By Ben Geman - 01/12/10 09:53 PM EST
“We think the public deserves at least an inquiry from the Senate Committee on Ethics into the depth of the relationship between Senator Murkowski’s staff and these two lobbyists. The public deserves to know if the situation documented by the Post is acceptable to the Senate,” Greenpeace, through its “PolluterWatch” campaign, states in a letter to Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerDems gain upper hand on budget Overnight Finance: Senate rejects funding bill as shutdown looms | Labor Dept. to probe Wells Fargo | Fed to ease stress test rules for small banks Funding bill rejected as shutdown nears MORE (D-Calif.), chair of the ethics panel.
Capitol Hill staff commonly work with outside groups on legislation, and indeed Murkowski spokesman Robert Dillon brought that up in attacking the Greenpeace letter. “We would equally ask the question of whether Boxer would care to reveal how much of the Boxer-Kerry [climate bill] was written by the environmental lobby,” he said.
Dillon said Murkowski’s staff wrote her amendment and then sought input from a range of parties – including the two lobbyists but also senators from both parties, environmentalists and EPA – as they went through various drafts. “We have been open about this process from the beginning,” he said, calling the ethics probe request a “red herring” aimed at diverting attention from what Murkowski says would be the harms of EPA regulation.