AR-01: Why One Crawford Donor Should Give You Pause

    One of my favorite clichéd bits of wisdom is “tell me about your friends, and I will tell you about yourself.” (I am also partial to never get less than twelve hours sleep, never play cards with a guy who has the same first name as a city, and never get involved with a woman with a tattoo of a dagger on her body; now you stick to that, and everything else is cream cheese, but that’s not really relevant to this post.)

    I thought of that “friends” cliché today when perusing Rick Crawford’s political donors. While many of the people who donate to a campaign are not friends in the traditional sense, you can often extrapolate something about the candidate based on who feels the need to give him money. Which is why the following jumped out at me:

    Jan Rees-Jones        6/21/2010   1000.00
    5956 Sherry Lane Suite 1500
    Dallas, Texas 75225
    
    Trevor Rees-Jones     6/21/2010   1000.00
    5956 Sherry Lane Suite 1500
    Dallas, Texas 75225

    Who is Trevor Rees-Jones, you ask? He’s the president of Chief Oil & Gas, LLC, out of Dallas, Texas. He is also, to date, the largest contributor to Karl Rove’s little pet PAC project, American Crossroads.

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    A Texas natural gas magnate last month gave $1 million to American Crossroads, a new 527 group conceived by Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie to boost Republicans headed into the 2010 midterm elections.

    The contribution, from Trevor Rees-Jones, president of Chief Oil and Gas, a privately held energy company in Dallas, was the only significant contribution made in April to the new group, according to a report it filed Thursday with the Internal Revenue Service.

    [***]

    American Crossroads — which is one of an overlapping network of new groups on the right trying to mimic the extra-party infrastructure built by the left during the Bush years — hopes to raise $52 million to assist 2010 Republican candidates by airing ads supporting them and knocking their Democratic opponents, and through voter contact.

    [***]

    American Crossroads is targeting major GOP donors who had become less generous with their political checks as the Bush administration wound down and many expressed displeasure at both the McCain and the post-Bush Republican National Committee.

    [***]

    Rove and Gillespie, key political players in the Bush-era GOP, are serving as informal advisers to American Crossroads and are helping to raise money for it and other groups in the network.

    A Texas oil-and-gas billionaire funding Republican initiatives? Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie involved? I feel like we’ve been down this road before.

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    Yes. Yes, we definitely have been down this road. In fact, I recognize it from the trampled civil liberties, ongoing wars, and economic woes strewn along both sides.

    But there’s more. In what could be construed as evidence of his being in favor of a return to Bush-era politics, Rees-Jones’s company is apparently not a big fan of abiding by environmental protection regulations.

    The Marcellus Shale lies under about two-thirds of the state. Drilling, initially concentrated in southwestern Pennsylvania, has migrated steadily to the northeast.

    Though inspectors visited Marcellus well sites in 29 counties, five counties accounted for 413 of the 565 violations: Bradford, Tioga, Lycoming, Susquehanna, and Potter, all in north-central Pennsylvania.

    Five of 37 operators accounted for half the violations: Chief Oil & Gas L.L.C., Talisman Energy USA Inc., East Resources Inc., Chesapeake Energy Corp., and Seneca Resources Corp.

    Chief Oil & Gas, which experienced a serious well explosion in West Virginia in June that injured seven workers, topped the list, with 78 violations this year.

    Kristi Gittins, a spokeswoman for Chief, based in Dallas, said the DEP’s tally did not distinguish between serious or administrative violations, like not having proper paperwork on a well site.

    [***]

    While Chief racked up 78 violations at 22 well sites – a ratio of 3.5 violations per well – Range Resources, the most active Marcellus operator, had 12 violations on 77 wells drilled this year, an average of 0.16 violations per well.

    Hmm … a guy whose oil & gas company has a ton of violations while drilling for natural gas in Pennsylvania shale donates to the Republican candidate for Congress in another state from the congressional district that has the majority of that state’s shale gas plays? Interesting.

    If I were the cynical type, I might also point out that Rees-Jones waited until after the primary to donate, almost as if he wanted to see who the candidate was before he donated. And, were I the cynical type, I might then wonder what it was about Rick Crawford that made the oil-and-gas magnate think “hmm, now here’s a guy I can get behind.”

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