IOWA CITY — A southeast Iowa landowner claiming a land agent offered him a prostitute in exchange for letting a pipeline cross his property allowed reporters to listen Wednesday to an audio recording he said he secretly made of the conversation.
Hughie Tweedy, 61, of rural Montrose, said he recorded a Nov. 20 conversation with a right of way agent working with Dakota Access LLC, a subsidiary of Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, which wants to build a 1,134-mile crude oil pipeline through 18 Iowa counties.
The pipeline is slated to pass through a wooded corner of Tweedy’s 165 acres just west of the Mississippi River in Lee County. Officials have indicated they will use eminent domain laws if owners won’t sign voluntary easements.
“This is all about saving my sacred family farm,” Tweedy said Wednesday from his son’s Iowa City yard.
Tweedy allowed reporters to listen to the 15-minute recording, but only on headphones so they could not record the audio. He also would not let them take notes. He said his attorney advised him not to distribute or publish the recording in case it becomes part of a court proceeding.
The recording appears to be continuous for about 10 minutes before some edits Tweedy said he and his son made to condense conversation at a bar near Tweedy’s house. Tweedy said he asked the agent to meet him for beers.
A voice matching Tweedy’s starts by reminding another man, purportedly the agent, of previous talks in which the agent hinted at hiring him a prostitute. The man suggests they go to St. Louis, where he can hire two or three 19-year-old prostitutes for $1,200. The man also mentions an escort service.
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They talk about other matters, including the likelihood pipeline executives might bypass Tweedy’s land because of a campground Tweedy has been trying to build.
Tweedy first captured media attention Monday when he spoke on the steps of the Capitol about the alleged offer. Dakota Access said at the time that the company was aware of the allegation and was investigating.
Dakota Access spokeswoman Vicki Anderson Granado made a similar statement Wednesday.
“We are aware of allegations that have been made concerning the conduct of an employee of one of our contractors,” she wrote in an email. “We take these types of matters very seriously. We do not conduct business in the manner suggested, nor do we condone any contractors to conduct themselves in any manner other than to treat people with the utmost respect and professionalism. We are committed to continuing to maintain these high standards as we continue to execute this project in Iowa.”
She declined to answer The Gazette’s questions about whether Dakota Access was still investigating or had taken action over the allegation.
Dakota Access is proposing the pipeline from the Bakken crude supply area in North Dakota to Pakota, Ill., including 343 miles cutting diagonally across Iowa.