Tag Archives: T. Boone Pickens

T. Boone Pickens Dumps Nearly $19 Million into Yes on 10 Campaign

For the purposes of full disclosure again (I posted a message a few weeks back), I work for a non-profit consumer rights organization called the Consumer Federation of California. We are currently doing everything we can to defeat the “reprehensible scam” being perpetrated on California voters under the guise of Proposition 10.

So yes, I’m going to post this on other sites and forums because we are being outspent by Pickens and his fossil fuel corporate funders by over 100 to 1 in this campaign, and our ability to get the word out is limited. And yes, I will try and check back in this time to participate in any discussions this post might generate.

Now to the issue at hand: Has our ballot measure process been totally corrupted by big money interests? That’s the question we’re asking ourselves in the No on 10 campaign, as we saw oil tycoon and former swift boat funder T. Boone Pickens dump ANOTHER $4 million into the  Prop 10 campaign coffers last week. According to state records, Clean Energy Fuels Corporation (Pickens natural gas company) has now pumped nearly $19 million into this corporate greenwash, while we on No on 10 side has raised about $150,000.

Clean Energy Fuels is a small company that loses money every year. How can it afford to lavish $19 million on a ballot measure? The answer is simple: Instead of investing in research and development, Mr. Pickens’ Clean Energy is investing in buying an election. This massive political spending by a small company is proof that passage of Proposition 10 would be a bonanza for Mr. Pickens.

The central program in Prop 10 is a $2.5 billion giveaway to trucking companies to subsidize purchases of natural gas-fueled trucks. Trucks that qualify for rebates under Prop 10 are permitted to emit air pollution at levels identical to petroleum or diesel-fueled trucks. It is estimated that Prop 10 will increase natural gas vehicle sales in California by 500%. Most trucks subsidized by Prop 10 will fill up at Mr. Pickens’ gas stations.

Prop 10 EPITOMIZES how big money is distorting the political debate in this country to favor corporate interests over the public interest. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen such a blatant attempt by ONE CORPORATION seeking to enrich itself by bankrolling a ballot measure specifically geared to do this. As blatant and egregious as this scam is, we have had great difficulty to get the media interested in exposing this fraud – both in terms of Pickens the man, and Proposition 10 the measure.

Granted, every major environmental group in the state is opposed to it, as is every newspaper editorial board (I believe it’s somewhere around 34 editorials against, and 0 in support). Similarly, just about every known organization, from the far left to the far right has also recommended a “No” vote. In fact, the Yes side has NO organizational backing AT ALL!

So I guess the real question on November 4th is how will all this grassroots opposition compare to the over $20 million (so far…much more assuredly to come) being spent by the “Yes” side on all those slick and deceptive television and radio ads? It’s hard to turn the TV on without seeing a Yes on 10 ad claiming this $10 billion boondoggle will solve global warming and end our dependence on foreign oil

And just a reminder as to who Pickens really is and what motivates him: he’s not the friendly old renewable energy convert depicted in his “Pickens Plan” ads. In fact, the Huffington Post reported today that Pickens may even be selling off his wind turbines.  This is the man that was the primary funder of the false and slanderous attack ads against John Kerry by the Swift Boat Veterans of Truth in 2004 and who has an egregious legacy on the environment, and a long track record of conning communities and local governments into deals that benefit Pickens at the expense of the public. In fact, Pickens just said in an interview on 60 Minutes he has no regrets over the swift boat ads.  Now he’s set his sights on the natural gas market…and he’s using Prop 10 to do it.

So that’s I’m posting today, in hopes that we can both ignite a dialogue on the corrosive role of corporate money on the democratic process as well as convince everyone that is yet undecided to vote No on Prop 10.

We’re asking that everyone check out our No on 10 website www.noonproposition10.org and share it with as many people as you can and hyperlink it to your blogs or websites if possible. And if there are any good ideas out there as to how to reform the ballot measure process I’d love to hear those too.  

Prop 10: Building a Coalition of Everyone: Californians Against the Pickens Raid

Well it’s about time that some of California’s big groups got around to mentioning that Prop 10 is an enormous giveaway to T. Boone Pickens and the natural gas companies.  A bit later this morning (10AM to be precise), a big group of folks will be gathering on the West Steps of the Capitol to let T. Boone and the gang that he can’t raid our coffers so easily. They’re dubbing it the “Coalition of everyone.” And really, it is quite a diverse coalition, including the CA Labor Federation, CA Nurses Association, the CA Federation of Teachers, the League of Women Voters and the CA Chamber of Commerce.  

