A late Friday story that's sure to be the talk of the political class this weekend–forwarded to us earlier this afternoon, here's a memo that was accidentally sent to every member of the Colorado General Assembly yesterday. From the lobbyist outfit Colorado Legislative Services, LLC, the attachment to the email is supposed to be a new ColoradoBiz Magazine article on compressed natural gas.
Instead, they sent an internal memo prepared for Chesapeake Energy on their legislative agenda in Colorado for the 2013 session. Safe to say, this was not the intended attachment. Excerpts:
The Colorado political landscape is controlled by Democrats. As a moderate Democrat, Governor John Hickenlooper has enjoyed the luxury of having a divided House and Senate to kill the extreme agenda from either side. This year he will have his hands full governing with a Democrat Majority in both the House and Senate. His relationship to the oil & gas industry is strong and he has been a national leader speaking out against the anti-fracturing forces that have invaded Colorado. [Pols emphasis] His administration has sued one Local Government over the issue and will likely join an industry lawsuit over a referendum that banned hydraulic fracturing in that same community…
The Senate numbers remain unchanged. The Democrats are still firmly in charge with a 20 – 15 margin. The Senate President is a moderate but the New Majority Leader is an anti-oil and gas populist. She has aspirations of being Attorney General and possibly Governor and is using the anti-fracturing sentiment to get her wider exposure to the media. [Pols emphasis] The good news is that there are at least three democrats in the Senate that do not want to have a fight over hydraulic fracturing and we have a good chance to sway them on that and other oil and gas issues. On the Republican side, the Minority Leader is a good friend of industry. We have strong supporters in the caucus and they will be able to help spread a pro-industry message. In contrast, the House of Representatives has flipped back to being strongly Democratic with a 37-28 majority. There are 20 new legislators in the House. Many are trying to hold their commitments to the environmentalists to a minimum and wish to do more for the industry. The new Democratic Speaker is a moderate on oil and gas issues and wants to align his position with the Governor wherever possible. The Majority Leader hales from Boulder County, a hot bed of anti-oil and gas sentiment. She is trying to be a moderating influence but has strong proclivities to put local government in control of all oil and gas siting decisions. The new Minority Leader is also a good friend to industry and we also have strong supporters throughout the caucus…
Check out the whole memo here.
Needless to say, the accidental disclosure of the wealth of…if you will, very candid opinion in this memo could make it hard for Chesapeake Energy to successfully carry out its legislative agenda. Also, such an explicit acknowledgement of Gov. John Hickenlooper's "strong relationship" with the oil and gas industry, though hardly a secret, won't help him represent himself as a fair player on the issue. According to Tim Hoover of the Denver paper, who wrote a blog post about this story a short while ago, Jim Cole of Colorado Legislative Services, LLC met today with Senate Majority Leader Morgan Carroll–the so-called "anti-oil and gas populist" who is "using the anti-fracturing sentiment to get her wider exposure to the media"–and apologized profusely. Cole says that Majority Leader Carroll "handled herself in very professional and forthright manner," which is more than can be said for himself.
Folks, obviously, confidential memos are occasionally drawn up by lobbyists that are less than friendly toward some of the legislators they are charged with persuading. But the breach of decorum involved in sending such a memo to every member of the legislature, including the very legislator the memo disparages, falls somewhere between mind-boggling and the intentional destruction of said lobbying firm by a disgruntled employee. It is truly one of the most asinine and unforgivable things a lobbyist, somebody you're paying to make you look good, could possibly do.
See title, if any of their clients know what's good for them.