Report: Kitzhaber & Environment misdeeds

whitsett-doug-senatorState Senator Doug Whitsett,

Our previous article warned of the expectation for crony capitalism in President Obama’s “Clean Power Plan.” We noted his scheme was planned behind closed doors and beyond public scrutiny. We explained it was implemented through executive administrative fiat, and was designed with the specific purpose of causing higher energy costs for working Americans.

Those concerns were confirmed with the recent release of a 57-page report entitled “Private Interests and Public Office: Coordination between Governors, the Obama White House and the Tom Steyer-‘Founded and Funded’ Network of Advocacy Groups to Advance the ‘Climate’ Agenda.” The report was compiled by the Energy & Environment Legal Institute, and was the product of public records requests made in multiple states, including Oregon. It should be required reading for caring Oregonians.

The report explains in great detail how Obama’s plan was developed largely through the efforts of former Governor John Kitzhaber, his staff and girlfriend Cylvia Hayes. In fact, an entire section of the report is devoted to the purported misdeeds of Hayes and Kitzhaber. Unfortunately, little has changed since he resigned in disgrace last February pursuant to allegations of influence peddling and multiple ongoing federal investigations.

Among the most disturbing revelations:

• Obama’s former campaign operation, “Organizing for America,” was used as the model for designing and promoting this energy policy agenda. It included the use of private funding to underwrite third-party “orchestrators” assigned to build support at the state level. The report explains how funding for the project was primarily provided by billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, former New York Mayor and billionaire Michael Bloomberg and the Rockefeller Brothers.

• As might be expected, political pressure was brought to bear by coalitions of environmental groups in states with Democratic governors. But the report exposes the plan’s audacity to recruit and “creatively engage” investor owned utilities (IOUs) for the purpose of exerting political pressure to support the Plan in states with Republican governors.  IOUs with service areas encompassing both Democrat and Republican controlled states were specifically selected.

• The report illustrates in some detail how direct participation, by entities and investors that would stand to benefit from the Obama clean energy policies, was deliberately hidden from the public. For instance, it states that Steyer’s extensive network of nonprofit organizations was used “in close coordination with his investment company.” State-level “orchestrators” were selected as persons who would be “closely tied to each governor.” Orchestrators are to be paid by backers “who had or who had created one or two degrees of separation from the obvious appearance of having ‘an angle being played’ with the agenda.”

In addition to Kitzhaber and Hayes, other figures who once occupied Oregon’s executive branch were mentioned throughout the report. They include Margi Hoffman, who was Kitzhaber’s energy advisor and still is an energy advisor for Governor Kate Brown.  Kitzhaber’s former chief of staff, Curtis Robinhold, is also included. He was among several former Kitzhaber administration officials listed in the sweeping federal subpoena that was issued last February as part of the criminal investigations into alleged influence peddling.

Explained in detail throughout the report is the role of Dan Carol, who was also prominently included in the subpoena. Carol first made news in Oregon when it was revealed that Kitzhaber hired him as the highest-paid member of his staff. The hiring took place soon after Carol allegedly arranged an $118,000 fellowship for Hayes with the Washington D.C.-based Clean Economy Development Center. The subpoena specifically mentions that entity as well.

The report describes how Hayes and Carol held weekly Monday telephone conferences regarding “Dan’s” agenda. It states that Hayes participated in similar weekly calls regarding the Pacific Coast Collaborative Action Plan on Climate and Energy, which is also named in the federal subpoena. According to the report, Carol “was not only the pivot-man for Hayes’ arrangement, but also the principal in-house organizer for the governors’ ‘core group.’” It describes how Carol copied various core governors’ aides and Steyer on e-mails. That “core group” included at least 13 state governors in the spring of 2014.

The extent to which the purveyors of this agenda went out of their way to hide their actions from public scrutiny is perhaps the most shocking aspects of this report.  Aides to governors, involved in developing and implementing this plan, admitted in various e-mail threads that there would be severe negative political consequences if details of the plan were ever made public. One line of the report reads that “keeping details about this plan from the public—specifically until at least after the elections—were a paramount consideration.”

It is also alleged in the report that public offices in California, Kentucky and Virginia deliberately stonewalled records requests. Some offices invoked blanket privilege to block the release of records. Others retroactively claimed that documents did not exist. Both the fact that they did exist, and much of their incriminating content, was discovered by examining the records of e-mails received pursuant to freedom of information requests from other parties.

Even after Kitzhaber’s abrupt departure from office, the impacts of this widespread national agenda are being felt in Oregon.

Negotiations took place during the 2015 regular session for a comprehensive transportation package. I was among the eight lawmakers selected to participate in those talks.

The “gang of eight” met for long hours of research and discussion each day for several weeks. We achieved agreement on most of the major points of the package that included funding for much-needed transportation projects located throughout the state and a viable, largely market-driven replacement for the controversial Low Carbon Fuel Standard.

However, the negotiated plan fell apart when the director of the Oregon Department of Transportation explained during the bill’s sole legislative hearing that his Agency’s “world class” modelers had made an unintentional but significant error. He reported that the modelled data provided to our team of legislators was off by a whopping 80 percent.

It has now been reported that there may have been other reasons for the transportation package being seemingly sabotaged. A recent article in the Oregonian newspaper states that Brown personally talked with Steyer just eight days before that legislative hearing. We have yet to be apprised of the nature of that conversation.

As was originally suspected, the political interest and business interests of certain out-of-state billionaires may have become more important to members of Oregon’s ruling liberal elite than the safety of our public roadways. Despite extensive attempts to shield their actions from the public, the publishing of these e-mail records makes it clear that our ongoing concerns regarding programs like the Low Carbon Fuel Standard are very much justified.

We commend the Energy & Environment Legal Institute for its diligent work in exposing this national energy “shadow plan.” It is now the responsibility of each and every one of us to inform those who may not already know about this crony capitalist intrigue that appears to have originated within Oregon’s Executive branch.

Elections have consequences. Oregon is witnessing the results of our most recent one.

According to the Secretary of State Elections Division records, both Steyer and Bloomberg invested a great deal of political contribution money into our state in an attempt to influence our elections. That investment appears to have paid off handsomely by significantly changing our political majority.

Oregonians are now saddled with some very bad legislation because liberal Democrats in Salem continue to do the bidding of these out-of-state billionaires.

We can thank them for the Low Carbon Fuel Standard written into law through the passage of Senate Bill 324 that will provide billions of dollars in benefits to mostly out-of-state alternative energy corporations, entirely at the expense of Oregon citizens. We can further thank them for SB 941, which mandates the expanded firearm background checks for the private sale of firearms.

Those egregious bills only represent the tip of the progressive liberal iceberg.

I cannot and will not believe that Oregon voters elected legislators to blindly follow agendas set by people who don’t have Oregonians’ best interests at heart. Hopefully, the release of these records will lead to more scrutiny, better governance and political policies that benefit Oregonians.

It is time to stop following the billionaire puppet masters who insist on leading us down the wrong path.

Please remember–if we do not stand up for rural Oregon, no one will.

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