Exelon Faces Criticism for Cronyism
by Judy Kent
Baltimore, MD/Washington, DC - At the annual meeting of Exelon shareholders in Baltimore, Maryland, a representative of the National Center for Public Policy Research plans to question Exelon's CEO Christopher Crane about the energy giant's insider dealings with the Obama Administration that have yielded the company hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars and have nearly crippled one of Exelon's main competitors. The energy Giant is under fire for taking hundreds of millions in government grants and loans It Didn't Need. Exelon's leadership has enjoyed "unusual access" to Obama White House that helped cripple coal Industry
In August of last year, the New York Times published an extensive expose detailing what Times reporter Eric Lipton described as the Exelon leadership's "unusual access" to the Obama White House that led, in part, to favorable regulations for themselves and harsh new rules that hobbled its competitors. The article noted that Exelon board member John W. Rogers, Jr. is a close personal friend of President Obama. Among other perks gained from this cozy relationship was the revelation that Exelon was instrumental in the promulgation of new clean air rules in 2010 that essentially struck a death knell for many coal-based power plants that are some of Exelon's main competitors.
"Industry experts predict that as many as 205 coal-fired generators will be shut down and 17,000 coal workers will be sent to the unemployment lines in large part because of the Obama Administration's war on coal," said Cherylyn Harley LeBon, co-chairman of the National Center's Project 21 black leadership network. "And now we know that one of the leading players in this battle was Exelon's corporate leadership. Exelon executives owe an explanation and an apology to those coal workers and their families."
The New York Times' report also unveiled that Exelon's cozy ties to the Obama White House, including close connections with Obama confidants David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel, may have played a large part in the energy company securing hundreds of millions of dollars in unnecessary taxpayer grants and guaranteed loans. Exelon was one of only six utilities (out of hundreds of applicants) to receive the maximum $200 million stimulus grant from Obama's Energy Department. The Times article also explained that "when the Treasury Department granted loans for renewable energy projects, Exelon landed a commitment for up to $646 million allowing it, on extremely generous financial terms, to finance one of the world's largest photovoltaic solar projects."
"When corporations connive to take hard-earned taxpayer dollars, they have to be held accountable," said National Center Free Enterprise Project Director Justin Danhof, Esq. "That the Obama Administration sits around and picks winners and losers doesn't sit well with the American people - especially as Obama and his staff consistently select losers such as Solyndra and Fisker."
"Exelon's $200 million stimulus grant was for a smart meter project that the company had already planned and budgeted. There is a right way to stimulate economic development, and then there is the Obama way," added Danhof. "Giving a $200 million gift to a company that doesn't need it for a project they are already doing is unreasonable - but it is nonetheless the Obama way."
"All working Americans saw their taxes rise two percent in January as a result of the so-called fiscal cliff deal. They shouldn't have to watch as the White House squanders that money on companies such as Exelon because President Obama's friend happens to sit on their executive board," said LeBon.
A copy of LeBon's question at the shareholder meeting, as prepared for delivery, can be found here.
The National Center for Public Policy Research is an Exelon shareholder.
The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than 4 percent from foundations, and less than 2 percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors. In 2012-13, zero percent of its contributions came from the fossil fuel industry or related foundations.