Western Energy Alliance (WEA) is a non-profit trade association that represents oil and gas companies that are from or work in the western US. WEA focuses many of its efforts on supporting legislation for hydraulic fracturing, a natural gas extraction method, also known as fracking.
FTI Consulting has been listed as a contractor on WEA’s 990s starting in 2017, earning a total of $460k since. FTI is a large consulting firm that describes itself as “an independent global business advisory firm dedicated to helping organizations manage change, mitigate risk and resolve disputes: financial, legal, operational, political & regulatory, reputational and transactional.”
In early 2019, some of the work FTI had been doing for WEA made headlines when FTI employees were accused of misrepresenting themselves as journalists while working at Western Wire, a news outlet that is run by WEA. The environmental legal organization EarthRights recorded and released audio of FTI strategist Matt Dempsey seeking an interview for Western Wire with EarthRights’ general council. At the time, EarthRights was representing the city and county of Boulder, Colorado and the County of San Miguel, California in a lawsuit where the local communities sought climate damages from Exxon, a WEA member.
During the phone conversation, after questioning from EarthRight’s general council Marco Simons, Dempsey revealed that Western Wire’s staff consisted of primarily FTI employees, which were funded by their contract with WEA. This relationship is confirmed on WEA’s 2018 990, where the purpose of FTI’s contract was stated as “Western Wire.”
WEA’s contractors, FTI, attempting to seek information on the climate case one of their member companies is involved in, bumps up against ethics rules for both the legal and PR industries.
Learn more about FTI on DeSmog