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CRENSHAW’S OIL STAIN
DESPITE HIS CAMPAIGN CLAIMS, ANDER CRENSHAW’S TENURE HAS BEEN DEFINED BY FEALTY TO BIG OIL
Oil independence is the modern mantra of elected officials, radio talk show hosts and multinational oil companies. But the real reason this nation hasn’t moved to become energy independent is reflected in the giant oil slick running between oil interests and elected officials, in the form of campaign contributions. The brazen attempt by Congressional Republicans to shift blame to Democrats for the nation’s energy crisis and continued high gas prices, as Congressman Ander Crenshaw recently did in a July 15 letter to The Florida Times-Union, is belied by a trail of oil money that flows freely to Crenshaw and his Republican colleagues.
Crenshaw attempts to blame high prices BUYING BIG INFLUENCE on Democrats who have had barely One of the main beneficiaries of Crenmajority control of the House for less shaw’s votes has been Koch Industries, an than two years and who have occupied oil, natural gas and land management the White House for only eight of the last conglomerate that is the largest privately 27-and-a-half years, when in fact it is the held company in the world. Like cozy relationship Republicans have with Crenshaw, oil barons David and Charles oil interests — combined with the Koch — tied for 37th on the 2008 Forbes botched Republican Mideast policy — World’s Billionaire list — have close ties to that is the root cause. His letter appeared the Bush family. Koch’s interests in recent in the Times-Union the day before thouyears have contributed more than $3 milsands of North Florida voters (including lion to friendly Republicans, including this writer) received a glossy flier in their Bush’s two presidential campaigns. In all, mailboxes — with taxpayers paying the about 79 percent of Koch’s contributions postage — casting Crenshaw as an archiwent to Republican candidates. tect of a grand alternative energy strategy to make the nation “free from dependence on foreign oil.” Make no mistake. Crenshaw Crenshaw’s voting record since he took office seven-and-a-half years is a major player in the ago tells quite a different story. In pay-to-play network in that time, Crenshaw voted: • Against a crackdown on oil/gas Washington, part of the industry price-gouging reason this nation has no • With indicted former House Speaker and Crenshaw ally Tom energy plan, and part of the DeLay to protect polluters in 29 states from paying cleanup costs for reason for high prices some 1,861 water systems contamiat the pump. nated with MTBE, a fuel additive and potential carcinogen • For oil drilling in the Arctic National The Koch brothers are also arch-conserWildlife Refuge vatives, influenced by their father, who was • Against mandated higher fuel effia founder of the John Birch Society. They ciency standards for vehicles • For construction of new oil refineries fund such right-leaning think tanks as The Cato Institute and Citizens for a Sound on Federal lands Economy. (Americans for Prosperity, a Crenshaw also received $16,500 in Political Action Committee (PAC) contri- national anti-tax group supported by the Koch brothers, has its Florida headquarters butions by the end of his first two-year in Ponte Vedra Beach.) term from the utility, oil and gas sectors, Koch (pronounced “coke”) businesses according to an April 2004 study by the require lot of tree-cutting, so it’s not surU.S. Public Interest Research Group, and prising that Crenshaw supported opening another $6,500 from big oil in his first Ocala National Forest, a national treasure, two terms.
18 FOLIO WEEKLY August 26-September 1, 2008
OIL MONEY’S LONG REACH
Connecting the dots between Big Oil money, major players in Washington’s pay-to-play network and Florida Congressman Ander Crenshaw.
Oil & Gas Company Political Contributions 1990-2008
Republicans (75%) Democrats (25%) $54,130,438 $164,968,695
Georgia-Pacific Koch Industries
• Wichita, Kan.-based privately held conglomerate with holdings in oil, natural gas, refineries, pipeline and land-related industries • Owners dubbed “nation’s worst environmental criminals.” Koch Industries added this paper and lumber giant to its holdings in 2005, including the Palatka paper mill that wants to dump waste in the St. Johns River.
Money to Politicians
KOCH Think Tanks
Fund trips for politicians
Funded two of the 11 privately financed trips Crenshaw took between 2001 and 2005
Mercatus Center Congressman Tom DeLay
Indicted former House Majority Leader, Crenshaw’s mentor and travel companion
Congressman Roy Blunt
Former House Majority Whip, Crenshaw’s mentor and travel companion
Trip to Malaysia $1,000
from DeLay’s AMPAC In 2001 with Lobbyist Ed Buckham, former DeLay aide who gave Crenshaw $1,000 in 2004
from Blunt’s PAC
Trip to Denmark
In 2004 at taxpayer expense with Roy Blunt
Funded trip for nowjailed Congressman Bob Ney, who accompanied Crenshaw on a trip paid for by the Ripon Education Fund (not affiliated with Mercatus), whose founder represents a drug firm that gave Crenshaw $1,000. Crenshaw’s mentor, Roy Blunt, gave Ney $10,000.
