The Bush Pioneers, who agree to raise a minimum of $100,000 each for the Bush campaign, are well-connected
throughout the Bush administration. Here are some examples of the subtle interaction of political fundraising and public policy.
Hunt Oil Co.
Bush Pioneer Jose Fourquet played a pivotal role in the financing of a massive Peruvian natural gas project that benefited Hunt Oil Co., whose chairman, Ray L. Hunt, signed up to be a Pioneer and is a longtime ally of the president.
The Camisea Natural Gas Project is set to extract fossil fuel from one of the world's most pristine tropical rain forests and pipe it over the Andes toward Lima and the coast, where it will end up at a depot near a marine sanctuary. Hunt is one of several participants in the project. His company hired Halliburton's Kellogg Brown & Root to design a $1 billion export terminal on the coast.
Fourquet, the Treasury Department's U.S. representative to the Inter-American Development Bank, rebuffed the official written and oral recommendation from other U.S. officials to vote "no" on the project. Instead, he abstained on $135 million in financing for the project, allowing it to proceed. Opposition from the United States, a primary funder of the IDB bank, would have jeopardized the deal.
In a strongly worded memo sent before the vote, the U.S. Agency for International Development told the Treasury Department that federal law required Fourquet to cast a "no" vote because environmental reviews were deficient. In addition, others on a federal interagency task force urged opposition.
A separate proposal for financing from the Export-Import Bank of the United States fell short over environmental concerns. April H. Foley, a Bush appointee and the Ex-Im Bank board member who cast the deciding "no" vote, said the president questioned her about it afterward. She told Friends of the Earth campaign director Jon Sohn, that President Bush brought it up during an overnight stay at Camp David. Bush asked her to explain her vote to national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, who was involved in providing direction to Fourquet in how to vote.
Foley declined to discuss her vote.
The Camisea project also encountered fierce opposition from worldwide environmental groups and some members of Congress, who predicted the massive extraction and pipeline project would destroy the rain forest in the Southeastern Amazon and endanger its indigenous people. Environmental groups issued reports recently saying their worst fears are coming true -- indigenous people coming down with illnesses, a massive fish kill in Paracas Bay.
Media releases from the Bush campaign do not say whether Hunt formally reached Pioneer status, but court documents list Hunt as being given Pioneer Solicitor Tracking No. 1002. The Bush campaign has stopped answering questions about who was in the program.
Hunt has declined repeated requests for information about the bank's vote or his campaign contributions. Federal records show he has given nearly $100,000 to Republican causes in the past four years, including individual donations to the Bush campaign.
There are other significant Bush connections to Hunt. His chief of public affairs, James Curtis Oberwetter, recently became Bush's ambassador to Saudi Arabia. He was replaced at Hunt Oil by Jeanne Johnson Phillips, one of the creators of the Bush Pioneer program, a current campaign adviser and former ambassador under Bush to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris.
Bush also appointed Hunt to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and to the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.
Fourquet, 37, who was an investment banker before he joined the administration, resigned his post last month. He did not return phone calls.
Among the top priorities for Bush Pioneer and Rep. Jennifer Dunn (R-Wash.) was an end to the Justice Department's antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft Corp. Dunn represents Redmond, Wash., where the software giant is based.
In 2000, the Clinton Justice Department won the major parts of its case against Microsoft and proposed breaking the world's largest software company in two. An appeals court threw out the breakup plan the next year and sent the matter back to U.S. District Court. The Bush Justice Department then settled the matter on terms widely seen as favorable to Microsoft. Critics say that the settlement fails to address the harm Microsoft's monopoly power inflicted on other companies. The Justice Department defended the settlement as a fair resolution of the case. A federal judge accepted the terms.
Last week, the Bush administration nominated the lead Justice Department negotiator in the Microsoft case, Deborah P. Majoras, to be chairman of the Federal Trade Commission.
"I just think it is a different atmosphere now," said Dunn, who was one of the first Pioneers, exceeding her $100,000 commitment with the help of Microsoft donors. "In the Clinton administration, the Justice Department brought suit against them. President Bush said 'I'm for innovation -- not regulation.' That was important to Microsoft that he kept his word."