The group describes Prop 10 as “Texas oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens’ money grab at the taxpayers’ expense.” And, bingo, bango, bongo, that’s exactly what it is.  T. Boone, the leading funder of the Swiftboating of John Kerry in 2004.  Basically, Pickens wants the state to get thousands of natural gas cars on the road and help from the state to build a bunch of natural gas fueling stations.  How is it in our best interest to spend billions on a technology, while admittedly cleaner than gasoline, is an unrenewable fossil fuel? It’s searching for answers in the past.  We need to look forward to build a sensible renewable policy, not give away money to natural gas barons.

No on Prop 10!

T Boone Recommits to His Own Bailout

Capitol Alert reports that T. Boone Pickens, who has been pushing his own bailout plan, Prop 10, is sinking another $4 million to the Yes on 10 campaign:

T. Boone Pickens, the billionaire Texas oil tycoon behind Proposition 10, has doubled down on the alternative energy bond, plunging another $4 million into the measure through his company Clean Energy Fuels Corp.

Pickens’ company was already the largest financier of the ballot measure, having given $3.75 million to the campaign. The measure would provide $5 billion in rebates to help promote natural gas vehicles, the types of vehicles that could be Pickens’ company’s customers.

The rebates would be paid for through a general obligation bond, repaid by the state over 30 years.

Just as Goldman Sachs is using the US Treasury to bail itself and its allies out (h/t to jsw), T Boone is seeking to raid an already-stressed California budget to help boost his natural gas business. We’re already – and rightly – going to commit $10 billion in bond funds to Prop 1A, and even that is touch-and-go given public unease at the budget crisis and credit crunch. California cannot afford to give a handout to Oklahoma oil billionaires – we need to give that money to in-state, long-term, sustainable projects like high speed rail.

Prop 10 and T. Boone Pickens Raid on California Coffers

I was wondering if everyone was aware of California’s Prop 10 – a deceptively named initiative on the November ballot that seeks to authorize “$5 billion in bonds ($9.8 billion with interest), much of which would provide rebates to buyers of natural gas run vehicles. First off, environmental groups including the California League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club oppose Prop 10.

And for the purposes of full disclosure, I work for a non-profit consumer rights organization called the Consumer Federation of California. We started doing some research on Prop 10 and couldn’t believe what we found.

Most know about Texas oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens through his “Pickens Plan” ads. Many

don’t know that he was a primary funder of the false and slanderous attack ads against John Kerry by the Swift Boat Veterans of Truth in 2004, has an egregious legacy on the

environment, and a long track record of conning communities and local governments into deals that benefit Pickens at the expense of the public. Well, he’s set his sights on the natural gas market…and he’s using Prop 10 – a $10 billion Texas Boondoggle – to do it.

In fact, its T. Boone Pickens natural gas corporation that spent millions to get Prop 10 on the ballot and now is spending millions more to make sure it wins in November.

What’s amazing about this Proposition however, is how obvious an attempt it is to greenwash Californians in order to enrich the natural gas industry (and therefore Pickens). Prop 10 doesn’t require any clean air improvement, yet asks taxpayers to shell out $2.5 billion in subsidies to trucking companies to purchase so-called “clean” vehicles that can pollute every bit as much as diesel and gasoline powered trucks. Hybrids are not even considered “clean” under Prop 10.

The tax giveaways favor vehicles that fill up at his corporation’s fossil fuel stations and shortchange other cleaner technologies. Meanwhile, interstate trucking companies can collect California handouts of $50,000 per “clean” truck, and re-locate the trucks out of state. Prop 10’s California price tag: $10 billion.

The Bad News:

The non-profit coalition that opposes Prop 10 has almost no real campaign money, so we’re being outspent millions to one. T. Boone Pickens has received a free ride from the corporate media, and many voters believe it is “green” because of the slick ads promoting it..

So we’re asking that everyone check out our No on 10 website www.noonproposition10.org and share it with as many people as you can and hyperlink it to your blogs or websites if possible.

The Good News:

On top of the opposition from leading environmental organizations, all four of the state’s four major consumer right groups – TURN, UCAN, CFC, and Consumer Watchdog – are also opposed.

EVERY NEWSPAPER editorial board to date has blasted Prop 10 out of the water…with the Los Angeles Times calling it a “reprehensible scam”. Even the three major taxpayer rights groups – California Taxpayers Association, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, and the California Tax Reform Association – are opposed to Prop 10.

Hell, groups as diverse as the California Chamber of Commerce, the League of Women Voters, the California Federation of Teachers and the California Nurses Association even agree this is a sham.

The fact of the matter is Prop 10 is a corporate greenwash of the highest order…the question is will the truth beat out all their fossil fuel money?

See for yourself at www.noonproposition10.org


Prop 10: The T Boone Bailout

I will be on KRXA 540 AM at 8 this morning to discuss this and other California politics issues

One of the defining features of capitalism in the 21st century has been the arrogance of its most wealthy practitioners, now manifested by their belief that they’ll be bailed out and not forced to suffer any consequence for their criminally reckless bad judgment.

So it’s not just coincidence that as the financial robber barons of our time are demanding a massively unpopular bailout, another wealthy baron who made his money at the expense of Americans is seeking a bailout from California voters this November.

T. Boone Pickens is worth about $3 billion, a fortune amassed from his years as a corporate raider during the 1980s and his large stake in oil companies like ExxonMobil and Occidental.

Along the way he became a leading funder of right-wing causes, and was the primary backer of the notorious Swift Boat veterans, whose lie-filled ad against John Kerry helped swing the 2004 election to Bush. T. Boone promised he’d pay $1 million to anyone who could disprove the allegations, but reneged when John Kerry himself took him up on the offer.

T. Boone is seeing the handwriting on the wall for the oil economy, and wants to build up his natural gas business. Problem is, he wants to build up that business at our expense. He put Proposition 10 on the ballot and is spending his own money to run ads for it. Essentially he wants California taxpayers to bail him out to the tune of $5 billion.

The LA Times last week editorialized against Prop 10, explaining it and why it is such a bad idea. They call it a “reprehensible scam“:

This measure asks taxpayers to fund $5 billion in bonds — at a time when the state is in desperate financial straits and may be approaching a dangerous level of indebtedness — for a scheme disguised as an effort to benefit the environment. Yet its true aim is to subsidize vehicles powered by natural gas, which would build a customer base for its sponsor: Clean Energy Fuels Corp., a company Pickens co-founded that operates natural gas filling stations throughout the U.S. and Canada.

The measure generously doles out taxpayer money for a variety of green-sounding initiatives: $200 million for alternative energy demonstration projects at eight California cities, none of which are clamoring to perform them; $1.5 billion in grants and incentives for research and development of clean energy technologies and alternative fuel vehicles, a field that venture capitalists are already shoveling cash into; $250 million for renewable energy generation equipment. But the lion’s share of the bond money, $2.875 billion worth, goes for rebates on purchases of alternative fuel vehicles.

The rebates are structured so that only a small amount of money goes to truly environmentally beneficial vehicles, while most would subsidize those that run on natural gas.

The American public rightly opposes the Bush Bailout for Wall Street crooks. Why should Californians support a bailout for an already-wealthy oilman, one responsible for some of the most disgusting political lies of our time?

Truth Now on Arnold’s Prop 11 Redistricting Plan to Turn CA Red

(I’m not a big fan of Prop 11.  lindasutton does a good job of explaining the beast. – promoted by Brian Leubitz)

TRUTH NOW on Proposition 11…

… the fake redistricting reform brought to you by Gov. Schwarzenegger and his wrong-wing Republican gang

Want to live in a Red State? Want to have gridlock on redistricting in addition to the budget? Want to have the Republicans put in charge of “protecting” our coastline?

This is the reality of the so-called “Voters First” proposition being put on the ballot this year by Arnold and his Republican fat cat cronies. The only “voters” who are elevated will be the Republicans who are attempting to circumvent their declining registration statewide by fooling the voters into the idea that Prop 11 is “independent” and “non-partisan.” You’ve got to hand it to them. They come up with such good titles that mean exactly the opposite!!!

Under the guise of “reform,” proposition 11 creates a new state bureaucracy with an unlimited budget. This new drain on the state resources would essentially operate as a parallel second set of employees since a redistricting staff already exists in the state legislature. Along with the 14 member Citizens Redistricting Commission (paid $300 per day + expenses to attend a meeting), this new unlimited bureaucracy would include political staffers (civil-service exempt), private contractors, and private attorneys.

If this commission, stacked in the Republicans’ favor, does NOT reach agreement, and the rules ensure it will not, redistricting is handed to the California Supreme Court who appoints “special masters” to complete the boundary lines. NOTE that 6 of the 7 justices currently sitting on the court were appointed by Republican governors.

