Tom Borelli

Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers sets a new standard for crony capitalism. While the vast majority of crony capitalists are pragmatic businessmen who pursue a partnership with President Obama for purely financial reasons, Rogers is a different breed.

Most CEOs are political agnostics and see cronyism as a shortcut to bypass the competitive free enterprise system to a pot of gold. These business executives walk a political tight rope, trying to balance the benefits of political favors against the risk of drawing media scrutiny and controversy of looting the public treasury.

For Jim Rogers, passion for progressive politics appears as great as being a CEO and making money.

In addition to reaping the financial benefits of collaborating with President Obama’s energy policy, Rogers exceeds the actions of crony capitalists by aggressively using Duke Energy’s assets to advance left-wing policies.

And Rogers does not stop there. Extraordinarily for a CEO, Rogers also aggressively seeks the media limelight to defend the president.

Duke Energy’s role in the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC exposed Rogers’ passion for the Democratic Party and President Obama.

Rogers went all in for the convention and for President Obama’s re-election. He was the co-chair of the host committee and according to news sources he personally donated $100,000 – the maximum allowed – to support the convention. Rogers and his wife gave $10,000 to the President’s campaign.

Clearly, what Rogers does with his personal time and money is his right.

However, Rogers crossed the conflict of interest line when he used Duke Energy’s assets to back the financing for the DNC by establishing a $10 million line of credit. The company also provided the Duke Energy building’s office space for DNC staffers as an in-kind contribution.

The line of credit was a creative way to circumvent the DNC ban of direct corporate support for the convention.

Using Duke Energy as a bank for the Democratic Party is inconsistent with expectations of shareholders that invested in a utility company.

Because the host committee fell short of its fundraising goal of about $37 million, according to Bloomberg News, it was forced to use the line of credit with the details of the Duke Energy loan to be revealed in a report to the Federal Elections Commission in October.

Tom Borelli

Tom Borelli, Ph.D., is a Senior Fellow with FreedomWorks.

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