Saturday, January 21, 2012

John Boehner's Keystone XL conflict of interest

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By Joan McCarterFollow

The Washington Post had a long report on the two sides of the Keystone XL debate this weekend. With the deadline for decision Republicans forced into the temporary payroll tax cut bill approaching, this will be a popular storyline in the next few weeks. This side says versus that side says.
But on page two of this story is a bit of a bombshell from the reporter, Juliet Eilperin.
In the meantime, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) launched a “countdown clock” that ticks off the time until the permitting deadline expires and posted a video on YouTube that touts the pipeline as a chance to create jobs with private investment. Playing off Obama’s mantra of “We Can’t Wait,” the video flashes phrases across the screen including, “We Can’t Wait for Leadership. We Can’t Wait for Jobs.” 
Environmentalists note that in December 2010, according to Boehner’s financial disclosure forms, he invested $10,000 to $50,000 each in seven firms that had a stake in Canada’s oil sands, the region that produces the oil the pipeline would transport. The firms include six oil companies—BP, Canadian Natural Resources, Chevron, Conoco Phillips, Devon Energy and Exxon—along with Emerson Electric, which has a contract to provide the digital automation for the first phase of a $9.4 billion Horizon Oil Sands Project in Canada. 
Bill McKibben, a climate activist and co-founder of the group, wrote in an e-mail that Boehner has received more than $1 million from fossil-fuel companies, “and now we find out that he’s got extensive personal investments in companies dependent on tarsands oil.”

“He was willing to shut down the government in part to prevent enough time for serious environmental review,” McKibben added. “In any other facet of our public life . . . this whole list taken together would be seen for the gross conflict of interest that it is.”
Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said in an interview that an investment adviser chooses Boehner’s financial investments. “He doesn’t have any control over day-to-day trades, so there’s no conflict of interest on this or any other investment,” Steel said of the speaker, adding that when it comes to the upcoming decision on Keystone XL, “We hope the president will do the right thing and approve the permit, and create American jobs.”
So, right. Boehner is completely oblivious to the fact that he stands to profit handily from the project, should it go forward, because he didn't chose these investments, an adviser did. That's really believable. And completely irrelevant to the fact that he would profit from the project, and since his investment is public knowledge, he knows he would profit. The idea that that isn't a conflict of interest is laughable.

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