Big Oil Money ANDER CRENSHAW
CONGRESSMAN, FLORIDA DISTRICT 4
Votes Help Big Oil Interests
Crenshaw’s votes directly benefit Big Oil: against a crackdown on oil/gas industry price gouging; for oil drilling in the Arctic Refuge, etc.
• Tom DeLay’s Asst. House Whip as 2001 freshman • Quickly elevated to Deputy Whip by Roy Blunt in 2002, a key job to get votes for DeLay and his pay-to-play network • Contributed thousands of dollars from his own campaign fund to those who followed DeLay’s voting recommendations • Voted to bend House Ethics rules so an indicted DeLay could retain power • Voted with DeLay 97 percent of the time • Voted for Roy Blunt as House Majority Leader replacement, as DeLay recommended • Contributed $140,000 to National Republican Party from his fat campaign fund
Crenshaw received $16,500 in Big Oil and Gas PAC contributions by the end of his first two-year term.
August 26-September 1, 2008 FOLIO WEEKLY 19
Crenshaw’s Oil Stain
to more lumber harvesting. Crenshaw penalty and spend $5 million on environalso voted to de-authorize the “critical mental projects, the press release said.) habitat” provision of the Endangered Asked about Koch Industries, Neil Species Act of 1973, which inhibited big Armingeon, St. Johns Riverkeeper, was lumber’s advances. quick to note the company’s broad politiKoch’s holdings include Georgiacal influence, despite its dismal environPacific, which has created an environmen- mental record. “Koch supports righttal uproar in Northeast Florida for plans wing think tanks and espouses free to build a four-mile pipeline from its market policies while they line the pockPalatka paper mill to the St. Johns River. ets of politicians from Washington, D.C., The plant has been dumping its treated to Northeast Florida,” he says. “Polluters wastewater into nearby Rice Creek, a have learned that political contributions much smaller waterway, and violating fed- give them the right to place their people eral water quality standards in the process. into the regional directors’ positions.” The absence of any press coverage of Koch Industries also has a road-buildKoch’s ownership of Georgia-Pacific is a ing subsidiary, which would benefit from significant void, since Koch has a history what some see as a move by the Bush of disregard for environmental law. When Administration and conservatives to turn contacted, some prominent local environthe nation’s roads into a commodity to be mentalists were not even aware the mill is bought by private firms for a profit-maknow part of Koch. But Koch Industries ing system of toll roads, according to a has paid at least $50 million for Clean Air March 17, 2008 Washington Post report. and Water Act violations since 2000, A former Koch employee, D.J. Gribbin, according to “Unregistered Advocates,” a June 2006 report by A glossy mailer casts the Center For Public Integrity. A report by Source Watch found that Crenshaw as an architect of a those fees represent just a fraction of the total fines the company faced, grand alternative energy which totaled in the hundreds of strategy to make the nation millions. The company’s history prompted Media Transparency inves“free from dependence on tigative reporter Bill Berkowitz to foreign oil.” Crenshaw’s dub the Koch brothers “two of the nation’s worst environmental crimivoting record since he took nals.” Among Koch Industries’ office seven-and-a-half environmental crimes: • Releasing 91 metric tons of years ago tells quite a benzene, a highly toxic chemical strongly suspected as a cause of different story. leukemia, at their Corpus Christi refinery located across the street from a school. (The school was later the general counsel at the Federal Highrelocated.) A government indictment way Administration, wrote a report to charged Koch with failing to install Congress extolling the benefits of toll required emission control devices, and roads based on a study he commissioned then making false and misleading statewhile he worked at Koch. The study cited ments to conceal the extent of the nonideas by an Australian toll-road builder for compliance. Koch was fined $6 million. whom Gribbin once worked. The Post • Polluting the Dakota County noted the Gribbin family’s longtime ties to (Minn.) Park system between 1992 and the Republican Party, and that Gribbin’s 1997. A judge imposed a $2 million father was a longtime aide to Vice Presfine, the largest environmental fine in ident Dick Cheney at Halliburton. Minn. history. A Government Accounting Office • Discharging oil into Mississippi report released in February 2008 warned River wetlands. The company also admit- that tolls on privatized roads were ted dumping millions of gallons of generally higher than those under public ammonia-laden wastewater onto the control. But that hasn’t stopped talk of ground there in February 1997. new toll roads, including the planned • Leaking underground fuel at a Pine Outer Beltway in Clay and St. Johns Bend, Minn., refinery, threatening the counties. The road, which is being proMississippi and drawing a $6.9 posed as a toll highway, was given a glowmillion fine. ing write-up in the Aug. 10 Florida • Releasing 3 million gallons of crude Times-Union. oil into wetlands and shorelines of six states between 1990 and ’97. For that, Koch was assessed the largest civil penalty against a single company for violations of CRENSHAW’S FRIENDS the Clean Water Act according to a Jan. Over the years, Koch Industries has been 13, 2000 Environmental Protection very generous to Republicans who nudge Agency press release. (Koch agreed in a laws to suit their objectives. Those settlement to pay a $30 million civil Republicans include Crenshaw’s friends,
