The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on 17th September on the nomination of Ron Binz to be chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. It was not a pleasant day for Mr. Binz, but his week went downhill from there.
Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), ranking Republican on the committee, asked Binz why he had told her in a private meeting that he wasn’t working with an outside PR firm to support his confirmation, when e-mails released soon after showed that he was working with the hard-left firm Venn Squared Communications plus two lobbyists who have many energy company clients. In response, Binz said, “I apologize if I have left a different impression from what we now agree has happened.”
It didn’t work. Senator Murkowski announced at the end of the hearing that she could not support Binz’s confirmation. The next day Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced that he would vote no. Then Senator Dean Heller (R-Nev.), who always has to worry about what his fellow Nevada Senator, Majority Leader Harry Reid, can do to him, sent out a press release announcing that he would vote no. By the end of the week, all the Republican Senators on the committee had come out against Binz. If Manchin plus all the Republicans vote against him in committee mark-up, the nomination will fail on an 11 to 11 tie.