Democrats seek sworn testimony by oil executives

November 17, 2005|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

WASHINGTON -- Congressional Democrats urged yesterday that oil company executives be summoned back to Capitol Hill to testify - this time under oath - about whether they participated in Vice President Dick Cheney's energy policy task force.

Democrats also said they want to ask more questions about the industry's record profits at a time of high energy prices.

But Sen. Ted Stevens, an Alaska Republican who chose not to swear in the executives at a hearing he presided over last week, said that forcing witnesses to be sworn in would be "nothing but a photo op."

The partisan spat was sparked by a Washington Post report yesterday that officials from several large oil companies met with Cheney's task force in 2001 while it was drafting the administration's energy policy. The CEOs who testified at the Senate hearing said their companies had not met with the task force or were unaware of any such meetings.

Sens. Pete V. Domenici, a New Mexico Republican who is chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, the panel's top Democrat, called on the five CEOs who testified to respond, in writing, to the "apparent inconsistencies" raised by the news story, which cited a White House document as the source of its information.

Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, a New Jersey Democrat, called for a Justice Department investigation into whether the oilmen gave false testimony.

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