August 19, 2000
The Bush Family "Oiligarchy"
Part Three: Politics & Oil -- The Sequel
Page 1, 2
Big Oil Pumps in Money
In return for George W.’s continued political support, the oil industry has played a prominent role in funding Bush's two gubernatorial races and now his presidential candidacy. Of the $41 million Bush raised in two gubernatorial races, $5.6 million (14 percent) came from the energy and natural resources industries. [AP, April 3, 2000]
The oil and gas industry has extended its support for the Texas governor to his presidential bid, donating 15 times more money to Bush than to his Democratic opponent, Al Gore. As of June 20, Bush had raised $1,463,799 from the oil industry to Gore's $95,460, according to opensecrets.org [July 26, 2000]. Of the top-ten lifetime contributors to George W.’s political war chests, six either are in the oil business or have ties to it. [See George W. Bush: Top 25 Career Patrons, The Buying of the President 2000, Center for Public Integrity, http://www.publicintegrity.org/reports/bop2000/bush_patrons.htm .]
George W.’s chairman of his campaign’s finance committee is Donald Evans. According to The Austin Chronicle, Evans is “perhaps the governor’s closest friend” and has known George W. for three decades since their Midland days together. Evans is also CEO of Tom Brown Inc., an oil and gas company with the bulk of its production in Wyoming. Evans helped pioneer the Pioneers, a group of Bush financial supporters who have each raised at least $100,000.
In 1995, Bush rewarded Evans by appointing him to the University of Texas Board of Regents, one of the most “powerful patronage” jobs in Texas. Evans rose to chairman of the board. With an annual budget of $5.4 billion and more than 76,000 employees, the Texas university system is one of the largest in the country. The Texas University Board of Regents also manages an investment portfolio of more than $14 billion. [The Austin Chronicle, March 17, 2000]
George W., like his father before him, also brought his Texas oil financial connections to Washington to help national Republican fundraising efforts. In May, Ray Hunt, chairman and CEO of Hunt Oil Co., was named finance chairman of the Republican National Committee’s Victory 2000 Committee. Based in Dallas, Hunt Oil is an independent, private company that is among the top dozen independent oil companies in the United States. [Cox News, May 10, 2000]
Richard Kinder and Kenneth Lay, the former and current CEOs of Houston-based Enron Corp., also rank as two of Bush’s top contributors. Both are members of Bush’s Pioneers and have been longstanding financial benefactors behind Bush’s political career. By the end of 1999, funders connected to Enron had contributed $90,000 to the Bush presidential campaign, the fourth largest bundle at the time. [Boston Globe, Oct. 3, 1999]
Enron, a company worth $61.5 billion, is the No. 1 buyer and seller of natural gas and the top wholesale power marketer in the United States. As governor, George W. has embraced energy deregulation, an initiative on which Enron has led the field of competitors.
In 1997, one Enron facility in Pasadena, Texas, released 274,361 pounds of toxic waste. In many states, this would rank as one of the top toxic pollution emitters, but not in Texas, where nearly 262 million pounds of toxic waste were released into the environment in 1997, the most in the country. [EPA TRI data, 1997]