Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
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.
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.