Another BP Lobbyist Is Paying Mary Landrieu’s Husband

by Jonathan Strong

Tony Podesta isn’t the only BP lobbyist paying Senator Mary Landrieu’s husband for real-estate services.

Jason Schendle, a BP lobbyist and former Landrieu staffer, also used Frank Snellings, Landrieu’s husband, to purchase a $687,500 Capitol Hill townhouse in March. Landrieu’s office did not disclose how much Schendle paid Snellings, but based on industry practices it was likely around $20,000.

Snellings is being paid for services by lobbyists whose clients have business before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on which his wife, Landrieu, serves as a senior member, prompting questions about a conflict of interest. However, no law or ethics rule prohibits the spouse of a senator from employment which could create a conflict of interest, according to the Senate Ethics Committee.

Schendle worked for Landrieu for nearly nine years on agriculture and industry policy before departing to become a lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute and, more recently, the Alpine Group, according to a biography on the Alpine Group’s website. “In his capacity as Legislative Counsel, Mr. Schendle advised the Senator on the Energy Policy Act of 2005 as well as the 2002 Farm Bill,” the bio says.

As a lobbyist, Schendle’s clients include BP, Duke Energy, Murphy Oil, and the National Mining Association.

The former aide also shares a family connection to Landrieu. Schendle’s uncle attended college with Snellings and has known the Snellings/Landrieu family for over 30 years, a source familiar with the matter says.

The Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney reported Tuesday that Snellings is the listing agent for a $1.8 million townhouse owned by super lobbyist Podesta. The house is not Podesta’s primary residence but instead is used to host fundraisers. Based on standard industry practices, Snellings will likely receive a commission in the range of $50,000 for selling the house, which is under contract.

In the past year, Landrieu has intervened with the federal government on behalf of BP with gusto, for example urging the EPA in March to lift its suspension, stemming from the disastrous BP Oil Spill, of the company’s ability to secure new federal contracts, including drilling leases.

Matthew Lehner, a spokesman for Landrieu, said the senator and her husband have consulted the ethics committee on his work for lobbyists or anyone else.

“After practicing law in Louisiana for 19 years, Mr. Snellings decided eleven years ago to sell real estate. At that time, he and Senator Landrieu received guidance from the Senate Ethics Committee that stated it is completely permissible and appropriate for Mr. Snellings to be a real estate agent for anyone. Mr. Snellings and Sen. Landrieu have always abided by the committee’s rules and guidance, and they disclose their finances every year,” Lehner said.

In Landrieu’s latest financial disclosure form, it lists Snellings’ real-estate commissions as comprising “over $1,000” of income for the couple. No additional detail is required. Lehner did not specify the amount that Schendle paid Snellings or whether he had also been paid by any other BP lobbyists.

Snellings did not return a call for comment. Schendle did not return a call for comment.