US lobbyists, including former Biden adviser, rake in millions from Russia-backed Nord Stream 2

Nord Stream 2 shelled out big bucks to drum up US support for the pipeline, which now faces sanctions from Biden

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which would transport gas from Russia to Germany, was halted by Germany in response to Russian troops crossing into Ukraine. While the pipeline has been the recent focus of calls for sanctions against the Kremlin, American lobbying groups made big money supporting it.

According to records reported by OpenSecrets.org, Nord Stream 2 paid American lobbying firm Roberti Global $5 million since 2020 for co-founder Vincent Roberti to lobby in support of the pipeline. 

Roberti is a Democratic donor and a former adviser to President Biden's 2008 run for president.

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Likewise, Nord Stream 2 has paid roughly $1.6 million to BGR Group for the services of Walker Roberts since 2020, according to OpenSecrets.org. Roberts worked in the Reagan White House and on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee under Chairman Richard Lugar.

Vincent Roberti

Vincent Roberti, second from right, is seen with designer Kenneth Cole, left, Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete, second from left, and Professor Jumanne Maghembe, right, at the Tanzania Education Trust New York Gala at Plaza Athenee April 19, 2010. (Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The United Republic of Tanzania / Getty Images)

In recent months, Russia has used Gazprom to cut natural gas to Ukraine. In January, it reduced its daily transport of gas via Ukraine to Europe to a two-year low of about 50 million cubic meters.

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Additionally, records showed that five companies supporting the pipeline paid lobbyists at the firm McLarty Inbound upward of $1.6 million since 2020 to support the pipeline.

Nord Stream 2

Pipes at the landfall facilities of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in Lubmin, northern Germany, Feb. 15, 2022. Stream 2 is a 764-mile natural gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea, running from Russia to Germany's Baltic coast.  (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, File / AP Newsroom)

FOX Business asked the three lobbying firms if they plan to continue lobbying in support of the pipeline, but none of them responded.

Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine Thursday, and dozens so far are dead.

Biden announced that he will be imposing sanctions on the pipeline owner in response to Russian actions in Ukraine, reversing a 2021 decision to waive sanctions on the project.

"These steps are another piece of our initial tranche of sanctions in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine," Biden said. "As I have made clear, we will not hesitate to take further steps if Russia continues to escalate."

The Biden administration previously did not take steps to stop the pipeline, despite bipartisan support for it in Congress. The White House did, however, encourage Democrats to oppose a bill from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, that would have imposed sanctions such as asset freezes and travel bans against European business leaders connected to the pipeline. 

Nord Stream 2

Pipes at the landfall facilities of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in Lubmin, northern Germany, Feb. 15, 2022.  (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, File / AP Newsroom)

While six Democrats voted for the bill, it failed to get 60 votes needed to avoid a filibuster. Instead, the White House and the majority of Senate Democrats backed a bill from Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., that took a broader approach to sanctions against Russia.

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Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., spoke against Cruz's bill, arguing during remarks on the Senate floor in January that it "won't make the Nord Stream pipeline any less likely," and that the proposed sanctions were "feckless" because Russia would be able to get around them "easily withing 30 to 60 days" by reworking the project's financing and administration.

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Due to Russia deeming the pipeline a commercial project despite being run by a government-owned company, lobbyists have registered pursuant to the Lobbying Disclosure Act, which does not require that they disclose which government officials they have met with. Typically, lobbyists working on behalf of foreign governments have to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which would require that they publicize who they meet with.