report or who cover our state and the pipeline.
Since we can’t FOIA your emails (too bad that is not allowed since we pay your salary) to know how or why this report was written, perhaps if you stand proud about your report you will simply answer my questions:
-Do you have a plan to do a similar report of all the groups working on behalf of fossil fuels and who actively run ads supporting the KXL pipeline like Oilsands Fact Check, Nebraskans for Jobs, AFP, API, Platte Institute, etc? If so, when? If not, why not?
-How much time did you spend and how much of our taxpayer money was spent on this report?
-Who asked for this report? Can you supply a copy of the request?
-What groups did you consult with for information in the report?
-What members of Congress did you consult about the report?
-Did you send the report directly to any lobbyists or pacs and if so who?