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The Party of Big Business

Mar 11, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 25 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
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A few years ago, the Democratic party bragged that it had adopted new rules barring corporate and individual donations over $100,000. Because of these rules, Democrats called their convention in Charlotte last year the “people’s convention.” However, just to make sure they had the money to fund the convention, the DNC secured a $10 million credit line from Duke Energy Corporation. And as it happens, Duke’s CEO headed up the party’s fundraising efforts for the convention. The DNC host committee for the convention insisted it did not intend to tap this credit line, but a month after the convention took place, the DNC had raised just $24.1 million of the $36.6 million it pledged to raise in order to pay for the convention. 

Duke CEO James E. Rogers

Duke CEO James E Rogers

Newscom

Last week, the Charlotte Observer reported that Duke Energy was making shareholders foot a $6 million bill to pay for the convention, in violation of the much-touted DNC rules on campaign donations. The election is over and Obama won, so the DNC probably isn’t going to be terribly contrite about its hypocritical posturing. The bigger issue is that Duke Energy is no benign corporate influence. 

Duke Energy is one of the most active members of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership. About half the electricity the company supplies comes from traditional coal-fired plants; the other half comes from nuclear power. The Obama administration’s punishing policies for traditional energy sources have made Duke’s nuclear plants—which don’t emit any greenhouse gases—much more valuable, and most of the company’s coal-powered energy plants are in areas where they have a government-enforced monopoly. They can just pass extra costs on to consumers who will have to pay higher rates or go without electricity. Duke also has growing windmill and green energy interests, and they rake in the green energy subsidies that Democrats are so fond of distributing. Did we mention Duke Energy’s CEO, Jim Rogers, is a former Enron executive? 

The Scrapbook wonders if it’s a coincidence that the State Department announced its tentative approval for building the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta to Texas the same day that Duke Energy announced it was picking up the DNC’s tab. Supplying America with cheap oil from Canada might just make Duke’s green energy portfolio that much less valuable. (Though it should be noted the State Department’s approval is based on a preliminary draft of an environmental report—so far, five federal environmental studies have been done in 54 months without yet granting final approval. The Canadian government approved the pipeline in six months.) 

Finally, it was reported in January that the DNC still owes $15 million to Amalgamated Bank of New York, which is majority owned by the Service Employees International Union, one of the party’s largest donors and an organization with its own strident agenda. Democrats may say they want corporations and special interests subject to new campaign finance laws, but it turns out they actually win campaigns by letting those same groups pick up the tab.

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