March 9, 2000
Contact: Craig McDonald, Andrew Wheat
Wily Bush Donor Trashing McCain Record
Himself Has Dubious Green Credentials
A top George W. Bush supporter who has taken responsibility for running ads trashing John McCain’s environmental record has a dubious environmental record himself.
A group called “Republicans for Clean Air” recently began running $2 million in television ads that bash McCain’s environmental record and falsely characterize Governor Bush as an environmental crusader. The money for the ads came from one of Bush’s top financial backers, Dallas-based investor Sam Wyly.
Sam and his brother Charles contributed a whopping $210,273 to George W. Bush’s two gubernatorial campaigns; Charles Wyly is a so-called “Pioneer,” who has raised at least $100,000 for Bush’s presidential race. Both brothers were part of ex-President Bush’s elite “Team 100” fundraising team.
Wyly investments include stakes in diverse interests including Sterling Software, Bonanza Steakhouses, Michael’s craft stores, Maverick Capital, Earth Resources oil and silver company, and utility Green Mountain Energy Resources.
Green Mountain Resources (GMR) was formed by Vermont’s Green Mountain Power Corp (GMP). As states around the country deregulate the electricity markets (GMR praised Bush for signing a Texas deregulation bill in 1999), GRM is seeking to position itself among consumers as an environmentally friendly utility. Toward this end it aggressively courts environmental groups, offering them various perks in exchange for their endorsement.
A report issued by the Pennsylvania Environmental Network [see
suggests that GMP’s track record conflicts with GMP’s green spin. GMP is
a potentially responsible party for a Superfund site in Burlington. Its
top sources of power are: (1) Canada’s Hydro-Quebec dams, which have diverted
major rivers and have flooded thousands of square miles of native Cree
lands; and (2) the aging Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. As part of
a so-called nuclear “compact” between Vermont, Maine and Texas, the two
eastern states are seeking to dispose of their low-level nuclear waste—including
waste from Vermont Yankee—in Texas.
In 1998, Washington, D.C.-based consumer group Public Citizen denounced a Green Mountain pitch to sell environmentally friendly Oregon hydro power to California consumers. Public Citizen said that the Oregon utility PacifiCorp planned to replace the clean energy it sold to Californian greens with dirty coal power, the very dirty-air scourge that the Wyly ad pins on McCain.
“The motives of both Green Mountain and Sam Wyly are highly questionable,” said Texans for Public Justice Director Craig McDonald. “Clean air is being used here as just another smokescreen for dirty politics.”
The Wylys are also investors in Maverick Capital. Maverick received a lucrative 1998 contract to invest $96 million of the University of Texas’ endowment funds. The quasi-public University of Texas Investment Co., which answers to Bush’s U.T. Regent appointees, has been the focus of a scandal for steering such contracts to investors with ties to Bush and his top donors.
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Texans for Public Justice is non-profit, non-partisan research
and advocacy group that tracks money in Texas politics.
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