Among the witnesses heard by the subcommittee on that day was David L. Sokol, Chairman of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company, who testified on behalf of GOP opposition.
Mr. Sokol spoke against the bill on his company’s website:
“The Waxman-Markey bill is a cap and trade program that will force our customers to pay two expensive costs,” Sokol said. “First, they will pay the cost of emissions allowances purchased on a complex auction market that will do nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and second, they will pay the cost of replacing our existing fossil-fuel generation facilities with low-carbon alternatives.”testimony before the subcommittee, apparently provoking a criminal response from Markey, according to The Hill:
As a result, Sokol said MidAmerican could not join the Edison Electric Institute in endorsing Waxman-Markey. The House Committee on Energy and Commerce began legislative consideration of the measure today. “Cap and trade will have a profoundly negative impact on people who are struggling to make ends meet in an economy still in distress[.]”
Energy panel Republicans are levying accusations of witness intimidation against Democratic Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), one of the key authors of the contentious House climate change bill.The Hill continued:
Republicans have seized on a letter – a copy of which was obtained by The Hill – that Markey penned to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Jon Wellinghoff asking FERC to investigate the actions of a major energy company on the same day that the company’s CEO was set to testify before the energy panel on the dangers of a carbon cap and trade system.
According to the June 9 letter, Markey requested that Wellinghoff probe how thoroughly MidAmerican Energy Holdings – a $41 billion company in which Warren Buffet is a major investor – followed up on promises to invest as much as $15 billion in electric transmission expansion in the wake of the repeal of the Public Utility Holding Company Act in 2005.
In fact, Markey singled out MidAmerican Energy to also ask FERC to look into his concerns “that the repeal of PUHCA has also freed large multi-state public utility companies to diversify into other potentially risky business, to the potential detriment of utility investors and consumers.”
“For example, MidAmerican Holdings has acquired the second largest real estate brokerage company in the country,” Markey wrote in his six-page letter. “What protections have been put in place to prevent utility shareholders, such as those of MidAmerican Holdings’ regulated utilities, to prevent them from rate increases, higher costs for borrowing, or other risks with might be associated with unsuccessful or failed diversifications?”
Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), the ranking Republican on Markey’s Energy and Environment Subcommittee, received a copy of the letter.I should add: Markey’s letter was sent during Sokol’s testimony.
GOP sources confirmed that Republicans reacted furiously when they saw that the letter was sent the very same day that MidAmerican’s CEO, David L. Sokol, was testifying as a Republican witness before Markey’s subcommittee.
You may download a scanned copy of Markey’s letter to the FERC as a PDF at this link.
In the 11 June 2009 edition of the Omaha World-Herald, Sokol said he was “he was singled out by name” in the letter, (indeed, he was, as were his company and it’s primary shareholder), and accused Markey of trying to intimidate him into backing off on the Cap-and-Trade issue.
Rep. Lee Terry, (R-Neb.), a member of the Energy and Environment committee, said Markey's letter was retaliation for Sokol's testimony and intended as a message for future witnesses:
"Having Warren [Buffet] and Dave's credibility questioned like that—the whole result of that is to intimidate the next witness.”Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.), also a member of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee had this reaction:
“I am deeply troubled by the message this sends, whether it was accidental or intentional… If I had gotten that letter, I would have gotten the message that it was sent to intimidate me.”On Friday, 12 June 2009, Markey dismissed the GOP’s concerns, claiming his letter to the FERC was in process days before he knew Sokol would be testifying: Yet, he sent it anyway, surely realizing how it would be perceived—realistically, how on Earth could he possibly not?
“It is essential that witnesses be allowed to come forward and give candid testimony.”
If you, gentle reader, were sitting on that committee, listening to testimony which could reduce or help reduce your bill to a smoking, useless ruin, and you knew your letter was going out within moments, singling out the witness by name and launching an investigation into his company in particular, would it never, ever occur to you that such letter and subsequent investigation would be regarded as nothing other than direct and retaliatory intimidation—intimidation not only of this witness but of all future dissenting witnesses sitting before congressional committees?
Of course it would occur to you; and I submit it beggars credulity to suppose it did not occur to Markey or his staff.
In a grammatically-disgraceful attempt at damage control, Markey said:
“I would never seek to intimidate or retaliate against a person from having to come in and having to testify before this subcommittee.”And in a hasty—this time, merely grammatically-awkward—follow-up letter to the FERC, Markey wrote:
“I did not intend for the Commission to focus on just one company but rather on the industry as a whole.”My friend, if you buy into that steaming pile of horse-hockey, you must still be dazed from your fall off the turnip truck.
Other than Sokol, Buffet and their company, no other companies or individuals—outside of government—are mentioned or alluded to in Markey’s entire 6-page letter to the FERC.
Yet Markey maintains he didn’t intend to focus on Sokol’s company? This must be some new and esoteric use of the word “focus” about which I haven’t been informed.
Few things are more important in a free society than the sovereignty of a witness.
If a witness—any witness, anywhere, in any court or governmental venue—fears personal or professional reprisals due to his testimony, unless he is a very special individual he will simply parrot what he believes will please his questioners and the truth be damned.
Any behavior—intentional or otherwise—which threatens the sanctity of official testimony threatens our freedom, threatens our society, threatens our families, threatens us as individuals and simply cannot be tolerated in the slightest.
Even if you believe Markey so incredibly stupid as to be oblivious to the timing and implications of his action, the fact is—by his own admission—he did it!
Any witness before a congressional committee—now, and long into the future—will think twice before he opens his mouth.
Markey has done an awful thing. A frightful thing. An intolerable thing.
For Congress to maintain whatever credibility, legitimacy and efficacy it may have left, Markey has to be called before the mast.
Markey must be punished and Congress must see to it that he is. Publically.
For all that, there is another—equally disturbing—issue here:
Clicking this link will take you to a Google News search for the keywords: Markey intimidation.
At that link, you will see that not one major media outlet is giving this scandal any coverage whatsoever!
In point of fact, as of this writing, 16 June, only The Hill, the Omaha World-Herald and the Salt Lake Tribune—out of all the major and minor newspapers and TV news outlets—have even mentioned this, and those three have been utterly silent since 13 June.
How can this be? How can this possibly be?
President Clinton did the smokey-pokey with a dumpy intern and the whole world knew about it! They must have heard of it on Pluto for pete’s sake!
Yet, members of the Congress of the United States have accused a sitting congressman of intimidating a congressional witness during hearings on a presidentially-approved, trillion-plus-dollar bill and no national media outlet is giving it so much as a brief mention?
It doesn’t matter who is right or who is wrong—this is nonetheless a very serious matter, but the media is keeping mum.
They must know about it: I do, you do, the mentioned newspapers do.
You might think that some journalists are ignoring the scandal because they want Markey’s climate bill to pass and to hell with propriety; but not all of them support this or, indeed, other climate bills. Yet, they are silent as well.
It’s quiet—too quiet.
There’s something going on here that I don’t like—and you shouldn’t either.
Update! Articles pertaining to the scandal may be found at these links:
Congressman Intimidates Congressional Witnesses (this article)
Congressional Witness Intimidation: David Sokol Video Interview
Is The Media Covering Up A Political Scandal?
Why The Media Blackout Of Congressional Scandal?
GOP Press Release On Congressman Markey Scandal
Congressional Scandal Videos: Sokol Testimony, Markey Apology