Senator Frank Lautenberg is NOT happy with some responses released today from the big five oil execs, to questions from Senators Pete Domenici and Jeff Bingaman. It seems that “Five oil industry executives acknowledged frequent company contacts with government officials to discuss energy issues but insisted they had responded truthfully at a recent Senate hearing when they denied participating in Vice President Dick Cheney’s 2001 energy task force.”
“Lautenberg called the executives’ clarifications “corporate doublespeak that only further demonstrates the need for a criminal investigation” of their Nov. 9 testimony. He said he planned to discuss the issue further with Justice Department officials on Thursday.”
The exchange at the Nov. 9 hearing prompted accusations by some Democratic senators that several of the executives may have knowingly misled Congress. A report published a few days later found that White House logs showed representatives of some of the companies had visited energy task force officials.
New Mexico Sens. Pete Domenici, chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Jeff Bingaman, its ranking Democrat, asked the executives to clarify any discrepancies.
The senators released the executives’ written responses on Wednesday.
John Hofmeister, chairman of Shell Oil Co., said Shell representatives did not meet with the task force but added, “Shell representatives did meet with the administration — including the vice president and his staff — on a broad range of energy policy issues.”
Exxon Mobil Corp. said its chairman, Lee Raymond, responded accurately when he said no one at the company participated in a task force meeting — as the question was phrased by Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.
In its letter, however, Exxon Mobil confirmed that company officials met with a Bush administration official for 45 minutes on Feb. 14, 2001, to discuss the “global energy supply and demand situation.” On the same day, the company said, the same information was given to members of Congress and others. The Cheney task force issued its report on energy priorities in May 2001.
Last week Frank Lautenberg said, “Republicans are trying to split legal hairs to protect Big Oil. The American people understand what ‘participate’ means. What they don’t understand is why the Republicans are still trying to cover up for these Big Oil companies.”
Lautenberg’s report: GOP Effort to Sheild Oil CEOs Is Wrong on Facts, Wrong on Law, can be found here.
UPDATE: More on this from the WaPo.