This pains me almost as much as Mary Landrieu. I never worked for Dick but he was always good on so many issues. C’est la vie…sigh
Dick Gephardt’s Spectacular Sellout
September 30, 2009
In March, months after the government gave an unprecedented $85 billion to AIG, the insurance giant released a list of counterparties, exposing some of the world’s top financial institutions as the real recipients of the bailout. First among its peers, Goldman Sachs got a whopping $12.9 billion, despite having claimed in September to be insulated from AIG’s troubles. Based on these revelations, Maryland Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings, who had dogged the financial industry since the crisis began, told his staff to prepare a letter calling for an investigation.
Two Congressional staffers familiar with the matter told The Nation that a draft was circulated to House members on March 23. Within hours, Cummings’s office had received a phone call from a lobbying firm hired by Goldman Sachs, making an “insistent but polite” request for a meeting. Cummings, intending to send the letter regardless, granted the audience, and so it was that top Goldman executives like president Gary Cohn and CFO David Viniar arrived the next day. They brought someone else too, a big-name Democratic politician with serious populist credibility: Dick Gephardt.
But the real issue here is pollution.
The Arm Twister
CEO, Gephardt Group
The former House majority leader now uses his considerable political clout as a lobbyist for Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private-sector coal company. Working behind the scenes on Capitol Hill, Gephardt has emerged as the most credible proponent of “clean coal” — an imaginary technology being touted by the industry as an alternative to limits on carbon pollution. (“Clean coal is like healthy cigarettes,” says Al Gore. “It does not exist.”) In July, Gephardt was the keynote speaker at the Clean Coal Technology Conference, an honor bestowed after he helped win $1 billion in stimulus funding for FutureGen, a “clean coal” boondoggle promoted by Peabody. That’s a significant return on the $1.7 million that Peabody and the FutureGen Industrial Alliance have invested in Gephardt Group’s services since 2007. His firm also lobbies for Ameren, the nation’s fourth-dirtiest utility, as well as for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The head of Peabody’s Washington office, Fred Palmer, marvels at the access the ex-congressman still enjoys on Capitol Hill: “I can meet with a lot of people, but I’m Fred Palmer. He’s Dick Gephardt.”
So to Dick we must say – Smoke gets in our eyes: