Big government is an investment. Or as Elizabeth Warren would say, “You didn’t build that, we gave you the money to build it and now you give us the money so we can buy a posh condo in D.C.”
Today is a good day for the Democratic National Committee. Duke Energy, which helped bankroll the Democratic convention in Charlotte last year with a $10 million loan, announced it would forgive the Democratic party of its massive debt.
As the credit line came due, Duke made official what it had signaled to shareholders in an earnings report last November. Because Duke can claim the money as a business expense for tax purposes, shareholders will foot $6 million of the cost.
And that $10 million wasn’t all the loot that Jim Rogers passed back to the Democratic Party.
The company donated $1.5 million in in-kind contributions to the host committee for office space, furniture and other expenses. Rogers personally gave $339,000 in cash and in-kind services, including the hiring of a fundraising assistant.
Duke also gave $4.1 million to a separate fund that could accept corporate money to put on parties boosting the city.
So we’re now in the 15 million dollar range. But don’t worry, Duke’s shareholders did all right, even if the taxpayers got screwed.
Nor was it just 200 million that Duke stole from American taxpayers.
Duke and Progress Energy each got $200 million in federal stimulus money for smart grid improvements in 2009. Duke’s Cliffside power plant won a $125 million “advanced coal” tax credit from the Department of Energy, and a plant under construction in Indiana got $460 million in federal, state and local incentives.
So that brings us to 785 million dollars. Some of that money came locally, but we’re still looking at a huge sum.
Duke’s financial support of Charlotte’s biggest event became a political football soon after the credit guarantee was announced in early 2011. Sidewalk protesters from FreedomWorks, a conservative group, waved “Fire Jim Rogers” signs as Duke’s CEO presided over the company’s annual meeting that spring.
Firing Jim Rogers is tricky, because Jim Rogers is tricky. You can fire him, but he doesn’t stay fired, even when he’s supposed to be fired, as the Progress merger/takeover revealed.
On July 2, at 4:02 p.m., just after the market closed, Duke Energy’s (DUK) board of directors gave final approval for the acquisition of Progress Energy, its cross-state rival. Progress’s CEO, the 6-foot-5 William Johnson, a defensive lineman in his Penn State days, was supposed to become chief executive of the combined company. Under the merger terms, Rogers was scheduled to assume the role of executive chairman, a step toward retirement.
At 4:30 p.m. the Duke board elected Johnson CEO. Then, after Johnson left to celebrate, the board took another vote and ousted him. He served as chief executive for two hours, give or take a few minutes. The Duke board awarded him an exit package of $45 million in deferred compensation, severance, and other benefits. To finish an eventful afternoon, the Duke board reinstalled Rogers in the top job.
Those caught unaware by Johnson’s stealth firing included investors, utility regulators, and some 29,000 employees of the combined company. That was unfortunate, Rogers concedes. Still, “when the day came to get married, our board reached a decision that he was not the right person to lead the company. I think it was that simple.”
This is the kind of slime you’re dealing with and it’s why Rogers is a perfect match for Obama. There has even been talk of finding Rogers a place in Obama Inc.
Duke Energy got the maximum allowable amount in taxpayer money under the stimulus program.
The DOE funds will support two projects: $200 million — the maximum allowed per project under the DOE Smart Grid Investment Grant Program — will assist in modernizing Duke Energy’s power distribution system; $4 million will support the installation of digital equipment on the transmission system in the Carolinas.
And they give the maximum allowable amount to the Democratic Party of Thieves and Criminals.