According to a Washington Post report, troubled oil company BP was approached by a pro-energy watchdog advocacy non-profit for a donation to support a media campaign. The company respectfully declined – and suddenly became one of the watchdog’s targets.
According to WaPo, the Institute for Energy Research was the watchdog in question. Some time after BP’s turndown, and after the Gulf Coast oil spill, BP was attacked as “a safety outlier” in a campaign trying to shield other energy companies from criticism based on BP’s bad behavior.
Those familiar with the BP/IER talks thought the whole situation looked like “a shakedown,” but IER insists that it is running the criticism of BP is in a completely separate campaign, and was in no way retaliation for BP’s earlier lack of financial support.
Instead, IER says its motives in the second campaign are pure – it simply does not want the entire energy industry to pay for BP’s mistakes.
WaPo called it another story in the “murky world of advocacy-for-hire in Washington,” where the non-profit nature of opinion-molding groups is easily to hide both donors and motives.