Campaign 2010

Mar 10, 2009

Graves: Too Busy Lining His Own Pockets to Help the People of Missouri

Graves Repeats His Admitted Mistake from the Past in His Continued Effort to Make Congress Work for Him

 

Yesterday, Roll Call newspaper reported that Congressman Sam Graves continues to use his work in Washington to line his own pockets while refusing to help people back home who are struggling during these difficult economic times.  Just like in 2004, Congressman Graves once again used his position on the Committee for Small Business to invite long time friend Brooks Hurst, who is also a business partner of Graves' wife, to testify at a hearing last week on the federal regulation of biodiesel and ethanol production - a matter that could generate great profit for both families.  In the mean time while the Congressman has been plotting his way towards personal riches, he has repeatedly refused to support much needed legislation that will put Missourians back to work, keep families in their homes and businesses open, and provide the greatest ever tax relief to middle class families.

 

"It's shameful that Congressman Graves is using his office in Washington for personal gain, while so many people back home are worried about losing their jobs and homes during this economic crisis," said Gabby Adler, the Midwestern Regional Press Secretary for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.  "If all of this sounds familiar, it's because it is - Congressman Graves committed the same cover-up attempt in 2004, and when his deceptions were revealed he admitted his wrongdoing.  When will Congressman Graves come clean this time and apologize to the people of Missouri for not only for hiding the truth but for conspiring to turn a profit off of his Congressional seat?"

 

When Congressman Sam Graves invited Charlie Hurst and his son Brooks Hurst to testify in front of the House Committee on Small Business in 2004, he admitted to the Kansas City Star it was wrong to do so without disclosing his connection to the Hurst family and their joint business ventures.  It seems Congressman Graves did not learn his lesson, when last week Congressman Graves again invited Brooks Hurst to testify in front of the House Committee on Small Business, and once again he failed to publicly disclose their personal friendship and the business partnership between Lesley Graves and Brooks Hurst.

 

In his written testimony to the Small Business Committee last week, Brooks Hurst urged members of Congress to extend an existing tax credit for blending fuel with biodiesel and supported implementation of a national renewable-fuels standard.  The reforms requested by Brooks would not only generate greater profit for both Hurst and Lesley Graves in their joint business venture, but it would guarantee profitability well into the future.

 

Did Congressman Sam Graves not learn his lesson the first time he lied about his ties to Brooks Hurst, or is he simply trying to hide his efforts to use federal regulations to line his own pockets while voting against efforts to provide real relief to Missouri families during these tough economic times?

 

BACKGROUND:

 

Graves Hand-Picked Business Associates For Renewable Energy Hearing: In May 2004, when Graves was chairman of the Small Business Subcommittee on Rural Enterprises, Agriculture and Technology, the committee held a hearing on renewable fuels.  Not one, but two of the panel's witnesses represented companies in which Graves already had or would have a financial interest.  One of the witnesses at the hearing was the treasurer of Golden Triangle Energy, Charlie Hurst.  Another was Brooks Hurst, a family friend of Graves who lobbied for biodiesel tax incentives and who would later establish a biodiesel company in which Graves' wife would invest (see below).  [Roll Call, 11/7/07; St Joseph News Press, 5/7/04]


Graves Admitted Failure to Disclose Connection to Hurst Family and Golden Triangle a Mistake: In 2007, Graves admitted that his failure to disclose his connection to Golden Triangle Energy in 2004 was a mistake.  He invited his friends Charlie Hurst and his son Brooks Hurst, members of the Golden Triangle Energy ethanol cooperative, to come to Washington as witnesses to promote federal subsidies for the renewable fuels industry.  Both Charlie Hurst and his son Brooks Hurst were identified as members of Golden Triangle Energy, but at the time Graves did not point out his connection to the cooperative.  His wife Lesley had invested $13,000 in the cooperative and in 2006 she invested $6,826 more.  Graves said his failure to disclose the connection was a mistake. 

 

"Looking back on it, I probably should have," Graves said.  [Columbia Tribune, 12/07/07]

 

Graves Invites Wife's Business Partner Brooks Hurst to Testify before Congress... Again:  In 2009, Graves, the ranking member on the Small Business Committee, invited Brooks Hurst to testify before a Congressional hearing on renewable fuels.  It was the second time Brooks Hurst testified and the second time Graves declined to mention that his wife Lesley Graves and Hurst are investors together in a renewable fuels plant in Missouri.  Graves introduced Hurst as a farmer from northwest Missouri and added that Hurst's family "is very active in biodiesel and ethanol production."  Hurst himself added that, "I'm also a member and investor in a small ethanol plant in the town of Craig."  Graves and Hurst beyond their financial ties also jointly own four airplanes.  [Roll Call,

3/09/09]

 

 

 

 

Year

Value of GTE Asset

Income

2000

$1,001 - $15,000

$0

2001

$1,001 - $15,000

$0

2002

$1,001 - $15,000

$201 - $1,000

2003

$1,001 - $15,000

$201 - $1,000

2004

$1,001 - $15,000

$201 - $1,000

2005

$1,001 - $15,000

$2,501 - $5,000

2006[1]

$1,001 - $15,000

$15,001 - $50,000

Total

$1,001 - $15,000

$18,104 - $58,000

Graves' Personal Income From Ethanol Investments Increased Between 2000 and 2006: From 2001 to 2006, Graves' personal financial disclosure statements indicated that he had between $1,001 and $15,000 invested in Golden Triangle Energy, a small ethanol plant located in Craig, Missouri.  Beginning in 2002, the income Graves derived from the investment began to increase (see left). [Graves Financial Disclosure Statements, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007]

 

Insider Connection Prompted Lesley Graves To Invest $15,000 In New Biodiesel Plant: In 2005, Brooks Hurst - who had testified at Graves' 2004 hearing on renewable fuels - and a dozen other Missouri farmers established a new company to build a biodiesel plant in the state. The group put up their own money and then recruited friends and colleagues to front the rest of the initial capital.  Hurst said in an interview that he had contacted the Graves family and told them about the opportunity. Lesley Graves proceeded to invest $15,000 in the plant, becoming one of about 400 investors in the project. [RollCall, 11/7/07]

 

Graves Co-sponsored and Voted for Legislation That Funneled Millions to His Investment: In 2002, Graves supported a farm bill that authorized $204 million for the USDA's Bioenergy Program, which subsidizes companies that manufacture biodiesel and ethanol.  Since then, Golden Triangle Energy has received more than $2.6 million in federal grants from the Bioenergy Program.  Later, the 2005 Energy Bill (HR 6), which Graves supported, extended the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit and created a similar tax credit for renewable diesel.  In total, the law included $4.5 billion in tax incentives for renewable energy sources like biodiesel and ethanol.   [US Fed News, 7/28/07; Renewable Fuels Association, Biodiesel Tax Credits, Accessed 11/7/07; CRS Report #RL33302, 3/8/06; HR2646, CRS BillWatch, Signed by the President on 5/13/02]

 

Graves Opposed the Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  Graves voted against the Conference Report on the Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act (H.R. 1) which represents a bold first step by President Obama and House Democrats to jumpstart America's crippled economy, provide millions of jobs, and invest in America's energy independence. [H.R. 1, #70, 2/13/09]  According to an analysis conducted by Christina Romer, Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, and Jared Bernstein, Chief Economist for the Vice President, the measure will create 7,900 jobs in Missouri's 6th Congressional District and 69,000 jobs in Missouri total.

 

 

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