The Roth-McClendon connection

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In my column endorsing Dana Murphy in the short-term Corporation Commission race, I wrote about the mutual back-scratching relationship between Chesapeake Energy head Aubrey McClendon and Corporation Commission seat-warmer Jim Roth.

1. McClendon helped Roth get elected to the Oklahoma County Commission.

2. Roth built a bridge in the middle of nowhere that boosted the value of McClendon's tree farm land near Arcadia.

3. Not only that, but Roth offered to write a nice letter to the the people of Washington State, to let them know that McClendon and his fellow basketball team owner Clay Bennett were really not mean to gay people, because they were nice to him and his gay partner. And Roth did write that letter, which was published in the Seattle Times.

(Roth wrote that McClendon supported anti-gay-marriage campaign activities not because he had anything against homosexuals, but because he wanted to drive up Republican turnout for the sake of the energy industry.)

4. Then a former Democratic state chairman, Pat Hall, worked to get Gov. Brad Henry to appoint Roth to the Corporation Commission. Pat Hall is now a Chesapeake lobbyist.

5. When Chesapeake wanted to kill plans by PSO and OG+E to build a new coal-fired electric plant at Red Rock, Roth obliged, costing ratepayers billions in higher energy bills.

6. McClendon serves as Roth's campaign chairman and is reported to have raised over $100,000 for Roth's re-election.

KOKH in Oklahoma City has a report (video at link) summarizing most of the above points, but adding a couple of significant details concerning Roth's "Bridge to McClendon's Tree Farm." Roth's predecessor on the Oklahoma County Commission, Beverley Hodges, had been approached about building the bridge over a steak dinner, but she refused, saying it wasn't a priority. (Imagine having a county commissioner with the guts to say no to a guy with deep pockets. Vote for Sally Bell on Tuesday, and we won't have to imagine.) Roth beat Hodges when she ran for re-election in 2002.

And a farmer who owned land adjacent to the bridge said that Roth told him to sell an easement to the county for $200 / acre or else face condemnation.

Mike McCarville has more.

UPDATE: KOKH has part 2 of the story, detailing Jim Roth's hypocrisy on the bridge to nowhere issue. Each of the three Oklahoma County Commissioners -- Roth, Brent Rinehart, and Stan Inman -- had a bridge he wanted to build in a remote area of his district. Roth called Rinehart's bridge unethical, because it was near the property of one of his contributors. At the same time, Roth pushed for his bridge for the benefit of his benefactor, Aubrey McClendon.

By the way, the "commentator" at the end of the story, Bobby Stem, is a lobbyist, so you'd expect him to downplay the impact that a major contributor and fundraiser would have on a public official's decisions.

AND MORE: Jim Roth is downplaying his homosexuality here in Oklahoma, but he's using it to raise money nationwide from gay rights groups. Watch as Roth dodges a college student's question about his out-of-state donors:

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on November 1, 2008 11:12 PM.

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