20 FOLIO WEEKLY August 26-September 1, 2008
who in turn have rewarded him, since he because it is a privately held company. arrived in Congress in 2001, with donaThe corporation contributes to the tions to his own campaign fund. Aspen Institute, which paid for two of Lobbying firms that represent Koch the 11 privately funded trips Crenshaw and other oil companies donated huge took between 2001 and 2005. Those sums to Crenshaw’s mentor, scandal-rid- outings helped put Crenshaw on the list den former House Speaker Tom DeLay. of most-traveled lawmakers. DeLay got $5,000 from the Koch IndusOne of the Koch brothers sits on the tries PAC (KochPAC) in 2002, and his board of the Mercatus Center at George former chief of staff, Ed Buckham, repMason University, which funded one of resented David and Charles Koch as a 19 trips made by now-jailed former lobbyist. Buckham’s firm gave Congressman Bob Ney, one of CrenCrenshaw’s ANDER PAC $1,000 in shaw’s travel buddies. Crenshaw and Ney 2004. Crenshaw also got donations and took a trip together, paid for by the PAC money from several other Buckham Ripon Education fund, whose founder is clients, including BellSouth, Eli Lilly, a lobbyist representing pharmaceutical R.J. Reynolds and United Parcel Service. giants, including Pfizer Inc. — one of (Buckham employed Tony Rudy, Crenshaw’s campaign contributors. And another DeLay aide, who pleaded guilty Crenshaw’s pal Congressman Blunt gave to a conspiracy involving convicted Ney $10,000 for his 2006 campaign bid. lobbyist Jack Abramoff.) Crenshaw’s close relationship In the summer of 2001, with these men didn’t end at the Capitol steps. In the summer of Crenshaw joined DeLay and 2001, he joined Buckham, DeLay and Ed Feulner — head Ed Feulner — head of the of the conservative Heritage conservative Heritage Foundation — and their spouses on a trip to a posh Malaysian Foundation — and their resort. An intertwining network spouses on a trip to a posh of right-wing groups, and individuals who are Crenshaw associMalaysian resort. ates, have lobbied on behalf of Malaysia’s sweatshop industries as well as oil interests. Feulner and Ken According to the “Unregistered AdvoSheffler, another Heritage associate who cates” report from the Center For Public made the trip to Malaysia with Crenshaw Integrity, “In 2005, Ney introduced a bill and DeLay, were principals in Belle to amend the Clean Air Act and require Haven Consultants. That company later the Secretary of Energy to construct 15 hired Buckham’s firm to represent the new gasoline refineries and sell them to government of Malaysia for $840,000 private businesses. Mercatus has sought to over 10 months, and Buckham put weaken the [Clean Air] Act and spoken of Feulner’s wife on the company payroll as the need for more refineries — both a consultant. scenarios that could benefit Koch Crenshaw has also benefited from Industries.” Among the right-leaning money spent by lobbyists and oil interests groups funded by Koch interests is the on his GOP cohorts — what might be Cato Institute, which is a strong advocate called the trickle-down effect. Crenshaw of public lands privatization. played a major role in delivering votes to Make no mistake. Crenshaw is a protect oil interests and polluters while major player in the pay-to-play network serving as an Assistant Whip and then in Washington, part of the reason this Deputy Whip, appointments arranged by nation has no energy plan, and part of DeLay and another Crenshaw mentor, the reason for high prices at the pump. Congressman Roy Blunt (who has Mad about gas prices? Mad about St. received $28,500 from KochPAC since Johns River pollution and assaults on the 2002). Blunt elevated Crenshaw to environment? Worried about paying for Deputy Majority Whip at the end of private road tolls in addition to high gas Crenshaw’s first two-year term, and prices? Send Crenshaw a message on Crenshaw got at least $6,248 from Blunt’s Election Day. PAC by the end of his third term. DeLay, a frequent Crenshaw travel companion, was central to lobbyist Jack Billee Bussard is a retired journalist and Abramoff’s influence-peddling racket. former campaign manager for Bob Harms, Media accounts and court records tell 2006 Democratic Party challenger for how Abramoff, now in federal prison, Crenshaw’s District 4 Congressional seat. relied on DeLay to take care of the special Her last cover story for Folio Weekly, “Porn, interests he represented by using DeLay’s Hypocrisy, Plagiarism: The Dark Side of network of team players in Congress. Jacksonville’s Daily,” can be viewed at A July 2004 report by the Center For altweeklies.com. Public Integrity found that the Koch oil barons rely on a network of right-wing think tanks and foundations to exert political influence, and that the conglomerate is able to dodge scrutiny
August 26-September 1, 2008 FOLIO WEEKLY 21
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