Berman and Company, Washington, DC public affairs firm owned by lobbyist Rick Berman, represents the tobacco industry as well as hotels, beer distributors, restaurant chains, and fossil fuel companies.
On October 30, 2014, the New York Times broke the news that a speech Rick Berman had given to oil and gas executives at an event sponsored by the Western Energy Alliance in Colorado Springs in June 2014. The speech had been secretly recorded. Berman told those gathered that “if the oil and gas industry wants to prevent its opponents from slowing its efforts to drill in more places, it must be prepared to employ tactics like digging up embarrassing tidbits about environmentalists and liberal celebrities.”
Attendees included representatives from oil and gas companies such as Anadarko Petroleum, Devon Energy, ExxonMobil, Halliburton Company, and Noble Energy.
Berman told the executives they “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. ‘Think of this as an endless war,’ Mr. Berman told the crowd… ‘And you have to budget for it,'” according to the Times.
Bloomberg also reported on the leaked audio, noting that “Berman offered companies a way to anonymously target their environmental foes — at a cost of as much as $3 million.”
Berman had flown to Colorado with Jack Hubbard, a vice president at Berman and Company, to discuss their newest public relations campaign, Big Green Radicals, which has already placed a series of intentionally controversial advertisements in Pennsylvania and Colorado regarding the fracking debates.
Then in early 2015, The Guardian reported one of Berman’s front groups, the Employment Policies Institute, funded a series of reports by the Beacon Hill Institute attacking President Obama’s Clean Power Plan. The reports have been released in partnership with industry-funded state think tanks with ties to the Koch brothers and other fossil fuel special interest groups, and pitched to advance the agenda of model legislation from the fossil fuel-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
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