POLITICS

Scandal-plagued nuke power giant underwrites Obama re-elect to the tune of $10 million

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Timothy P. Carney

Duke Energy is the biggest nuclear power company in America. It is also one of the most vocal advocates of an Al Gore-style cap-and-trade scheme for greenhouse gasses, and the company's CEO, Jim Rogers, thinks the company will profit from cap-and-trade.

That makes it a bit fishy when Rogers pledges to raise $32 million for the 2012 Democratic National Convention -- which is, in effect, a four-day pep rally for Obama's reelection. But even fishier is Rogers' promise -- now set in stone in a contract -- to use Duke Energy corporate money to finance the convention.

The Charlotte Observer reports "Duke Energy Corp., whose CEO is leading the fundraising for the Democratic National Convention, is guaranteeing a $10 million line of credit for the event."

Basically, a commercial bank is offering a $10 million credit card to the DNC, and Duke Energy is promising to pay off the card if the DNC cannot.

That's right: a nuclear power company, which lobbies for and stands to profit from a major Democratic policy initiative, is using corporate money to finance a major part of Obama's campaign.

But I should bring up some other stuff about Duke Energy and its relations with government:

  • Some in Congress are reacting to the Japan nuclear-plant explosions and meltdowns by calling for a slowdown in the approval of new nuke plants -- at the moment Duke has new plants pending.
  • There's a push in Indiana to force Rogers to testify in a corruption probe regarding contacts between Duke officials (including Rogers) and state regulators.
  • Rogers has picked up Obama's "Win The Future" talk. In a recent speech, he offered up nuggets like:  

The only way to get our mojo back as a country is through innovation, drive, and creativity, and that's what purpose-driven capitalism can do...

Purpose-driven capitalism is really an old-idea in a new suit. It's the recognition that business has a role to play in society beyond simply driving shareholder returns. Business serves a wide array of stakeholders, from customers and employees, to business partners, the government, and our communities. And I believe the true value of a business can only be measured in relation to its impact on its wide array of stakeholders, not just earnings per share.

This story -- and Duke's coziness with the Obama adminstration -- hasn't gotten as much attention as I bet it would if it were an oil company and a GOP convention. And huge corporate donations to conventions has long been a gaping loophole in "campaign finance reform"  -- one that Republicans typically exploit better than Democrats. But still, this is not the "people's convention" Obama promised -- nor the good government he said we all deserved.

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