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“As one of the largest energy providers and employers in the U.S., it is not unusual for BP staff to talk to people in the regulatory and policy arena who are interested in energy issues,” said Mr. Dean.

The emails, obtained under open-records laws by researcher Chris Horner, also show staffers for several Democratic senators setting up weekly calls to talk about the nomination. That email was also sent to both a FERC employee and a high-powered lobbyist who is aiding Mr. Binz’s nomination on the meeting invitation.

Mr. Binz testified to the committee Tuesday that he asked one of the strategists, Michael Meehan at VennSquared, a public relations firm, to stop contacting him in the middle of July.

He said he had nothing to do with the firm being hired and called it “an unfortunate situation.”