Regulator, Captured: The Stephanie Timmermeyer Story

LittleSis researchers are currently digging into the histories of current government and industry figures in the fracking debate, searching for overlaps, “revolving door” employment patterns, and conflicts of interest. Expect frequent updates from us about people and organizations of interest, and please consider lending a hand by joining the Fracker Watch research group, where you can also find some of the lists we’ve been working on, such as the New York State Fracking Lobbyists list.

Chesapeake lobbyist Stephanie Timmermeyer.
Chesapeake lobbyist Stephanie Timmermeyer.

Today’s post concerns a top lobbyist for the embattled industry giant Chesapeake Energy, Stephanie Timmermeyer, who is the company’s director of regulatory affairs in the Appalachian Basin xand one of nine Chesapeake lobbyists registered in New York State. Chesapeake has spent big to influence policy in New York – according to NYPIRG data referenced in Common Cause’s 2011 report Deep Drilling, Deep Pockets, Chesapeake was the 18th-largest lobbying interest in the state in 2010, with over $1 million in expenditures.

Timmermeyer’s career blurs the line between public service and corporate subservience; she has moved through the revolving door into government and back out again, working as a corporate attorney, then as secretary of West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection, and now as a Chesapeake lobbyist, but never forgetting who she really worked for (hint: not the public). As a regulator, she went soft on industry; as a corporate lobbyist, she leverages her regulatory experience to ease the way for Chesapeake. She is hardly the company’s sole investment in regulatory capture, but her career is a case study in the revolving door and all the skewed incentives that come with it.

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In Latest Sign of Trouble, Chesapeake Energy Hires Lehman Spin Doctor

In the latest sign that massive natural gas fracker Chesapeake Energy is in deep trouble, the company has retained George Sard, the CEO of Sard Verbinnen. Sard was described as a “spinmeister of the apocalypse” by Portfolio magazine in April 2009, because he has worked as a PR consultant for so many high-profile clients in moments of utter, humiliating public collapse.

Chesapeake is in distinguished company. Sard’s clients have included the Madoff brothers (Ponzi scheme), Eliot Spitzer (prostitution), Martha Stewart (insider trading), former Lehman Brothers CEO Dick Fuld (Ponzi scheme), and AIG (Ponzi scheme). His firm was also on the scene during the Enron collapse – JPMorgan hired him to beat back accusations that the bank was complicit in the Enron fraud (it eventually paid $135 million to settle SEC charges).

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