Blanche Lincoln’s support for a measure to block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating planet-warming gases has put her at the top the list of electoral targets of environmental groups this year. They’ve highlighted Lincoln’s ties to big polluters—she’s been the top recipient of oil and gas money in the Senate since 2005. And her current and former staffers are also closely tied to polluting interests, as Paul Blumenthal highlights over at the Sunlight Foundation.
As Blumenthal points out, at least six of Lincoln’s former staffers currently lobby for major players in the climate debate, including trade groups for the oil and gas industry, agricultural interests, the airplane industry and biofuels. They include Kelly Bingel, Lincoln’s former chief of staff and now a lobbyist for Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti, which represents the American Petroleum Institute and Koch Industries, one of the country’s largest oil manufacturing, trading and investment companies. Both API and Koch have opposed efforts to address climate change—with API orchestrating astroturf “Energy Citizen” rallies, while Koch has funded major conservative groups like FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity. Ben Noble, another former staffer, lobbies for a number of agricultural interests opposed to climate legislation, including the USA Rice Federation.
The door to Lincoln’s office also spins the other direction, something not noted in the Sunlight post. In December she hired Julie Anna Potts to serve as her chief counsel for the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, which Lincoln chairs. Potts most recently served as general counsel for the American Farm Bureau Federation. The farm lobby in general and AFB in particular have vehemently opposed climate legislation—going so far as to deny that emissions are even a problem.
Lincoln has made it plain that she doesn’t intend to vote for climate legislation anytime soon—she even touted her opposition last week in her first TV ad for the primary. Cap and trade, she has said, is a “complete non-starter.”