Jim Rogers, CEO of the Charlotte based Duke Energy, appeared on CNN Monday morning to discuss President Obama and the question as to whether or not a potential president should have CEO experience.
Rogers, who heads the largest energy company in the United States, gave President Obama high marks, stating that he took the reins of government at a very low point and made great strides in making the country more energy efficient through the development of natural gas.
But to some, Rogers’ praise of Obama has a hollow ring, considering that Duke Energy pledged $32 million to the Democratic National Convention, which is meeting this week in Charlotte. Duke also provided an open line of credit to the DNC in the amount of $10 million.
Rogers himself serves as co-chair of the DNC host committee and is well known for his support for Obama and other Democrats.
Some of Duke’s customers, however, wonder how Rogers can claim that the country is more energy efficient under Obama when Duke Energy’s monthly rates have done nothing but rise for the last four years.
In the comment section of a Charlotte Observer article on Rogers and Duke Energy, one person wrote, “If energy efficiency is up so much, then why is my power bill so much higher than four years ago?”
Another stated, “The president of a government monopoly is voting for the Democrat. Wow, what a surprise.”
Yet another declared, “Thanks for the twelve million for the DNC, could not have been done without our utility payments for the next few years.”
However, the cozy relationship Duke forged with Obama and the Democratic Party has apparently paid off handsomely for the company. From 2008 to 2010, Duke paid zero in taxes in spite of $5.4 billion in profits. The company also received $216 million in tax rebates. Compensation for the top five corporate executives skyrocketed by 146 percent in 2010. And according to Wikipedia, Duke came under heavy fire during this same time period for its cozy relationship with the Democratic Party and for underwriting a large portion of the costs for the Democratic National Convention.
In 2008 Jeffrey Immelt of General Electric (GE) came under heavy criticism for cozying up to President Obama, receiving tax breaks, rebates, and bailouts in the billions of dollars in exchange for Immelt’s unqualified endorsement of Obama’s presidency and agenda.
GE also paid no taxes.
Critics wonder if Duke Energy represents another such case of “crony capitalism” that is only now coming to light as the spotlight shines on Charlotte and the Democratic National Convention.
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