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NY-26: Jon Powers, Jack Davis, and Big Bad Oil

by on August 11, 2008

The Lockport Union-Sun & Journal has an interesting story about how Jon Powers and Jack Davis have been attacking each other for having stocks in a highly profitably industry. While commonsense suggests that it makes for people interested in money to invest in companies and industries that are profitable, apparently to Democrats, investing in oil is morally equivalent to raping a child.

The Jon Powers camp lobbed a second grenade at opponent Jack Davis over his oil stock holdings in late July.

The first volley, a June 26 press release seizing on Davis’ disclosure that he owns oil and energy stocks valued at about $35 million, asserted a link between Davis, “Big Oil” and Average Joe’s pain at the gas pumps.

How, the release asked, can voters trust Davis to know their pain when he made up to $288,000 on those energy stocks in 2007?

Despite the release’s pairing of a Big Oil diatribe with Powers’ version of best U.S. energy policy — replete with favors for alternative energy and tough love for oil — the missive wasn’t widely repeated by press in the region.

Powers went after Davis again July 31, when his camp issued a statement blasting Exxon’s record-breaking second quarter profits — and linking Davis with the presumable evil.

“The fact that Jack Davis is bankrolling his campaign with money he made from Exxon shows how out of touch he is with everyday Western New Yorkers,” Powers’ campaign manager, John Gerken, said.

After the second attack from Jon Powers, the Jack Davis campaign decided to strike back, throwing out the fact that Jon Powers too has benefitted financially because of holdings in Big Oil.

Powers’ second lob got a bigger rise out of its target. Last week, the Davis camp released an “analysis” of Powers’ self-reported financials showing the mutual funds he’s invested in also are linked with Big Oil — and posing pointed questions about Powers’ honesty.

Powers is invested in the Schwab 1000 Index Fund, two of whose Top Five holdings Davis says are Exxon Mobil and Chevron; the William Blair International Growth Fund that backs oil, gas and coal mining; the William Blair Small Cap Growth Fund that manages shares in the same; and Fidelity Capital & Income Fund, whose holdings include dozens of oil and gas companies. Powers has IRA holdings in Global Industries LLC, which is invested in offshore oil and gas drilling.

“Mr. Powers deliberately exaggerates Mr. Davis’ oil holdings, conceals his own and also fails to disclose that he has accepted campaign contributions from oil and energy lobbyists,” Davis’ campaing manager Luke Vaughn said. “To attack (Davis’ oil returns) is simply childish and flies in the face of reality.”

When push comes to shove, who really cares? It’s this kind of childish bickering that turns people off from politics. Quite frankly, I’m tired of Jon Powers (and his supporters) criminalizing success. Jack Davis and Alice Kryzan may both be wealthy, but wealth shouldn’t be a badge of dishonor. Jon Powers may not be wealthy, but he made an unusually large salary (putting him roughly in the top 15-20% of income earners) for running a rather unsuccessful non-profit group, so where does he get off claiming the moral high ground over the source of one’s wealth?  With regards to Powers mutual fund stock, the talking point (sure to be repeated by the Jon Powers Echo Chamber) is that any profits Powers made from those stocks were modest, while Davis had #35 million invested in oil and energy stocks and made roughly $288,000 off those stocks last year.

Of the Davis camp’s observation that Powers also profits personally from Big Oil, Powers’ spokeswoman, Victoria Dillon, professes astonishment that the two should be compared.

Within Powers’ mutual fund holdings there “might be some oil tucked into the Top 100,” she says, “but I truly don’t think it’s the same thing. The scale (of profit) is so, so drastically different. For them to nitpick this one little thing … it’s silly.”

The “scale of profit.”

I guess investing in Big Oil is one thing, but the bigger the profit, the more evil the investor? If Jon Powers hates success and prosperity so much, why would anyone want him in Congress? How can he fight for the people of the 26th district when he can’t even defend himself:

What’s the moral difference between a little profit off oil and a lot?

Despite repeated requests, Dillon declined to put Powers on the phone this week to speak for himself.

Is Jon Powers going to hide behind press releases and spokespersons throughout his campaign?

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From → Campaign 2008, NY-26

3 Comments
  1. 1. You can pick your mutual funds, but you can’t pick and choose what those mutual funds invest in.

    2. Investing in a mutual fund is different than investing in an individual stock, over which someone has complete control.

    3. $35 million invested in big oil isn’t the same as Powers investing – how much? You don’t say – in Schwab.

    4. Has Chris Lee done anything newsworthy lately, or are we just on the “Democrats are bad” bandwagon? So far I literally haven’t heard one reason why I should vote for Chris Lee, except that (a) he raised a lot of money; and (b) he isn’t Powers/Kryzan/Davis.

    The reason, obviously, is that there _is no_ reason to vote for Chris Lee, other than he’s a scion of a wealthy family that sold its local company to a New Jersey concern, netting $400 million for the family, and that he isn’t a “politician”.

    He’s Dan Humiston with paler skin and better hair.

  2. 1, 2 & 3. Personally, I don’t care. Big Oil is just a scapegoat in an argument that adds nothing to the debate over who has the better judgement to lead. People have the right to make their money however they see fit. The apparent difference between you and I is that you see wealth and success as a sin.

    4. I shouldn’t have to tell you that in NY-26 there is a primary race amongst the Democrats, while there isn’t one on the Republican side, thus, there’s more things to report relating to the Democrat primary. I’ve given plenty of reasons why Chris Lee is a far better candidate than Powers, Davis and Kryzan combined. Just because you either a) ignored it or b) chose not to recognize them doesn’t mean that they’re not there.

  3. Chris permalink

    “You can pick your mutual funds, but you can’t pick and choose what those mutual funds invest in. ”

    True, but it’s not difficult to find out the holdings and investment philisophies of particular mutual funds. So, if it is so terrible to profit in any way from “evil” oil companies, it would be rather easy to select mutual funds which do not include those stocks. The easiest way would to invest in the many in mutual funds which bill themselves as socially or environmentally responsible.

    Also, why does the dollar value that Powers have invested in oil stocks matter? It’s OK to make a little money off of the big, bad oil companies, but once you go over a certain amount it’s evil?

    Powers selected the investments he did because he wanted to maximize his return. Same as Davis.

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