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Aubrey McClendon

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Aubrey McClendon.jpg

60 Minutes Segment Featuring Aubrey McClendon


Aubrey McClendon is the founder and former CEO of Chesapeake Energy, the largest U.S. producer of natural gas. In 2008, Forbes magazine listed McClendon as the the third wealthiest CEO in the world. [1] In 2012, Chesapeake Energy's stockholders removed McClendon from the leadership position.[2]

America Energy Partners

After Chesapeake McClendon launched American Energy Partners LP, which landed roughly $1.7 billion in financing in October 2013. Most of the funds are expected to be channeled through subsidiary American Energy-Utica LLC to pick up acreage in Ohio's Utica Shale. The Energy & Minerals Group is the lead equity investor in the company's Utica offshoot.[3]

Future Plans for Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling in West Virginia

In an article penned on January 22, 2011, McClendon announced that his company, Chesapeake Energy, sees vast potential in the state of West Virginia as it relates to drilling for natural gas within the Marcellus Shale. He envisions $50 billion in profit potential for his company, and says the state's court system, as well as unqualified state workers as obstacles in achieving this potential.

At the 2011 winter meeting for the Independent Oil and Gas Association, McClendon stated that Chesapeake Energy planned on investing some $40-50 billion in natural gas drilling in West Virginia in the next few decades. He also stated that Chesapeake had already spent some $600 million in capital investment since 2008 in the state.[4]

Fearing the possibility of drilling in West Virginia, the environmental advocacy group, the Southern Environmental Law Center, placed George Washington National Forest on its top 10 endangered places in the Southeast list for 2011, saying that the forest's water, wildlife and other resources could be harmed by hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas from deposits of Marcellus shale.[5]

2008 compensation scandal

However, in late 2008, McClendon's wealth evaporated. "He had borrowed money to buy Chesapeake's once high-flying stock and had become the company's largest individual shareholder," reported BusinessWeek. "With Chesapeake's shares tumbling along with commodity prices, McClendon received margin calls and was forced to sell nearly all of his shares over three days. A stake that was worth $1.9 billion just a few months earlier vanished almost overnight, and McClendon said in an Oct. 10 press release that he was 'very disappointed' by having to sell." The company bolstered McClendon's personal wealth by increasing his pay "fivefold to $100 million," purchasing "McClendon's personal art collection -- vintage maps that had been hanging in Chesapeake's corporate office -- for $12.1 million," and paying "$4.6 million to sponsor the Oklahoma City Thunder, a National Basketball Assn. team in which McClendon owns a 19% stake." [6]

McClendon's 2008 compensation package was "one of the largest for any corporate executive last year," including "a one-time $75 million bonus, a $975,000 base salary, and $32.7 million in stock" -- "even as the company's stock price tumbled," noted the Wall Street Journal. One investor called the Chesapeake financial document describing McClendon's 2008 compensation a "shameful document" and "a near perfect illustration of the complete collapse of appropriate corporate governance." One Chesapeake shareholder, the Louisiana Police Employee Retirement System, "asked an Oklahoma state court last month to force Chesapeake to turn over records of its internal deliberations about Mr. McClendon's compensation," as "a first step toward a possible lawsuit accusing Chesapeake's board of breaching its fiduciary responsibility." [7]

American Clean Skies Foundation and CleanSkies.tv

McClendon is the chair and founder of the American Clean Skies Foundation (ACSF), a Washington DC-based group "formed in 2007 to provide all the facts on clean energy -- particularly natural gas and other clean fuels such as wind and solar -- and about the need for greater energy efficiency," according to its website. [8]

In April 2008, McClendon and ACSF launched CleanSkies.tv. The online video channel "has applied for press credentials that would place its reporters and crew inside the U.S. Capitol," according to Dow Jones. The CleanSkies.tv program "Clean Skies Sunday," which is anchored by former CBS Morning News host Susan McGinnis, is also broadcast by the WJLA-7, the ABC affiliate in Washington DC. One show featured McClendon discussing a Clean Skies Foundation report that concluded "natural gas supplies are vast enough to meet current demand for more than 100 years, a key talking point by the natural gas industry in its congressional lobbying efforts." [9] [10]

