Today, The New York Times ran an investigative piece uncovering a thick, multi-layered corruption scene, honing in on one man: U.S. Rep. Dan Boren (D-OK). Boren, many will recall, is one of the original co-sponsors of H.R. 1380, the NAT GAS Act, also known as the Pickens Plan, which would given tax credits to natural gas vehicles - the bigger the vehicle the more tax credits recieved.
As I have covered on numerous occasions, the NAT GAS Act was written by and for the trio of energy magnate T. Boone Pickens; Pickens' long-time business partner and President and CEO of Clean Energy Fuels Corp., Andrew Littlefair; and Chesapeake Energy's CEO Aubrey McClendon. I coined the three a “self-enriching trifecta.”
Boren, as revealed by the Times, has served for years as a useful pawn for the unconventional gas industry insiders, or what the Occupy movement has rightfully coined the “one-percent.”
“As Gas Riches Remake Plains, Lawmaker Shares in Bounty,” the NYT article written by Eric Lipton, reveals many important ties between Boren and the gas industry which he is dutifully serving as a “public servant.”
Among the more shocking (but not so shocking) revelations:
- Boren's “income has jumped in the last six years, thanks to two family businesses he partly owns that have signed more than 300 mineral leases, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Many of those deals are with Chesapeake Energy, a top donor to his campaigns.”
- “Mr. Boren is one of 13 family members who share in the proceeds, earning between $120,000 and $1.1 million last year, according to his financial disclosure report, and between $450,000 and $2.6 million since he was first elected.”
- “Mr. Boren was among the 41 House Democrats who joined Republicans in 2005 to pass legislation that largely prohibited the federal government from regulating fracking under the Safe Water Drinking Act…”
- “The coordination between Mr. Boren and the Independent Petroleum Association of America has been particularly close, ties that were only enhanced last year when his legislative director, Wendy Kirchoff, left to become one of the group’s top lobbyists. Of the 32 significant votes it has lobbied Congress on since 2005, Mr. Boren has taken the association’s side 31 times.”
- “Three times in the last three years, Mr. Boren co-sponsored legislation drafted with Mr. Pickens that would create billions of dollars in federal incentives for companies to build or buy trucks fueled by natural gas. It would also benefit a company, Clean Energy Fuels, in which Mr. Pickens is the single biggest investor.”
- “During his career, Mr. Boren has received more than $690,000 from the oil and gas industry, and in the 2010 election cycle, he took in more than any other House Democrat from industry executives, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.”
The story of Boren is not something out of the ordinary in American politics, though. It is, in fact, the norm, spanning the gamut of political issues and on both sides of the aisle, and a perfect depiction of American political corruption at work.