John Carter, Disclosure, and Big Oil

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:53 am by profsteed

The word is starting to get around. It turns out the front-man for the GOP’s attack on Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY), regarding Rangel’s financial disclosure problems, actually has some pretty hefty disclosure problems of his own. That’s right: it has been revealed that Rep. John Carter (R-Hypocrisyland) — who has been after Rangel for a year, and has been able to talk about almost nothing other than Rangel and disclosure ethics for the past 3-4 months — failed himself to report about $300,000 in profits on his 2006 & 2007 disclosure forms. After months of listening to Carter’s self-righteous indignation over Rangel’s ethics troubles, there’s really only one thing to say:

Pot, meet kettle. (Oh, snap!)

Nevermind that there have been plenty of other topics worthy of greater concern lately. Health care reform. Climate change legislation. Afghanistan. Iraq. Guantanamo. Jobs, unemployment, the economy. Despite all these, er…distractions…Carter has maintained a disciplined, myopic focus — with laser-like intensity — on Charlie Rangel. For those of you who don’t know, the principal complaint against Rangel is that he failed to disclose and pay taxes on income.

Ahem. *Cough.*

That’s right. Carter has been going all-out after Rangel — for a year - for his failure to disclose assets and income. Yet all the while, Carter himself has been failing to disclose his own hundreds-of-thousands-of-dollars in income.

Precious, isn’t it?

But wait, it gets better. You see, Carter’s income has a special source. Being an old-time Texas man, Carter holds a bunch of stock in Big Oil. In fact, Carter holds between $1 million and $5 million in Exxon Mobil stock. (We can’t determine a more accurate figure, because disclosure forms only require disclosure within this range.) That makes Carter the 2nd-biggest stockholder in Big Oil, in the entire House of Representatives.

You would think this would’ve raised some eyebrows a long time ago. After all, Congress casts a lot of votes on matters having to do with energy and the oil industry. Doesn’t Carter’s personal wealth — which is almost entirely in Big Oil — create a conflict of interest when it comes time for him to vote? How can he vote in the public interest when his own personal interests are so…um…calculable? As an ex-judge, Carter should be especially attuned to this conflict-of-interest concern. No? After all, judges recuse themselves from cases all the time, for similar conflicts of interest.

Not to worry! Why? Because a Carter spokesperson has assured us that this is all “no big deal.” Seriously, that has been the extent of Carter’s response.

Phew. Crisis averted. I feel better. Don’t you?

Still, though, maybe a quick look at Carter’s voting record wouldn’t hurt.

Let’s see. For starters, it is to be expected that Carter voted against the landmark Clean Energy and Security Act (aka the “Waxman-Markey” bill), which passed the House recently by a narrow margin. Of course he opposed that. True, any push for clean energy is bad for the oil industry. But most GOPers voted against that bill, so maybe Carter’s personal fortune had nothing to do with his vote. Right?

Carter also, of course, voted in favor of the Bush Administration’s Big Giveaway to oil companies, the Energy Policy Act of 2005. And he has, of course, expressed support for the GOP’s American Energy Act — which GOPers like to call an “all of the above” energy bill, but that’s really just code for preferencing “traditional” energy sources (more drilling for oil) over alternative energy sources (which move us away from oil). Carter even voted against the wildly popular and wildly successful Cash for Clunkers program. Why? Well…those old clunkers do use more gas, and that means they keep the demand for oil higher. No sense pulling them off the roads, right? Of course!

And there’s more. (Of course.) According to On the Issues, Carter’s record on oil/energy issues looks like this:

  • Voted NO on enforcing limits on CO2 global warming pollution. (Jun 2009)
  • Voted NO on tax credits for renewable electricity, with PAYGO offsets. (Sep 2008)
  • Voted NO on tax incentives for renewable energy. (Feb 2008)
  • Voted NO on investing in homegrown biofuel. (Aug 2007)
  • Voted YES on criminalizing oil cartels like OPEC. (May 2007)
  • Voted NO on removing oil & gas exploration subsidies. (Jan 2007)
  • Voted NO on keeping moratorium on drilling for oil offshore. (Jun 2006)
  • Voted YES on scheduling permitting for new oil refinieries. (Jun 2006)
  • Voted YES on authorizing construction of new oil refineries. (Oct 2005)
  • Voted YES on passage of the Bush Administration national energy policy. (Jun 2004)
  • Voted YES on implementing Bush-Cheney national energy policy. (Nov 2003)
  • Rated 0% by the CAF, indicating opposition to energy independence. (Dec 2006)

You’ll note — of course — that every single one of these actions represents a pro-Big Oil position. In fact, I haven’t been able to find a single vote by John Carter that could be construed as “unfriendly” toward the Big Oil industry. In short, it would be pretty hard to find anyone in the House of Representatives who is a better friend to the oil industry than John Carter. And why wouldn’t he be? He stands to personally profit off of every one of these votes. To the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Last summer, when gas prices were super-high and Sarah Palin was leading crowds chanting “Drill, baby, drill,” where was Mr. Carter? With the Palin crowd, of course. Here’s what he was saying in August 2008: “We are proposing that we come back into session and have an up or down vote on an energy package that includes everything including drilling for additional oil and gas.”

Surprise, surprise. After all, this was back when Carter was walking away with $300,000 in unreported income from the sale of ExxonMobil stock.

Oh, and it was just before he started going after Rangel for…um…failing to report income.

There are three REALLY big problems here. One is Carter’s base hypocrisy in vilifying Rangel for the very same thing that Carter himself is guilty of. Another is Carter’s nondisclosure itself, which is obviously an ethics problem regardless of the hypocrisy surrounding it. And the third — perhaps the biggest of the three — is Carter’s gargantuan conflict of interest, as a Congressman who casts dozens, maybe hundreds of votes on energy/oil matters while holding millions of dollars of stock in Big Oil.

Yet, amazingly (or not), Rep. John Boehner still thinks Carter is the “appropriate” guy to lead the GOP’s charge against Rangel. Tells you a little something about the GOP these days, doesn’t it?

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