The CleanSkies.tv program "Energy Matters," which is hosted by former oil lobbyist Denise Bode, is also broadcast on Oklahoma's News Radio 1000, KTOK. [9]

CleanSkies.tv is "operated by Branded News, the Oklahoma company that also runs the National Rifle Association's online television site." The CleanSkies.tv news division "is part of the CleanSkies.tv network, but says its activities are shielded from the foundation's influence by an oversight committee chaired by former Associated Press Chairman Burl Osborne." [9]

CleanSkies.tv counts among its "peer-group partners," which "advise it on select programming," Honda USA, Natural Gas Vehicles for America and natural-gas provider Clean Energy Fuels. [11]

Political donations

McClendon has donated to both Republican and Democratic political candidates, though most of his donations and his major donations have been to Republicans or Republican-associated groups, including the Republican National Committee, National Republican Congressional Committee and Oklahoma Leadership Council; [12] and 527 groups, most notably the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, to which he contributed $250,000 in 2004. [13]

In the 2008 election cycle, Aubrey McClendon made donations to the Chesapeake Energy and Independent Petroleum Association of America political action committees; the National Republican Congressional Committee and Republicans Tom Cole, Mary Fallin, James Inhofe, John Cornyn, Mitt Romney, Tommy Thompson, Steve Pearce, John McCain and Rudolph W. Giuliani; and Democrats Bill Richardson, Chet Edwards, Hillary Clinton, Dan Boren, Barack Obama and Nick Rahall. [14]

McClendon-owned companies

  • Chesapeake Energy [1]
  • Seattle Sonics NBA Basketball Team [15]
  • Cleanskies.tv [10]
  • Cleanskies.org [10]
  • America Energy Partners[3]

Biography

Graduate of Duke University, 1981. [1]

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "CEO Compensation: #3 Aubrey K McClendon," Forbes, April 30, 2008.
  2. http://blogs.wsj.com/deals/2012/06/08/chesapeake-shareholders-in-historic-revolt/
  3. 3.0 3.1 "McClendon's new venture nets $1.7B in funding," E&E, October 10, 2013.
  4. [1], Junkins, Casey. "Company To Invest $50 Billion In W.Va." The Intelligencer - Wheeling News-Register. Jan. 22, 2011.
  5. [2], Hammack, Laurence. "Va. national forestland makes endangered list." The Ronaoke Times. Jan. 19, 2011.
  6. Christopher Palmeri, "Chesapeake Energy Battles CEO Compensation Furor: After founder Aubrey K. McClendon lost his fortune in 2008, the company's board raised his pay and bought his art. Wall Street is enraged," BusinessWeek, April 29, 2009.
  7. Ben Casselman, "Chesapeake Holders Denounce CEO's Pay," Wall Street Journal (sub req'd), April 28, 2009.
  8. "Your Gift Will Have a Lasting Impact", American Clean Skies Foundation website, accessed May 2008.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Siobhan Hughes, "CleanSkies.TV Enjoys Backing of Top Natural Gas Executive," Dow Jones (sub req'd), August 8, 2008.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Press release, "American Clean Skies Foundation Chairman Aubrey McClendon to Announce Launch Date for New CLEANSKIES.TV Network, Multi-Million Dollar Advocacy Campaign on Clean Energy and Natural Gas,& Findings from New National Polls on Clean Energy," American Clean Skies Foundation / Rational PR via PR Newswire, February 22, 2008.
  11. Mariah Blake, "Cloudy Skies," Columbia Journalism Review, January / February 2009.
  12. "Donor lookup: Aubrey McClendon, all election cycles," OpenSecrets.org, accessed April 2009.
  13. "Donor search, 2004: Swift Vets & POWs for Truth," OpenSecrets.org, accessed April 2009.
  14. "Donor lookup: Aubrey McClendon, 2008 cycle," OpenSecrets.org, accessed April 2009.
  15. Percy Allen, "Sonics co-owner McClendon fined $250K," Seattle Times, August 23, 2007.

External resources

External articles