A real-life lobbyist was just permanently banned in EVE Online for corruption

Above: EVE Online's Brisc Rubal, known in real life as Brian Schoeneman, a maritime law lobbyist. Source: YouTube.

Update, 9:50 am PDT, 4/25/2019: CCP Games has revealed the findings of their investigation and cleared Brian Schoeneman and the other two players of any wrongdoing and is rescinding their bans. You can read all about this new development in our follow-up article, which includes statements from both CCP Games and Schoeneman.

Update, 10:30 am PDT, 4/17/2019: It seems that, as I speculated, Brian Schoeneman might not be guilty after all. In a blog post released today, developer CCP Games said it has discusses the issue with Brian Schoeneman and the two other banned players and is "conducting an internal review to substantiate the evidence" provided to it while also evaluating its "handling of the situation." Though no exact ruling has been made yet, CCP Games plans to release a statement next week with the findings of their follow-up investigation.

Given what has happened though, it's hard not to read this as CCP preparing to unban Schoeneman. "As should be expected, we will issue a full and frank apology for any mistakes for which we are responsible, as well as provide appropriate reparations to those affected by any erroneous actions we’ve taken," the blog post reads.

Though it certainly looks like Schoeneman could be found innocent of any wrongdoing, we will have to wait for CCP's final verdict next week.

Schoeneman denied to comment on this new turn of events.

Update, 4:40 pm PDT, 4/8/2019: Brian Schoeneman has now made a lengthy public statement denying any wrongdoing. Schoeneman says CCP Games is not responding to his requests for more information about what, specifically, he was banned for and asserts that he did not break any non-disclosure agreements or share confidential information. "As a licensed attorney for nearly a decade, I have never had a complaint filed against me," Schoeneman writes. "I have served in positions of public trust in the United States Government and have never had a complaint filed against me. The claims that I would risk my reputation by providing proprietary or otherwise confidential information to members of my own alliance for personal gain are false."

"There is no reason why I would jeopardize all of that by violating my word, putting my reputation on the line, and risking all of this to provide a fellow player with an unfair advantage in the game," he adds.

"I will fight these false allegations, restore my reputation and seek all avenues for recourse available to me for these reckless actions," Schoeneman concludes. You can read the statement in full on the EVE subreddit.

Original story: EVE Online is usually known for bitter betrayals and catastrophic battles, but that's all guided by the politics of its massive player-driven alliances. And today, EVE Online is having one hell of a political scandal involving a player who is not only an elected politician in EVE Online, but is also a political lobbyist in real life too.

His name is Brian Schoeneman, known in EVE as Brisc Rubal, and he serves on EVE Online's Council of Stellar Management (CSM). Or, he did serve until today when developer CCP Games announced that Brian Schoeneman was now permanently banned for "sharing confidential information with a member of his alliance that was later used by another alliance member to conduct illicit in-game transactions."

In EVE Online,  the CSM is a body of elected players who serve as lobbyists for various player factions and work closely with developer CCP Games to provide feedback about the game and weigh in on the design of new features. Just like real politicians, each member of the CSM has to campaign for votes, which Brian Schoeneman started doing back in May of 2018. But unlike most CSM members, Schoeneman has real-life experience to draw from, on which he leaned heavily in his video announcing his election campaign.

Outside of EVE, Schoeneman is a maritime law lobbyist in Virginia, USA. In an interview with Kotaku, Schoeneman said, "I think the largest single thing I can bring to the CSM is that I have been doing what is effectively the CSM’s role for my entire political career. I am constantly going out and lobbying the government and trying to educate them on what my members think is important, and how what the government does affects my industry, all while making sure what we do is good for the country."

But maybe tying his real-life political identity to his in-game one wasn't the smartest idea. Earlier today, CCP Games announced that, effective immediately, Schoeneman was removed from his role in the CSM and permanently banned from the game. Two other players named Dark Shines and Pandoralica also received year-long bans (both also contend they are innocent), and all the ISK and goods associated with scheme, which sounds a lot like the EVE Online version of insider trading, has been confiscated.

"This misconduct was brought to us by the CSM themselves as an immediate threat to the integrity of the CSM as an institution," reads CCP Games' statement. "CCP’s stance on this is clear: regardless of the type of information shared, acts like this go against everything that the Council of Stellar Management stands for and will not be tolerated under any circumstances."

Naturally, this has created quite the stir in the EVE community. Schoeneman, Dark Shines, and Pandoralica are all high-profile members of The Initiative, a massive and reputable alliance that was first founded in 2008 and boasts over 5,000 players. Not even a month ago, we spoke to Schoeneman and Pandoralica as part of a story that involved a top secret plan to destroy a space station widely considered unassailable. Over on the EVE subreddit, the thread about Schoeneman's ban has already reached over 500 comments.

Schoeneman seems confused about that too. Over on his personal Twitter, he issued a statement claiming to "not know" why he was banned from EVE and removed from the CSM. Apparently, CCP Games has not responded to his request for more clarification over the decision and Schoeneman denies any wrong doing.

Schoeneman has since released a full statement on Reddit which you can read, in full, here.

Without any evidence to look at, it's Schoeneman's word against CCP Games'. But, knowing the ingenious nature of EVE's players, I wouldn't necessarily rule out that this could all be a part of some elaborate plot by a rival faction. After all, EVE Online is known for devastating schemes that ruin the in-game lives of famous players. Or Schoeneman could simply be trying to save face. I will update this story with more details when (and if) they are revealed.

Update, 3 pm PDT, 4/17/2019: Added a clarification that CCP Games has been in contact with Schoeneman and the two banned players.

Update, 10:30 am PDT, 4/17/2019: Included a new statement from CCP Games regarding a follow-up investigation.

Update, 4:40 pm PDT, 4/8/2019: Included Brian Schoeneman's statement, which was provided to us personally but can also be found on Reddit here.

Update, 1:23 pm PDT, 4/8/2019: Added the identities of the two other banned players and clarified their positions in The Initiative.