BP has deep lobbying connections to help on spill 

With millions of dollars invested in campaign donations and an all-star lobbying team, BP executives could give an advanced class in how to build influence in Washington. But with millions of gallons of leaking oil bearing down on Gulf Coast beaches and bayous, they could also teach how to lose it.

Among its many lobbying and public relations efforts , BP is working with the Brunswick Group, an international communications and crisis management firm, to craft its public response to the spill. Brunswick's Washington office employs political and congressional veterans including Hilary Rosen, a former Democratic congressional aide; Anthony Coley and David Sutphen, former aides to the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.; and Michele Davis, a former Treasury Department official under President George W. Bush and GOP congressional aide.

BP's Washington lobbyists include well-connected people from both major parties, some of them visitors to the White House.

Lobbyist Tony Podesta is a prolific Democratic fundraiser and brother to John Podesta, who headed Obama's transition team. Tony Podesta appears at least seven times in visitor logs released by the Obama White House. Six of Podesta's visits were on behalf of clients, but he and his firm said none was BP-related.

The White House confirmed that BP lobbyists have been to the White House complex, but said only two visits were BP-related: Two of the oil company's in-house lobbyists, Karen St. John and Michael Brien, attended 2009 meetings on Environmental Protection Agency standards, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

BP declined to talk about its lobbying efforts or comment on White House visits.

Other BP lobbyists from lobbying firms include Jim Turner, a former House Democrat from Texas now with the Arnold & Porter firm; Ken Duberstein, a former White House chief of staff under President Reagan whose lobbying firm employs several former top Democratic and Republican congressional aides; Michelle Laxalt, a Republican with ties to GOP lawmakers; and Michael Berman, president of the Duberstein firm and a former Democratic Senate aide and party adviser.

BP has many other Washington connections:

_BP has had several Washington insiders on a company advisory council, including former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle, who served on Obama's transition team on health care and was his original pick for health and human services secretary; former Republican Sen. Warren Rudman; former New Jersey governor and former EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman; former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta; and former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo.

_The company counts current and former employees on at least three federal advisory panels: NASA's Aerospace Advisory Panel, the National Petroleum Council, and the Energy Department's Unconventional Resources Technology Advisory Committee.

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Timothy P. Carney

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