Former Shell CEO John Hofmeister hates paying politicians. It’s not right, it’s not democratic, and above all, it all amounts to legalized extortion. Or, at least, that’s what he told CNN’s Drew Griffin on the subject of paying his yearly legalized bribes — “campaign contributions” — to Washington insiders.
“I feel extorted. Every time I wrote a check I felt that it was a form of extortion, the price of entry, because of the reception that you got when you contributed versus the reception when you did not contribute.”
Self-described “impartial straight-shooter” Hofmeister then went on to tell his tale of woe, of a poor, honest businessman routinely harassed by political fundraisers at the spearpoint of persecution. As president of Shell Oil from 2005 to 2008, Hofmeister (along with several other oil execs) were summoned to several congressional hearings to discuss the skyrocketing price of gasoline at the onset of the Bush recession.
At one hearing, a member of the panel suggested nationalizing the country’s oil supply — much like almost every other developed and oil-producing nation on Earth. Shortly after the hearing, that very same member of congress and several others began pressing him for campaign contributions. And Hofmeister paid them, of course…but not with Shell’s money.
Shell has long maintained a policy of not contributing to political campaigns. Stalwart and sacrificing, Hofmeister wrote checks from his own bank account. The amount was undisclosed, as was the possibility that he simply opted to give himself a raise to cover it.
So, Hofmeister hates the corrupt government, hates corrupt politicians, and is in no way a mouthpiece for the oil industry or corporate neo-conservatives as a whole. However, corporate neo-conservative Peter Scheizer (president of the neo-conservative Government Accountability Institute and author of “Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy“) just happens to agree with him, though.
“It is a feeding frenzy that’s going on. I think we need to somehow break the back of the ability of politicians to leverage their position to extract donations.
Most fund-raisers will tell you the place that you start raising money is from people who can’t say no. So if you’re a government contractor or you’re somebody that’s doing business with the state or federal government, you’re going to be put in a position where you’re going to be expected to raise funds, because if you don’t, the fear might be that you’re going to lose the contract.”
Indeed…it’s a foul thing, this business of having to bribe politicians with protection money, as opposed to bribing them for favors. Fortunately, Hofmeister sees a better way, which the oil industry’s straight-shooter outlined in his new book “Why We Hate Oil Companies.”
While reviewers have suggested alternative titles such as “Why YOU Hate Oil Companies” and “Conservative Regurgitation: Part 95,” Hofmeister claims to be utterly neutral — fair and balanced, if you will. He calls the right “reckless,” the left “ludicrous” and makes such original observations as “partisanship is ugly.” He also has a chapter called “The Government is Broken,” says subsidized energies and government over-regulation are the roots of all evils, and spends most of the book making a case for why we’ll need coal and fossil fuels “for the foreseeable future.” Two of his biggest fans are Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. But he’s not a neo-con mouthpiece of the Oil Industry. So, don’t read the next part with any degree of suspicion or bias.
According to his book, Hofmiester’s solution is to create a federal agency called the Federal Energy Resources Board. The board would set and control the United States’ future energy policy, much as the Federal Reserve deals with money. Hofmeister’s board would of course be free of any of those corrupt elected types, and instead be lead by reasonable, rational, intelligent, moderate, “non-partisan” industry experts.
Or, as he sees it: himself.
That should get rid of all these publicly elected extortionists, once and for all. Viva Democracy.