Image: saebaryo via flickr
Barely two weeks after New York Governor Cuomo announced an end to the moratorium on fracking in the state, reports are coming out about his live-in girlfriend having potential ties to the petroleum industry—but because they're not married, she's exempt from the state law that requires elected officials to report their spouses' jobs and income over $1,000. It's unclear what her exact relationship is with the industry, but it seems there's something to hide because as Food & Water Watch points out, a blog about her guest appearance at a "conference of petroleum executives" was apparently changed to describe "corporate" executives instead.
In a letter to the governor, Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter writes:
We believe it's time the Cuomo administration take steps to ensure transparency in regard to its dealings with this industry, especially since the entire nation is watching to see what New York state will do regarding natural gas fracking.
Private Interests Over Public Safety
A Wall Street Journal story that cites other potential conflicts of interest, including Lee's work with the pharmaceutical and beverage industries, says that she earns fees of about $40,000 for speaking engagements and that: "In late March, she appeared as a celebrity entertainer at a conference of petroleum executives in a Florida Ritz-Carlton." The organizers have refused to identify the group that hosted the conference or its attendees.
That left Hauter with no choice but to do her own research:
One group that held a meeting at the same hotel as Ms. Lee's appearance in March 2011 was National Fuel Gas Company, which according to SEC filings held its annual shareholders meeting at the Ritz Carlton in Naples, Fla. on March 10. The company sells and transports natural gas through Western New York and Pennsylvania.
More on New York and fracking:
New York Governor To Partially Lift State Moratorium on Fracking
47 Groups Urge New York Governor To Fully Ban Fracking
New York Times Reveals Secret Fracking Documents Showing Undisclosed Levels of Radiation In Drinking Water
As Fracking Corps Have 'An Enron Moment' Congressmen Push Natural Gas For Energy Security