Sunday, May 01, 2011

Lubbers: Critics Of Coal Gasification Deal Are Sneaky And Evil

When Mark Lubbers joined the Daniels administration back in 2005 as a communications adviser, he did so as an independent contractor making a six-figure salary. That allowed him to carry on other business activities without the attending conflict of interest charges facing regular state employees, or the 1-year cooling-off period Daniels required of former employees of his administration. When questioned by the Northwest Indiana Times about his role heading up the efforts of Indiana Gasification, LLC, a subsidiary of Leucadia, to win an unprecedented 30-year agreement with the state of Indiana that puts residential ratepayers on the hook to buy natural gas from the company at a guaranteed price if things to go as planned for the company's planned $2 billion plant at Rockport, Lubbers had this reaction:

"Ratepayers are receiving nothing in this deal other than a charge tacked on their bills that will benefit Leucadia investors," said Kerwin Olson, a utility campaign organizer with the Citizens Action Coalition. "They are using a captive rate base to implement their business plan."

Critics such as Olson are quick to point out the involvement of Mark Lubbers, Daniels' former Statehouse political director, who is working for Leucadia as its Indiana Gasification project manager.

In an interview with The Times, Lubbers said he already had left his Daniels administration post when he was first contacted about the Indiana Gasification project in early 2006. He said his wife, then a state senator, recused herself from voting on Indiana Gasification legislation in 2007 and after.

He responded with outrage to critics' charges he has leveraged his 35-year friendship with Daniels to benefit himself, allies or Leucadia.

"The people who push this innuendo are sneaky and evil," Lubbers wrote in a follow-up e-mail after the interview. "They lurk around at the edges of good and honest work attempting to damage it by collateral character assassination."
The company this year also won eminent domain authority to take land from private property owners to build a pipeline to transfer a carbon dioxide byproduct for other uses with Gov. Daniels support. Earlier, the Northwest Indiana Times uncovered e-mails between administration officials and IURC regulators attempting to set up meetings with a controversial businessman, Jerry Slusser, who is a big contributor to Daniels' campaign committee described as having ties to the coal gasification deal.

I previously pointed out that Lubbers invested in a DNA testing lab that won a state contract with the Indiana State Police while working as a $126,000 communications consultant for Gov. Daniels. Ironically, his wife, former State Sen. Teresa Lubbers, sponsored legislation requiring a 1-year cooling off period for former legislators before she quit her Senate seat to accept an appointment by Gov. Daniels to run the Indiana Commission on Higher Education. One thing is clear, the Lubbers' household is getting very wealthy as a result of their close friendship with Gov. Daniels. Mark Lubbers should look at the man in the mirror before accusing others of being "sneaky and evil." Perhaps these relationships aren't getting the serious scrutiny by the media in Indiana they should, but you can bet national news media will examine them much more closely should Gov. Daniels launch a presidential campaign.

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