One of the state’s top gas-industry trade groups has filed a formal complaint against an anti-fracking group backed by Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon, accusing the organization of running afoul of state lobbying laws.
The Independent Oil & Gas Association of New York filed the complaint with the state ethics board last week, outlining various call-in campaigns, billboards and newspaper and television advertisements backed by Artists Against Fracking, which is not registerred to lobby in the state.
“I am concerned that the public has been unable to learn how much money is being spent on this effort, what it is being spent on, and who is funding this effort,” wrote Brad Gill, IOGA’s executive director. “I understand the power of celebrity that this organization has brought to the public discussion over natural gas development, but I do not understand why this organization is not being required to follow the state’s lobbying laws.”
A spokesman for Artists Against Fracking said the group is not violating any lobby laws, telling the AP (which broke the story) that Lennon and Ono are not required to register as lobbyists.
“As private citizens, Yoko and Sean are not required to register as lobbyists when they use their own money to express an opinion and there’s also no lobbying requirement when you are engaged in a public comment period by a state agency,” spokesman David Fenton told the AP.
Meanwhile, recent filings with the Joint Commission on Public Ethics show Exxon Mobil provided $2 million to IOGA for an ad campaign last year.
Here’s IOGA’s complaint: