Chair Grijalva, Rep. Porter Send Second Request Letter to Fossil Fuel Public Relations Firm FTI Consulting, Threaten Subpoena

Washington, D.C. – Washington, D.C. – Natural Resources Committee Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chair Katie Porter (D-Calif.) today sent a second letter to oil and gas public relations (PR) firm FTI Consulting requesting any of the firm’s PR work, marketing, or influence campaigns for oil, gas, and coal companies and trade groups. The lawmakers sent the first request letter to FTI Consulting in June, more than eight weeks ago, along with four other public relations firms and the American Petroleum Institute, a fossil fuel trade group. Despite ample good-faith efforts by Committee staff to accommodate FTI Consulting’s concerns in providing documents, the firm has not yet turned over any documents, or even basic information about their fossil fuel clients, to the Committee.

Chair Grijalva and Rep. Porter’s full letter is available here: https://bit.ly/3PxDcEG 

As the lawmakers describe in the letter, FTI Consulting has obstructed, delayed, and been otherwise uncooperative in the Committee’s legitimate oversight efforts. The firm has asserted that their clients’ information is protected by various privileges or confidentiality agreements, but has refused to adequately describe or enumerate these exact privileges. They also claim that many of these yet-unnamed clients refused to consent to disclosure. 

…more than six weeks after the initial consultation with Committee staff, FTI represented that “50 percent” of an undisclosed number of unnamed clients had responded and refused to consent to disclosure. FTI again asserted that the basis for withholding was confidentiality agreements with the clients, with some smaller (and undescribed) subset also ostensibly covered by attorney-client privilege. FTI also again claimed to have collected all relevant contracts but continued to refuse to provide even the total number of responsive clients or any of their identities.

Of note, confidentiality concerns are a consideration in congressional oversight efforts, but do not preclude Congress from receiving requested documents. Chair Grijalva and Rep. Porter indicated in the letter that they will begin the process of issuing a subpoena if FTI Consulting does not provide the requested documents by Aug. 24 at 5:00 p.m.

In November 2020, extensive investigative reporting by The New York Timesuncovered a host of nefarious fossil fuel public campaign efforts funded by FTI Consulting, including creating fake grassroots activist groups advocating for “mom-and-pop investors, fabricating social media personas to monitor environmental activists, and staffing news sites to publish more pro-industry, and even industry-directed, content.

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