Friday, October 31, 2014

Energy lobbyist in Colorado Springs: 'Win ugly or lose pretty'

Posted By on Fri, Oct 31, 2014 at 11:06 AM

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Yesterday, the New York Times reported on a June meeting held by the Western Energy Alliance at The Broadmoor. (The hotel, of course, is owned by billionaire oil and gas magnate Philip Anschutz, who also owns The Gazette and is considered a prime candidate to buy The Denver Post.)

This particular event was basically an attempt by Washington, D.C. lobbyist Richard Berman to solicit millions of dollars from energy companies to wage "an endless war" against those who oppose methods like fracking.

"Fear and anger have to be part of this campaign," reads a transcript of remarks that were secretly recorded by one executive who was offended at the tactics being advertised. "If you want to win, that's what we're going to do. We're not going to get people to like the oil and gas industry over the next few months. ..."

"What you got to do is get people fearful of what is on the table and then you got to get people angry over the fact that they are being misled," Berman says. "No one likes being lied to. No one likes being told, 'Oh, this won't hurt.' And so, that is central to the messaging campaign going forward."

The campaign is called Big Green Radicals, whose website says it "exists to educate the public about the real agenda of well-funded environmental activist groups." How this is done, explained Berman in June, is, "We list their radical positions. And then we do have a section on every single activist. Their rap sheets, their criminal records that they have.

"We're really making this personal. We're trying to make it so they don't have any credibility with the public, with the media, or with the legislators."

But forget about finding out who's funding the effort, writes the Times
Mr. Berman repeatedly boasted about how he could take checks from the oil and gas industry executives — he said he had already collected six-figure contributions from some of the executives in the room — and then hide their role in funding his campaigns.

“People always ask me one question all the time: ‘How do I know that I won’t be found out as a supporter of what you’re doing?’ ” Mr. Berman told the crowd. “We run all of this stuff through nonprofit organizations that are insulated from having to disclose donors. There is total anonymity. People don’t know who supports us.”
Berman continued with sharp words for Boulder Congressman Jared Polis, who was pushing anti-fracking measures at the state level before pulling out under pressure in August.

"But, Polis is so out of touch with the public, because you have this typical wealthy do-gooder, left-wing activist who has a seat in Congress, who thinks he can dictate policy for everyone else. And we have dug-in really deep on Polis, and you are going to see more stuff coming out."

Earlier in his speech, Berman talked more about his main advertising strategies: repositioning the opposition — so that you tell people, "Oh, you think that this group is a group that does X, well, let me tell you, what they are really doing is Y" — and what he calls taking away people's moral authority.

Explaining, Berman says the latter is "getting people to understand that these people ... in this debate that you are in with today, they weren't appointed to do this, they weren't elected to do this. You might say that 'Polis was elected but he wasn't elected to play the role he is playing today.'

"So we have an unappointed group of people, an unelected group of people, and they are managing public opinion, which in turn could conceivably get the public to vote a certain way or get politicians on another day to vote another certain way."

Writes the Times: "The company executives, Mr. Berman said in his speech, must be willing to exploit emotions like fear, greed and anger and turn them against the environmental groups. And major corporations secretly financing such a campaign should not worry about offending the general public because 'you can either win ugly or lose pretty,' he said."

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