By Laura Barron-Lopez - 10/31/14 09:25 AM EDT
A veteran political lobbyist told the oil and gas industry that, if it wants to continually expand drilling operations, it must be ready to “win ugly or lose pretty,” according to a secretly taped recording of the comments.
Consultant Richard Berman, founder and CEO of the Washington-based firm Berman and Co., made the comments during a speech to industry executives in June, The New York Times reports.
In it, he says executives must be willing to get dirty and dig up embarrassing information about environmentalists and liberal celebrities.
He added that the industry will need to play on emotions of fear and anger, and set it loose on green groups.
“Think of this as an endless war,” Berman said at the June event in Colorado Springs, Colo. “And you have to budget for it.”
Western Energy Alliance, whose members include Devon Energy, Halliburton and Anadarko Petroleum, sponsored the June event.
One energy executive took issue with Berman’s comments, however, and secretly recorded the speech, which he then gave to the Times.
“That you have to play dirty to win,” said the executive, who provided the recording to the Times under a condition of anonymity. “It just left a bad taste in my mouth.”
A spokeswoman confirmed Berman gave the speech, the Times reported, but provided no comment.
Berman goes on in the speech to advise the executives on how to handle labor unions or animal rights groups.
“I get up every morning, and I try to figure out how to screw with the labor unions — that’s my offense,” he said. “I am just trying to figure out how I am going to reduce their brand.”
To get videos against a labor union, or green group to go viral, Berman said, just have kids or animals in it.
“Use humor to minimize or marginalize the people on the other side,” he said.
And if the oil and gas executives solicit help from Berman’s firm, he said he would be able to hide their role in funding certain campaigns.
Some in the room at the June event had cut him six-figure checks already.
“People always ask me one question all the time: ‘How do I know that I won’t be found out as a supporter of what you’re doing?' " Berman said. “We run all of this stuff through nonprofit organizations that are insulated from having to disclose donors. There is total anonymity. People don’t know who supports us.”
Berman’s Washington firm recently launched a public relations campaign in Pennsylvania and Colorado, called Big Green Radicals. It’s meant to counter and degrade the environmentalists push against fracking in those states.