Few people can defend the bizarre configurations of our legislative districts that are currently under the direct control of our politicians. Often neighborhoods are split into “communities of interest,” and this is one of the arguments used in favor of this measure that will be on the ballot this November. But, the politicians ARE responsible for what they have done, and they CAN be held accountable by the voters. If Prop 11 passes, all accountability ends.

Proposition 11 sets up a convoluted maze to choose 14 commissioners. The restrictions on selection of applicants are such as to ensure their ignorance of the political process. Excluded are people who have been candidates for office within the last 10 years, or had a family member who was, anyone who has served on a political central committee, anyone who has been on a political staff or been a lobbyist, anyone contributing $2000 or more to a candidate, any staff people to elected officials or their relatives. Thus, the pool of applicants will be severely restricted to those who have the least possible experience dealing with the complex decisions they will be asked to make. Or, maybe not. Interestingly, politicos from the Republican institutes and think tanks are not excluded.

The maze begins with the State Auditor. You say, “Who?” Who, indeed. It’s not as though we’ve ever heard anything about this unelected state official. But now this unknown takes front and center stage and begins the Prop 11 process by choosing three so-called “independent” state auditors to oversee what follows. This is Step #1, in the multiple-step procedure laid out by this proposition.

For the record, the State Auditor is currently Elaine M. Howle. She is a POLITICAL appointee of the governor’s, selected from a list of three submitted to him by the state legislature. The State Auditor, however, is “accountable solely to the California Legislature” after appointment.

The next step (#2) proceeds by choosing from a pool of applicants 20 Democrats, 20 Republicans, plus 20 not in either major party. This formula bears NO relationship to the actual political party registration in the state which as of May 19, 2008  is 43.75% Democrat, 32.53% Republican, and 23.72% all others. The losers here are obviously the Democrats who have gained a substantial margin in registration and would now be required to forfeit that plurality.

Moving on to Step #3, the state party leaders (only Dems and Reps now) get veto power. The President pro Tempore of the Senate, the Minority floor leader of the Senate, the Speaker of the Assembly, and the Minority Floor Leader may EACH strike up to two applicants from each sub-pool of 20 for a total of eight possible strikes per sub-pool. So, the whittled down lists of possibly only 12 Dems+12 Reps+12 Others now go back to the State Auditor.

In Step #4, The State Auditor is to draw random names from the pool submitted by the previous step, and they become the first 8 on the Citizens Redistricting Commission. There are to be 3 from the largest political party (Dems), 3 from the second largest political party (Reps), and 2 from all others. Again, the LOSER on this cozy little split is the Democrats who AGAIN forfeit their significant voter registration plurality to…guess who???  The REPUBLICANS.

Now to Step #5, and if you’ve zoned out by now, well, that IS the point. But, please stay for the finale. The 8 from step #4 review the names in the remaining pool from which they had been drawn, supposedly randomly, and now themselves APPOINT 6 more. These are to be evenly split: 2 Dems/2 Reps/2 Others. Each one of these must then be approved by 5 votes of the existing 8 commissioners with a required 2 each from each major party and 1 other. And there you have it, the FOURTEEN who have made it through this convoluted sieve and are now charged, on paper, with redrawing the district lines after each decade’s census. And again, the losing party is scheduled to be the Democratic Party that holds the greatest voter registration in the state.

By now you’re probably wondering IF those 14 will even have the expertise to know where to begin! But, not to worry. At the end of the text of this ballot measure, glossed over in the ballot summary, we find the fine print detailing all the undisclosed new expenditures of this ill-conceived boondoggle, and you’re welcome to read it yourself: http://www.sos.ca.gov/election…

“The commission shall hire commission staff, legal counsel and consultants as needed.” These employees shall be EXEMPT from civil service requirements, which means they will be POLITICAL appointees. Civil service would have meant appointment under a general system based on merit ascertained by competitive examination (CA Constitution Article VII:  http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/.con… And, listen to this, ONLY ONE of those hired as legal counsel needs to have “extensive experience and expertise in implementation and enforcement of the federal Voting Rights Act.”

There are NO LIMITS on number of staff, consultants, or legal counsel. There’s also no limit on the funding that the governor submits for this new bureaucracy created through Prop 11 OR for the “statewide outreach program” that is to be set up “to solicit broad public participation” —  public relations events.  Be assured, however, that there is planned fiscal oversight, from the GOVERNOR’S Department of Finance!!!

The greatest travesty is the gridlock built into the commission by a requirement of 9 votes to approve final maps. These votes must be evenly split between Democrats/Republicans/ and Others. Can anyone who has watched state government in recent years even imagine agreement? This is where the Republican-appointed State Supreme Court steps in to dictate the final maps.