This year, Microsoft has two Pioneers, John Connors and John Kelly. More than 100 people from Microsoft attended an event for Bush, Dunn said. Employees have given more than $160,000 in contributions, placing Microsoft among the top companies donating to Bush, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
At least half a dozen members of the chemical industry became Bush Pioneers in 2000, among them Frederick L. Webber, then-chairman and chief executive of the American Chemistry Council; J. Roger Hirl, former president of the group and chief executive of Occidental Chemical Corp. in Dallas; and Allan B. Hubbard of E & A Industries Inc., who attended Harvard Business School with Bush.
Before leaving the chemical manufacturers' trade group in 2002, Webber had led a fierce battle over plant security.
After Sept. 11, 2001, chemical and petroleum plants faced the prospect of new inspections to ensure security was sufficient to prevent terrorist attacks. Reports for years had warned of chemical plant vulnerabilities. Federal studies said a properly mounted attack could kill millions. After the terrorist attacks, the Bush administration ordered the reports removed from the Internet.
The Environmental Protection Agency took the lead in formulating a policy to regulate chemical plant security. EPA officials said that under the Clean Air Act these plants had a "general duty" to secure their facilities against terrorist attack. Then-EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman ordered a policy developed. In 2002, EPA outlined this new enforcement regime, according to internal documents obtained by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Separately, Sen. Jon S. Corzine (D-N.J.) proposed legislation that would mandate that EPA take the lead role in enforcing plant security.
Chemical industry officials argued that the plants were already bolstering security and they appealed to the administration to keep EPA away from the issue.
Webber and Greg Lebedev, who eventually replaced him as chief executive of the American Chemistry Council, took a group of industry executives to the White House, where they met with Bush political adviser Karl Rove and the White House Council on Environmental Quality in September 2002, Lebedev said. The group urged the administration to oppose the Corzine bill.
Afterward, Rove wrote one of the attendees, the president of BP Amoco Chemical Co. "We have a similar set of concerns," Rove stated in a letter that was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by Greenpeace.
Webber, who now is president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, declined to comment. Lebedev, the lobbyist, said: "We had a meeting with Karl Rove. We think that's a good thing. We take people to meetings with people in government around town all the time."
In 2003, the White House gave responsibility for chemical plant security to the Department of Homeland Security. The new department, however, does not have authority to enforce security upgrades at the plants, according to environmental groups, members of Congress and the chemical industry. Lebedev said the American Chemical Council is working with Congress on legislation to give the department that authority.
Friends in High Places
Tom Loeffler, a 2000 Pioneer and a 2004 Ranger, has been a Bush family loyalist for more than a quarter century. Now, Loeffler is marketing those ties in the lobby shop he has opened here.
His firm, Loeffler Jonas & Tuggey, notes on its Web site: "Members of the firm's Government Affairs Group have strong ties to the current Administration, having worked directly with the President, the Vice President, the White House Chief of Staff, Cabinet Secretaries and their principal deputies and aides."
Those links were forged in President George H.W. Bush's 1988 campaign, when Loeffler was Texas co-chairman. In 1994, Loeffler was finance co-chair of George W. Bush's gubernatorial campaign in Texas. In the two Bush campaigns for governor, Loeffler was the largest donor, $141,000.
In the 1998 election cycle, he served as national co-chair of the Republican National Committee's "Team 100" program for donors of $100,000 or more, and then held the same title during George W. Bush's presidential campaign in 1999-2000.
In May 2000, Loeffler left the now-defunct Arter & Hadden, taking the Cleveland-based firm's San Antonio lawyers, to found his own lobby-law firm, Loeffler Jonas & Tuggey, with offices here and in San Antonio.
Since Bush's election, Loeffler's firm has grown fivefold, an impressive feat for a K Street newcomer. In 2001, its first year in Washington, Loeffler Jonas & Tuggey received $1.01 million in lobbying fees.
In the next two years, that total skyrocketed, to $4.09 million and $5.71 million, respectively. Among clients he picked up: Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Lockheed Martin Corp., Motorola Inc., the National Association of Broadcasters, SBC Communications Inc. and Southwest Airlines Co.
Loeffler declined to be interviewed for this article, but in January 2001 he told Roll Call, a newspaper that covers Congress, that he had recently "visited with the president-elect and said that any way that I can be helpful, I will be. I will not be a part of the administration. I'm sure that as times go forward, wherever my strengths can assist, I'll be called upon."
-- James V. Grimaldi and Thomas B. Edsall