Halliburton's Campaign and Lobbying Activity
By Jim Vallette
18 May 2005
PAC CAMPAIGN DONATIONS
Halliburton’s political donations in the 2004 federal campaign
reflect its corporate imperative to put and keep Republicans in
charge of Washington affairs. The company’s political action
committee (PAC) has shown ongoing Republican bias. The
Halliburton PAC poured $189,000 into Republican campaigns
and just $18,000 into Democrat candidacies. Over the past
four federal election cycles, the Halliburton PAC was sixteen
times more likely to support a Republican than a Democrat.
Halliburton’s institutional allegiance to Republican politicians
is further reflected in individual contributions by its board
members. Over 97 percent—$343,717—of the board members’
donations went toward Republican campaigns, compared
to just $9,810 for Democrats. [See chart 1, chart 2 and chart 3.]
The Republican power sweep in the 2000 elections allowed
Halliburton to pare its costs of lobbying Congress and the
executive branch. Over the final years of the Clinton administration,
Halliburton’s lobbying bill ran at $600,000 annually.
Halliburton cut its lobbying expenses in half—to $300,000 a
year from 2001 through 2003—after Bush and former chief
executive officer Cheney assumed power.
But the growing number of investigations into Halliburton’s
government contracts and overseas activities led to a nearly
three-fold increase in lobbying expenses in 2004. Halliburton
boosted its in-house lobbying program by $100,000 and hired
an outside firm, Covington & Burling, for $560,000, bringing
its total Washington lobbying expenses to a record $960,000.
Covington & Burling lobbied Washington on behalf of KBR’s
Government Operations division, the same division being
pummeled by the media, the Pentagon, and Congress for its
handling of Iraq contracts. Covington & Burling handles
“inquiries concerning [the] company’s construction and service
contracts in Iraq,” KBR reported.
According to company filings, Halliburton lobbyists campaigned
on dozens of issues in 2004, although they discussed
only a select few directly with the White House. One top-priority
issue for Halliburton was an Internal Revenue Service
proposal to remove excise tax exemptions from mobile
machinery, such as drilling rigs.
The remainder of the lobbyists’ discussions with the White
House revolved around barriers, particularly sanctions, to
Halliburton’s overseas business, and getting more government
finance for overseas projects. Halliburton discussed the Alien
Tort Claims Act, a law that holds multinational corporations
accountable for their overseas activities. It also spent a great
deal of money lobbying for programs that finance the company’s
overseas ventures, particularly the U.S. Export-Import
Bank (ExIm) and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation
(OPIC). [See chart 4.]
This has paid off well—in 2004, ExIm approved two loans for
projects in which Halliburton holds contracts—$400 million
for a PEMEX development in Mexico, and $909 million for a
liquefied natural gas project in Qatar.
Cheney’s political priorities as Halliburton’s chief executive
officer, such as efforts to lift sanctions from oil-rich countries,
also remain major components of the company’s current agenda.
Halliburton lobbyists also fought against new proposed
sanctions on companies doing business with terrorist states, a
fight that Cheney himself supported in the late 1990s.
Halliburton’s lobbying efforts also dovetailed with efforts by
the National Petroleum Council (NPC), which the Center for
Public Integrity exposed in 2004 as a front for the oil and gas
industry. “The National Petroleum Council, a little-known federally
chartered but privately funded advisory committee, has
been an underground pipeline of political influence for the oil
and gas industry in Washington for years,” reported the Center
for Public Integrity researcher Kevin Bogardus.
Cheney and many Bush “Pioneers”—the club of superfundraisers
in the 2000 election—crafted a December 1999 NPC report that
“has become a cornerstone of today’s energy policy,” said Bogardus.
Also, through the NPC, Cheney and Halliburton lobbyists tried
to reduce public disclosure of energy company information
held by the government. “As head of the committee, Cheney
pushed hard to convince the federal government to exempt
information it collected from energy companies from the
Freedom of Information Act,” reported Bogardus.
Cheney said at a December 15, 1999, NPC meeting: “We want
to make certain that there’s no infringement with respect to
proprietary information. We’re not interested in collecting
individual company data and publishing anything like that.”
Halliburton’s chief lobbyist, former three-star Army Corps of
Engineers General Chuck Dominy, continued to raise this
issue after Cheney became the country’s vice president.
“Clearly, [the] Freedom of Information issues have got to be
addressed, and there’s got to be absolute protection for the
private sector as we go forward with this,” Dominy said at a
May 2001 meeting.
OTHER ADVANTAGEOUS RELATIONSHIPS
In early 2004, facing an SEC investigation into allegedly corrupt
Cheney-era payments in Nigeria, Halliburton said it hired
an unnamed lawyer to conduct an internal review. Yet, a corporate
crime investigator recently revealed that this “independent
investigator” was in fact closely tied to the White House.
He was a former SEC general counsel and Bush family lawyer,
James Doty. The lead partner of Baker Botts—the law firm that
helped to deliver Florida to the Bush campaign in 2000—Doty
also represented Bush when he bought a share of the Texas
Rangers in the late nineties. Before that, he was general counsel
to the SEC at a time when the commission investigated
Bush’s insider trading at Harken Oil.
In 2005, Halliburton’s KBR subsidiary invited Joe Allbaugh
onto its team of advisors. It turns out, Allbaugh was an even
closer Bush associate. He managed Bush’s first rise to political
power in the 1994 Texas governor’s race, then worked as his
chief of staff, and finally became director of the Federal
Emergency Management Agency, where he remained until
March 2003. In 2005, KBR hired Allbaugh and his wife, Diane, on