If Proposition 11 passes, and it WILL if people do not read more than the title and blurb provided by the Secretary of State,  there will be a huge faucet of state funds funneled to private consultants and attorneys, overseen by political appointee staff and citizen commissioners paid $300+expenses per meeting, and Republicans will be in charge.

And this is being sold to voters as an improvement??? THIS is reform??? Certainly there will be the well-connected who will profit from this new bureaucracy, but it’s not going to be the average taxpayer who will again be stuck with the bill for this privatization of the redistricting process. And the Democrats, who have gained significantly in voter registration, again will be stymied by this seizure of power by the Republican elite.

We now move to the more interesting part — the financing of this interesting excursion into the redistricting wonderland. WHO would be funding this?

Turns out that anyone who wants to check into the FUNDERS of any of the propositions OR candidates can do so quite easily through our Secretary of State’s website. From the main page, click on “political reform” on the top bar, then find the link for http://cal-access.sos.ca.gov/ part way down that page.

I’ve done this and you would not believe WHO is there!! How about New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg to the tune of $250,000! And there’s Boone Pickens, the Texas oil tycoon, for $100,000. And CEO’s and Chairs abound. I wonder if the shareholders of these companies know where the profits go. From Williams Sonoma –W. Howard Lester, $250,000; from Guess–Maurice Marciano $25,000; from Trust Company of the West–Robert Day $100,000; from Charles Schwab–$100,000; from the Gap–Donald Fisher $50,000; from PIMCO–William Powers $100,000; from Netflix founder Reed Hastings $147,307.01; from Rick Caruso, RE Development, $100,000; from the LA Chamber of Commerce, $32,500. Then there is the New Majority California PAC (more on this follows) with $175,000. Here’s where you check out the donor list:  http://cal-access.sos.ca.gov/C…

And that’s just from under the first listed committee, California Voters First, #1299492, that is supporting the measure. They report $4,826,382.01 received for only the first 6 months of 2008. http://cal-access.sos.ca.gov/C…

Additional donors, insurance companies, land developers, etc., are tucked away under what is called the New Majority California PAC (a major donor to Voters First) here:


Homebuilder William Lyon kicked in $8,000; the Irvine Company $8000; Bank of America PAC $5600; Heritage Development $8000; Robert Follman of RA Industries $8000; Robert Grimm of Strategic Financial $8000; Stephen Fry of Fry Steel $8000;  Yokohl Ranch $8000; Horowitz Management $8000. (David Horowitz, that is, who is also within Voters First with an additional $5000); Marion Knott Montapert $8000 (another multiple donor with an additional $2000 disclosed within Voters First too); William E. Simon $8000; Syd Liebovitch of Rodeo Realty $5000.

But for those research wonks you really want to go for it, please check out the New Majority California PAC EXPENDITURES here: http://cal-access.sos.ca.gov/C…

This is where you find the actual FUNDING of petition gathering by Kimball Petition Management for Voters First (indeed), the Republican Governors Association donations, the contributions to Gov Scharzenegger’s committees, various Republican county parties, mailers for Bernard Parks (candidate for LA County supervisor), and $10,000 for KARL ROVE!!!

For those of you who have gotten this far, I have a challenge. Within the California Voters First PAC, Governor Schwarzenegger’s Dream Team is listed multiple times for both in-kind and monetary contributions…$280,000 here, $300,000 there…get the idea? Try to figure the total in millions and call his office to ask what each of these contributions represented. I’m curious and have simply run out of time. I also suspect many who were behind Arnold’s failed Prop 77 in 2005 are behind this new incarnation.

What I am certain of is that this proposition #11 is as “fair and balanced” as Fox News. This is yet another one of these “by the rich and for the rich” propositions being marketed by the high priced Republican propagandists to harried voters. Democrats living in the Red Zones are particularly vulnerable, since they are hoping this will benefit them. It won’t. It also only applies to STATE districts, and NOT to Congressional districts.

Expect the Republicans will be continuously pounding the airwaves with their lies using credible-looking endorsements from credible sounding “good government” organizations and people.

Don’t fall for it. Vote NO on PROP 11 and keep the politicians directly accountable for these critical decisions. As bad as some of them have been in the past, this certainly is not a viable alternative. The Republicans are attempting to circumvent their continuous losses in registration over the last Bush years. Don’t let them do it. VOTE NO ON PROP 11 and pass this around.

© 2008, Linda Sutton

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