American Energy Alliance

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This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.

The American Energy Alliance (AEA) describes itself as "the independent grassroots affiliate of the Institute for Energy Research (IER). AEA’s mission is to enlist and empower energy consumers to encourage policymakers to support free market policies. These policies lead to abundant, affordable, and reliable energy for all Americans."[1] It was founded in 2008 by Thomas Pyle, who previously lobbied on behalf of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association and Koch Industries and who previously worked for Congressman Tom Delay (R-TX), when Delay served as Whip and before Delay, as House Majority Leader, stepped down from the U.S. House of Representatives under an ethical cloud.

Koch Wiki

The Koch brothers -- David and Charles -- are the right-wing billionaire co-owners of Koch Industries. As two of the richest people in the world, they are key funders of the right-wing infrastructure, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the State Policy Network (SPN). In SourceWatch, key articles on the Kochs include: Koch Brothers, Koch Industries, Americans for Prosperity, American Encore, and Freedom Partners.

Political Activity

2014 Election

AEA aired this ad against Senator Mark Udall in May 2014

AEA spent over $400,000 in May 2014 on television ads attacking Senator Mark Udall, accusing him of opposing construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline.[2]

Denial of Political Activity

As reported by The Center for Public Integrity, in its 2012 Form 990 filing with the IRS, AEA claimed it did not "engage in direct or indirect political campaign activities on behalf of or in opposition to candidates for public office" and that it was a "nonpartisan policy-oriented organization," not a "‘political’ organization."[3] Marcus Owens, an attorney who previously headed the IRS’ tax-exempt division, said the American Energy Alliance’s new filing "certainly raises a red flag."

Funding

Since 2008, AEA has been established as a 501c4 non profit group, whose focus is lobbying, but it does not disclose who its funders are.[4] In its 2012 IRS 990 filing, AEA reported contributions and grants of $7,324,959 and expenses of $7,014,968, along with assets of $1,780,199.[5]

AEA's allied organization, the Institute for Energy Research, is also led by Thomas Pyle.[6] IER received $95,000 from ExxonMobil in 2007 and $65,000 the year before, but the organization has said that ExxonMobil is no longer a funder.[7] IER has also received donations from the Brown Foundation, which was started by the founders of the construction and energy company Brown & Root; the Searle Freedom Trust, funded by the late conservative philanthropist Daniel Searle; and the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, which is run by executives of Koch Industries, a major company in the petroleum refining industry and one of the main funders of Americans for Prosperity.[8] IER has been active in questioning global warming, suggesting that Al Gore and others are "climate alarmists," and acting as a climate skeptic while defending climate deniers.[9]

AEA shares the same address as IER in Washington, DC. IER also has an office in Houston, Texas, which is listed as 1415 S. Voss Rd., Suite 110-287, Houston, Texas 77057, Phone: (713) 974-1918, which is the same address as the UPS store for postal boxes.[10]

Ties to the Koch Brothers

AEA has received millions from groups linked to the Koch brothers, including grants of $1.5 million in 2012 from Freedom Partners and $250,000 in 2010 from American Encore. According to NPR, Wayne Gable, who lobbied for Koch Industries along with Pyle, is on the board of both IER and AEA.[11] Pyle reportedly attends the Koch network conferences for conservative donors and activists.[12]

History

AEA was incorporated in 2008. It has the same name as a group that was founded in 1993 to defeat a Btu tax;[13] however, the new AEA is a completely distinct corporate entity from the prior AEA, which is apparently defunct. The new and separate organization called "AEA" is not focused on Btu taxes but instead is focused on cap and trade and drilling issues primarily. While the confusion caused by sharing the same name is understandable, the organizations are not the same.

The other, unrelated, AEA was the subject of controversy back in June 1993 after Time magazine reported that the National Manufacturers Association "got together with the American Petroleum Institute, 1,600 large companies, small businesses and farmers to form the American Energy Alliance (AEA), a group designed solely to defeat the BTU tax. The coalition paid more than $1 million to Burson-Marsteller, a public relations firm, to deploy nearly 45 staff members in 23 states during the past two months. Burson's goal was to drum up as much grass-roots outrage about the BTU tax as possible and direct it at the swing Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee..."[14]

Controversy

Obama and gas prices

In March 2012, American Energy Alliance launched a $3.6 million ad campaign in eight states, tying Obama's decision on the Keystone XL pipeline to higher gas prices, and recycling a 2008 quote from Energy Secretary Steven Chu about the benefits of European-level gas prices.[15]

Udall and drilling

In July 2008, the current entity called AEA sponsored radio advertisements in New Mexico, attacking congressman Tom Udall, who is now a U.S Senator, for his opposition to oil drilling. The New Mexico Independent noted that "Information on the group is hard to come by. There are no online Federal Energy Regulatory Commission filings, no Internal Revenue Service filings and no way to contact the group."[16] The group has a new address, however, which is provided below. (AEA also ran ads against Udall's cousin, Mark Udall, who is now a U.S. Senator representing Colorado.)

Leadership

Board of Directors

Staff[17]

Contact Information

American Energy Alliance
1100 H Street, NW
Suite 400
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: 202.621.2940
Email: info AT energydc.org Website: American Energy Alliance

Articles & Resources

References

  1. American Energy Alliance, "Mission Statement," organization website, accessed May 15, 2014.
  2. Laura Barron-Lopez, "Ad targets Sen. Udall as anti-Keystone pipeline," The Hill, May 14, 2014.
  3. Michael Beckel, "Anti-Obama nonprofit tells IRS it's not 'political'," Center for Public Integrity, November 18, 2013.
  4. "Funding", American Energy Alliance website, accessed October 2008.
  5. GuideStar, "2012 IRS 990," organization website, accessed May 15, 2014.
  6. Will Evans, "New Group Tied To Oil Industry Runs Ads Promoting Drilling, Attacking Democrat", NPR, September 22, 2008.
  7. Id.
  8. Id.
  9. E.g., Robert L. Bradley, Jr., "Global Warming Policy Perils," Washington Times, Jan. 16, 2007, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2007/jan/16/20070116-085702-9753r/.
  10. http://www.merchantcircle.com/business/The.UPS.Store.Houston.TX.713-952-5332
  11. Id.
  12. Kenneth Vogel, "Kochs linked to $3.6M anti-Obama gas price ad campaign," Politico, March 29, 2012.
  13. Michael Duffy (June 21, 1993). "I Hear You, I Hear You", Time. Retrieved on August 1, 2008. 
  14. Id.
  15. Kenneth Vogel, "Kochs linked to $3.6M anti-Obama gas price ad campaign," Politico, March 29, 2012.
  16. Matthew Reichbach (July 23, 2008). "Ad Watch: Pro-drilling group airs ads against Udall", New Mexico Independent. Retrieved on August 1, 2008. 
  17. America Energy Alliance, "Staff," organization website, accessed May 15, 2014.