Activists critical of Murkowski arrested in Washington

A protest banner featuring Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, hangs on Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington March 8, 2010. Three Greenpeace activists were arrested that day after their balloon-powered banner was released in the building.

WASHINGTON -- Three Greenpeace activists were arrested Monday after their balloon-powered banner criticizing Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, was released in the Senate Hart Office Building.

The three will be charged with unlawful conduct, demonstrating in a capitol building, said Sgt. Kimberly Schneider, a spokeswoman for the Capitol Police.

The banner, which rose to the ceiling of the building's 90-foot atrium, said "Lisa Murkowski, Happily matched since 2004" and had the logos of three companies: Exxon, Chevron and Southern Co.

Greenpeace spokesman Joe Smyth said Greenpeace was protesting ties between Murkowski and polluters. The banner was in reference to a Greenpeace campaign that has been highlighting the connections Murkowski and several other lawmakers have to energy interests. The campaign's spoof Web site, modeled after the online dating service eHarmony, is called "Polluter Harmony."

Murkowski spokesman Michael Brumas called it a "desperate attempt by an outside group to distract from the merits of the debate."

"Sen. Murkowski has legitimate concerns about the economic consequences of EPA regulating greenhouse gases and believes the American people deserve a full debate on the issue," Brumas said. "It's unfortunate that some extreme groups have to resort to breaking the law to try to quash that debate."

The three activists are Rachel Humphreys and Alec Rothman of Washington, D.C., and Samantha Corbin of New York City. Schneider said the three let loose the balloons before they reached the metal detectors that all visitors to Senate office buildings must pass through.

This story was reported by the Associated Press and Daily News reporter Erika Bolstad.

Daily News staff and wire