FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The ‘Pipeline-for-Prostitute’ Landman

A DeSmog investigation has uncovered the identity of a land agent and the contract company he works with that allegedly offered to buy an Iowa farmer the services of two teenage sex workers in exchange for access to his land to build the controversial proposed Dakota Access pipeline, owned by Energy Transfer Partners.

The land agent who allegedly made the offer is Stephen Titus, a Senior Right-of-Way Agent who works for the Texas company Contract Land Staff, which was contracted by Energy Transfer Partners.

No news outlet has, until now, established the identity of the land agent on the tape, or the contracting company he works for. DeSmog is naming the land agent and the company after an investigation into the available evidence and publicly accessible information, as well as evidence from the farmer who first made the allegation and a second source who has heard an audio recording of the conversation when the sex offer was made.

The Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation also has a copy of the conversation Tweedy recorded with Titus, and has opened an investigation, according to the Des Moines Register.

Hughie Tweedy, the Iowa landowner who secretly recorded the exchange, told DeSmogBlog on May 19: “Steve Titus. I think the name of the company is Contract Land Staff.”

Ed Fallon, a former Iowa state lawmaker, environmental and property-rights activist and independent radio show host heard Tweedy’s audio recording on May 13 and told DeSmogBlog immediately afterwards that the land agent’s name was “something Titus.”

On May 22, DeSmogBlog asked Fallon to verify if he remembered the land agent giving his name as Stephen Titus.

“I believe that was his name. I’m pretty sure. It was hard to hear over the phone,” Fallon said.

Steve Titus’ LinkedIn profile states he currently works for Contract Land Staff out of Stockport, Iowa, located just a few miles from Tweedy’s Lee County farm and the Montrose town at which Titus allegedly made his offer. Titus, pictured above, has lived in Iowa since July 2014 according to his LinkedIn, roughly when news of the pipeline plan first broke in Iowa.

Titus’ LinkedIn profile includes a job description fitting the role he played when contacting Tweedy:

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 5.17.16 PM

Image Credit: LInkedIn

Among other jobs he held before working at Contract Land Staff, Titus worked for the company Golden Field Services out of Watford City, North Dakota, which is located in the heart of the Bakken Shale basin. Energy Transfer’s proposed Dakota Access pipeline runs from the Bakken, straight through South Dakota and Iowa and ends in Patoka, Illinois.

“Responsible for negotiating row with no right to immanent domain,” Titus wrote (sic) for his job description at Golden Field Services on LinkedIn. “Negotiated permits and routing with [North Dakota Department of Transportation] & North Dakota trust lands. Coordinated with landowners and surveyors before & during construction and cleanup.”

DeSmogBlog attempted to contact Titus for comment multiple times, but never received a response.

Several newspaper and television reporters have listened to Tweedy’s recording and have confirmed Tweedy’s basic narrative, including the Little Village Magazine, Cedar Rapids Gazette, and KCRG TV news. But the identity of the land agent and his company wasn’t known until now.

Contract Land Staff

Contract Land Staff is a contracting company that works at the behest of pipeline corporations like Energy Transfer Partners to secure easements and right-of-way agreements with landowners to open up private farmland for proposed pipelines.

“CLS is known for quickly mobilizing talented Right of Way personnel for large-scale projects throughout the U.S.,” explains its website. “From strategic planning to project completion, today’s CLS is a full-service provider for all your land asset management needs.”

The company touts its technological expertise in obtaining GIS mapping data with complex software and putting it to use to secure land for pipeline corporations seeking to build oil pipelines across both the U.S. and Canada.

Landmen like Titus have played a controversial role since the rise of the hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) boom in the U.S.

As first reported here on DeSmogBlog, fracking giant Range Resources admitted at a public relations conference in Houston in 2011 that its landmen and community affairs staff utilize psychological warfare (PSYOPs) techniques in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale basin. Landmen also came under the spotlight in the Hollywood film “Promised Land,” in which Matt Damon starred as a landman.

According to documents up on the Township of Montville, New Jersey’s website, Contract Land Staff is also working to secure right-of-way agreements and easements from landowners there on behalf of Pilgrim Pipeline Holdings LLC, owner of the controversial proposed Pilgrim Pipeline. Like Dakota Access, Pilgrim Pipeline is slated to carry oil obtained via fracking the Bakken to market.

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 4.50.07 PM

Image Credit: Township of Montville, New Jersey

A July 2014 Jacksonville Journal Courier article explained that Contract Land Staff was sending land survey requests to central Illinois landowners on behalf of the Dakota Access pipeline, a depiction that the company is working in multiple states on behalf of Energy Transfer Partners.

Representatives from Contract Land Staff did not respond to questions sent by email about Titus from DeSmogBlog.

Criminal Investigation Opened

Alex Murphy, a spokesman for the  Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation in Des Moines, told the Des Moines Register: “I can confirm that we are investigating these allegations. We were asked to assist with the investigation by the Lee County Attorney.”

DeSmogBlog attempted to contact Murphy for comment multiple times, but never received a response.

Sex trafficking near North Dakota’s Bakken Shale oil fields is on the rise and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has opened a field office in oil country to combat it. Pipeline fighters, as well as fracking critics, are increasingly drawing connections between the exploitation of public resources, private property, indigenous people, and women.

 Steve Horn and David Goodner write for DeSmogBlog, where this piece first appeared.

September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savior
Mairead Maguire
Demonization of Russia in a New Cold War Era
Dean Baker
The Bank Bailout of 2008 was Unnecessary
Wim Laven
Hurricane Trump, Season 2
Yves Engler
Smearing Dimitri Lascaris
Ron Jacobs
From ROTC to Revolution and Beyond
Clark T. Scott
The Cannibals of Horsepower
Binoy Kampmark
A Traditional Right: Jimmie Åkesson and the Sweden Democrats
Laura Flanders
History Markers
Weekend Edition
September 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Obama’s Imperial Presidency
Joshua Frank
From CO2 to Methane, Trump’s Hurricane of Destruction
Jeffrey St. Clair
Maria’s Missing Dead
Andrew Levine
A Bulwark Against the Idiocy of Conservatives Like Brett Kavanaugh
T.J. Coles
Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Celebrity Salesman for the Military-Industrial-Complex
Jeff Ballinger
Nike and Colin Kaepernick: Fronting the Bigots’ Team
David Rosen
Why Stop at Roe? How “Settled Law” Can be Overturned
Gary Olson
Pope Francis and the Battle Over Cultural Terrain
Nick Pemberton
Donald The Victim: A Product of Post-9/11 America
Ramzy Baroud
The Veiled Danger of the ‘Dead’ Oslo Accords
Kevin Martin
U.S. Support for the Bombing of Yemen to Continue
Robert Fisk
A Murder in Aleppo
Robert Hunziker
The Elite World Order in Jitters
Ben Dangl
After 9/11: The Staggering Economic and Human Cost of the War on Terror
Charles Pierson
Invade The Hague! Bolton vs. the ICC
Robert Fantina
Trump and Palestine
Daniel Warner
Hubris on and Off the Court
John Kendall Hawkins
Boning Up on Eternal Recurrence, Kubrick-style: “2001,” Revisited
Haydar Khan
Set Theory of the Left
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail