Inside the PAC teaching corporate America how to make its employees vote for the ‘right’ candidates and causes
On the morning of Jan. 29, construction workers were building a seawater pipe at Oliktok Point, part of a sprawling network of oil fields owned by ConocoPhillips on Alaska’s arctic North Slope, when they received an ominous notice. Workers at the icy camp would be required to attend a “safety stand-down” meeting, which is typically announced only after a job-site accident involving serious injury. One such meeting was called earlier this year, according to a contracted worker at the site, when a mechanic’s fingers were mangled by an industrial fan. Working in one of the world’s coldest and most isolated regions in the dead of winter—the nearest town of Deadhorse is roughly 40 miles away—comes with a host of potential hazards, and it was unclear to the crews what had happened and who might have been hurt. When nearly 200 construction workers assembled inside a large heated tent just outside the camp, they learned the meeting’s true purpose. An unfamiliar manager, identified as John Schuelke from ConocoPhillips’ Anchorage office, took to the stage and told them that there hadn’t been an accident. Instead, the company had gathered the group, mostly construction contractors, to tell them how they should vote in Alaska’s upcoming August primaries. The oil and gas industry, Schuelke said, was fighting Democrat-supported Ballot Measure 1, which sought to repeal a massive tax cut for oil companies that Alaska’s Republican-controlled state Legislature had recently passed. Schuelke told the crowd to vote against the repeal, according to the contracted worker, who was present. Schuelke claimed that many of the area’s jobs relied on the tax break. The implication was clear: Vote against repeal or your industry and your livelihood will suffer. Slate, 10-15-14.