Does Ray Hunt Do This Kind of Fund-Raising, Too?

Via TP, the Sunday Times (of London) has an explosive video, showing Bush crony Stephen Payne effectively selling State Department endorsements for former Central Asian Presidents in exchange for six figure donations to the Bush Library.

A lobbyist with close ties to the White House is offering access to key figures in George W Bush’s administration in return for six-figure donations to the private library being set up to commemorate Bush’s presidency.

Stephen Payne, who claims to have raised more than $1m for the president’s Republican party in recent years, said he would arrange meetings with Dick Cheney, the vice-president, Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, and other senior officials in return for a payment of $250,000 (£126,000) towards the library in Texas.


Asked by an undercover reporter who the politician would be able to meet for that price, Payne said: “Cheney’s possible, definitely the national security adviser [Stephen Hadley], definitely either Dr Rice or . . . I think a meeting with Dr Rice or the deputy secretary [John Negroponte] is possible . . .

“The main thing is that he [the Asian politician] comes, and he’s well received, that he meets with high-level people . . . and we send positive statements made back from the administration about ‘This guy wasn’t such a bad guy, many people have done worse’.”

As Kagro X notes, there’s a name for this: it’s called B-R-I-B-E-R-Y.

Now perhaps this is not common practice for those raising funds for Bush’s Library. And perhaps it’s not common practice for those appointed to national security advisory committees like the Homeland Security Advisory Committee (on which Payne serves) or the Presidential Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. But I can’t help but note the similar profile between Payne–who is apparently selling influence–and Ray Hunt. Of course, Hunt isn’t dealing lobbying contracts with dubious foreign figures. Rather, he’s making oil deals. And for some reason, the State Department not only overlooked the fact that Hunt’s premature deal with Kurdistan might destabilize Iraq, but they pointed Hunt Oil to new business elsewhere in Iraq.

Gosh. The State Department sure does like Bush’s cronies who come up with big chunks of cash for Bush’s library, doesn’t it?

Why Is the State Department “Hunting” for Deals for Bush’s Oil Buddy?

Man, Condi Rice has got to be tired of getting damning letters from Henry Waxman.

This one shows that, despite very specific denials from the Bush Administration that they knew anything about Bush buddy and uber-donor Ray Hunt scoring one of the first oil deals with Kurdish Iraq, the State Department was in fact very well informed about the deal.

Documents obtained by the Committee indicate that contrary to the denials of Administration officials, advisors to the President and officials in the State and Commerce Departments knew about Hunt Oil’s interest in the Kurdish region months before the contract was executed.

The documents show:

  • On June 12 and 15,2007, Hunt Oil officials met with officials from the U.S. Regional Reconstruction Team (RRT) for the Kurdistan region, located in Erbil, "to investigate investment prospects" in the Kurdish region.6 During the June 15 meeting, the Hunt Oil officials "specifically asked if the [U.S.] had a policy toward companies entering contracts with the KRG.7 According to notes taken by Hunt Oil officials, they were told the "U.S. has no policy, for nor against."8 Synopses of these meetings were sent to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad as part of weekly situation reports on June 14 and 21,2007.9
  • On July 12,2007, Ray Hunt, president and CEO of Hunt Oil, sent a letter to the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, of which he was a member, making clear his intentions to pursue oil exploration in Kurdistan. Mr. Hunt disclosed that Hunt Oil was "approached a month or so ago by representatives of a private group in Kurdistan as to the possibility of our becoming interested in that region."10 He went on to describe the visit of an oil survey team and stated that "we were encouraged by what we saw. We have a larger team going back to Kurdistan this week."11
  • In August 2007, Hunt Oil representatives exchanged e-mails with State Department personnel discussing their return to Kurdistan in late August to "assess business opportunities in Kurdistan. 12
  • On August 30, 2007, Ray Hunt sent a second letter to the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board informing the board that he would be traveling to Kurdistan during the week of September 3,2007, to meet with members of the Kurdistan Regional Government, including the President, Prime Minister, and Oil Minister. 13 Read more

The Hunt for Private Sovereignty

A number of people have pointed to this story about the gaping holes in the nativist Republicans’ border fence that just happen to coincide with the property lines of powerful GOP donors. Several of you have even pointed out that Ray Hunt–a big Bush donor and PFIAB member–happens to own a chunk of the property that the wall skirts.

Just 69 miles north, Daniel Garza, 76, faces a similar situation with a neighbor who has political connections that reach the White House. In the small town of Granjeno, population 313, Garza points to a field across the street where a segment of the proposed 18-foot high border wall would abruptly end after passing through his brick home and a small, yellow house he gave his son. “All that land over there is owned by the Hunts,” he says, waving a hand toward the horizon. “The wall doesn’t go there.”

In this area everyone knows the Hunts. Dallas billionaire Ray L. Hunt and his relatives are one of the wealthiest oil and gas dynasties in the world. Hunt, a close friend of President George W. Bush, recently donated $35 million to Southern Methodist University to help build Bush’s presidential library. In 2001, Bush made him a member of the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, where Hunt received a security clearance and access to classified intelligence.

Over the years, Hunt has transformed his 6,000-acre property, called the Sharyland Plantation, from acres of onions and vegetables into swathes of exclusive, gated communities where houses sell from $650,000 to $1 million and residents enjoy golf courses, elementary schools, and a sports park. The plantation contains an 1,800-acre business park and Sharyland Utilities, run by Hunt’s son Hunter, which delivers electricity to plantation residents and Mexican factories.

The development’s Web site touts its proximity to the international border and the new Anzalduas International Bridge now under construction, built on land Hunt donated. Hunt has also formed Hunt Mexico with a wealthy Mexican business partner to develop both sides of the border into a lucrative trade corridor the size of Manhattan.

But I haven’t seen anyone comment on what Hunt seems to be building in South Texas. Read more