Thursday, March 11, 2010
On the heels of President Obama's interest in either taking credit for or sabotaging Governor Palin's natural gas pipeline comes more pipeline news. Today's news appears to demonstrate more Alaska politics-as-usual--you know, the kind of nonsense Governor Palin fought hard to bring down in her beloved state. Representative Mike Hawker, House Finance Co-chair, has erected a roadblock by reducing the funding necessary for the natural gas pipeline project.
Pat Forgey of Juneau Empire reports:
Legislative opponents of Trans-Canada Corp.'s state-backed natural gas pipeline project stripped much of the money Gov. Sean Parnell has sought for the state's role in pushing it forward from the budget adopted by the House Finance Committee on Tuesday.
Finance Co-chair Mike Hawker, R-Anchorage, acknowledged that it was a "substantial reduction" but said money could be provided later and was not an attack on the pipeline.
Now, why would Hawker feel the need to volunteer justification for his opposition, which even he terms a "substantial reduction"? Why the need to declare that he wasn't throwing the pipeline under the bus? Perhaps he didn't initiate that discussion. Perhaps he was asked. Would there have been good reason to question his motive in blocking the funding?
You see, Hawker has a history of opposing and downplaying Governor Palin's AGIA plan. Let's take a stroll down memory lane.
In June, RAM wrote a C4P article, "Mike Hawker, One Lucky Lying 'Corrupt Bastard,'" in which she blew up Hawker's spot.
I’ve had just about as much as I can take of Rep. Mike Hawker (RINO-Anchorage).
Let me be blunt. He is a cynical and dissembling politician. He is a flat out liar.
He’s been carrying on and making a general ass of himself to the local and national media saying stupid things like this:Anchorage Republican Rep. Mike Hawker, co-chairman of the committee that writes the budget, said TransCanada seems to be merely subcontracting some work to Exxon. “My take is what’s going on here is a completely overblown media circus,” said Hawker, whose wife works for Conoco in its Cook Inlet operations.
Overblown media circus? No, see, we’re talking about a natural gas pipeline that will be the largest private energy project in the world. We’re not talking about Troopergate.
Exxon is partnering – not subcontracting. There’s a big difference.
You just learned that Hawker’s wife works for Conoco, the company with a rival pipeline project in competition with Gov. Palin’s AGIA based pipeline, but let’s look a little closer.
RAM goes on to document Hawker's corrupt history and even his bragging about it, for he coined the phrase "Corrupt Bastards Club," of which he was a proud member. RAM doesn't simply slam his character and leave it at that; no, she backs up her assertions with evidence. Included in that evidence are specifics of contributions and benefits he and other Alaska politicians received from VECO, an oilfield services company, ConocoPhillips (again, his wife's employer and AGIA competitor), and others.
RAM quotes a Lori Backes article:
According to Alaska Public Offices Commission reports, the most prolific and consistent “investor” in Alaska politics is the oil industry; with the employees of VECO Corp. standing out as the single largest contributing block.
Rep. Mike Hawker, House Finance Committee member, Legislative Budget and Audit Committee: $8,050
One should note that these totals do not include Senate President Ben Stevens’ “consulting” contract with VECO, Rep. Meyer’s salary and benefits from ConocoPhillips; the salary, retirement and stock options to the Rep. Hawker household from ConocoPhillips or his own contract with ASCG, of NANA Corp., which has contracts for oil field services with VECO and BP, while he was involved in confidential discussions on the gas line contract. [emphasis added]
Fishy business? Was this a "corrupt bastard" living up to his self-profession?
You must read all of RAM's article to get the full skinny on Hawker. Click here to access it.
Rep. Hawker's own actions have created the distrust he faces, and it's no wonder his motives are called into question now when he stands, again, against efforts to move forward on the pipeline. Governor Sean Parnell is committed to continuing the efforts of his predecessor, and look who's still in the way.
How are legislators responding to this roadblock, and what does Hawker have to say about it?
House Democrats who had backed the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act under which Trans-Canada had won state support criticized the cuts as an attack on the gasline.
At a press conference Tuesday, House Minority Leader Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau, warned the Legislature could stall as pro-industry representatives attempt to reopen fights over gas pipeline and oil tax issues from the last few years.
"We're headed for some kind of meltdown," she said.
The money Parnell requested would have been used by the Departments of Law, Revenue and Natural Resources for the state's role in moving toward a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission certificate for the Alaska Pipeline Project. The project is sponsored by Trans-Canada with partner ExxonMobil under AGIA. A competing pipeline sponsored by ConocoPhillips and BP also is in the works.
Hawker denied anything "skulduggerous" was happening in an attempt to stop the Trans-Canada effort to which he had earlier opposed. He said the move was a reaction to Alaskans who have let him know they wanted more scrutiny on the issue.
[Rep. Les] Gara warned that withholding the money sought by Parnell could delay the state's ability to meet its commitments under AGIA and could weaken the state's hand in forcing BP, ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil to develop a pipeline.
"They're not going to move ahead with a gas line on their own. We have to push them," Gara said.
The Finance Committee also cut money for the Parnell administration to work on an in-state gas line to Southcentral after Hakwer [sic] questioned "the commitment of this administration in moving this project forward."
Other legislative bills would take responsibility for in-state gas away from Parnell, and vest it elsewhere.
Gas pipeline funding, both for the in-state gasline and AGIA pipeline work, remains a priority for this administration and we will continue to work with both the House and Senate to restore full funding," said Sharon Leighow, Parnell's spokesperson.
Hawker said none of the cuts were in opposition to AGIA or in-state gas, but were instead a way to continue the discussion with the Parnell administration.
I'm not Hawker, and I can't read his mind. The only thing I can read is his history, and there certainly seems to be a pattern in full-swing. Is he suddenly acting with pure motives, blocking funds only at the behest of concerned Alaskans, as he claims? You tell me: does that sound like the modus operandi of a member of the "Corrupt Bastards Club"?