- Politics and Social Issues»
- Energy Issues
THE GREAT GORDOON IS AT IT AGAIN
When is a deal not a deal - maybe an undone deal?
Jim Gordon, known in these hubs from now on as the Great Gordoon, GG for short, has long been known as a shrewd self-promoter. This is not a crime, but in some people it can become an annoying character flaw. His career has been one of correctly forecasting coming trends in energy and finding ways to position himself at the head of the energy pack. The Great Gordoon is nothing if not clever. In commercial terms he is a skilled predator. His shrewdness has made him rich, very rich. It may also be making him some enemies.
For Gordon Cape Wind is the grand slam, the ultimate energy score. With project cost estimates hovering around $2.6 billion (many think much more) Cape Wind is the most ambitious single renewable energy project ever brought through the federal regulatory and permit maze by a private merchant generator. And, it is the only offshore wind project in the United States anywhere near construction. Gordon began surveying the project's eventual site in Nantucket Sound in 1999. This means that he is today fourteen years into the process of gaining approval, sale of the power generated and financing. So far he has scored twice: federal approval has been granted and he has Power Purchase Agreements accounting for the sale of 77.5% of Cape Wind's capacity. These PPAs command a price per kilowatt nearly three times current market rate and the Cape Wind rate will rise at a compounding annual 3.5%. So much for the GG's claim in 2002 that Cape Wind would save money for every electric customer in New England.
But wait, Cape Wind is far from a done deal.
First we should consider that there are four or five lawsuits challenging Cape Wind's approval. Future hubs will discuss these individually, but for now it is enough to know that these are serious challenges, far from resolution. Discovery is nearly complete in some but there are no trial dates even set at this time. One lawsuit in particular has been filed in behalf of a federal whistleblower, a well known avian expert now retired from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. His professional opinion is that the Cape Wind review was intentionally botched by federal officials at the expense of migratory birds and other creatures who inhabit Nantucket Sound. Should the court eventually agree with this man, we will have a judicial opinion suppporting the claim that GG and his lackees in high places have violated federal law and rules.
How, we must ask, has GG been been so successful penetrating and perverting the very federal agencies whose job it is to prevent such disasters as Cape Wind from happening? What is his secret? After all, GG has had equal success with both the Republican White House of George W. Bush and now the Democrat administration of Barack Obama. GG has obviously mastered the fine art of finding specialists in influence mongering. Can we doubt that he has been the beneficiary of some very special political influence, the type of influence that holds no party loyalty but instead deals in the universal currency: power? In fact, Gordon has such a person of influence, a man fluent in power of the most effective kind.
The man in question is Gerald T. Harrington. Gerry is one powerful man.
Gerry Harrington is a lawyer and a lobbyist based in Providence, Rhode Island where his firm, Capitol City Group, Ltd. is located but his true prowess is seen, if one knows where to look, in Washington, D.C. For the years 2005 through 2009 Cape Wind Associates, LLC paid Capitol City Group $210,000 for lobbying activities. Actually, Harrington's effeciveness is felt more than seen. He is one man, working quietly behind the scenes and do so extremely well. Harrington has some interesting personal history, very interesting.
It seems he was once engaged to Natalie Khawam, the twin sister of Jill Kelley. Jill is the so-called Tampa socialite who carried on a less-than appropriate e-mail correspondence with Marine Corp general John Allen. His nomination to command NATO forces was derailed by this relationship and his otherwise distinguished career ended in an embarassing retirement. Both sisters also appear to have been very chummy with General David Petraeus. Petraeus was forced to resign as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency because of an affair he had with his biographer and there was a very unpleasant gossip-page argument between the General's mistress and Jill Kelley. Harrington's connection to Khawam is interesting because of her prsonal history. She was married for one year to Grayson P. Wolfe, a player in George W. Bush's world. Bush appointed Wolfe to a position at the Export Import Bank and Wolfe has served in a senior capacity in the Iraq reconstruction program. He appears to have significant influence in matters of trade and finance involving the Middle East. During a bitter child custody battle Khawam, a 1995 graduate of the Georgetown Law Center and once a practicing lawyer was described by the judge hearing the case as follows: "Ms. Khawam appears to lack any appreciation or respect for the importance of honesty and integrity in her interactions with her family, employers, and others with whom she comes in contact," the judge wrote. "The court fully expects that Ms. Khawam's pattern of misrepresentations about virtually everything, including the most important aspects of her life, will continue indefintely." Khawam's ex-husband, Grayson Wolfe, was awarded sole custody of the couple's son. Would it be unfair or defamatory to ask, is Natalie Khawam an unsavory character?
Well, she certainly can be an expensive friend. Gerry Harrington was at one time engaged to Natalie Khawam. There relationship has been described as on again and off again. In her personal bankruptcy case Khawam listed a series of personal loans from men totalling apprximately $2 million. One of them was a loan of $300,000 from none other than Gerry Harrington, Jim Gordon's lobbyist. It appears that Harrington Introduced Khawam into the inner circles of the Washington political world where she met then senator John Kerry and others.
Leaving aside his interesting personal tastes, Harrington's political reach is spectacular. He is a major player in the world of political influence at the highest levels, primarily among Democrats. For example, he hosted a successful fundraiser for Hillary Clinton during her failed presidential primary campaign. In March of 2012 he was among those listed as Hosts for a cocktail reception held in Rhode Island attended by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. It appears that to be listed as a host one had to contribute or raise at least $15,000. The list of powerful Democrat political figures who have benefited from Harrington's generosity is long and impressive. This one man, Gerry Harrington, is widely considered one of the most powerful, connected and effective lobbyists in Washington. He is the perfect match for the Cape Wind scheme. Harrington holds a bachelor's degree from Yale and a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania; he is an educated man. Based in his small law firm in Providence, Rhode Island, he may seem an unlikely candidate to be such a powerful presence in Washington. Perhaps his low-key image is one of his best attributes. For Jim Gordon he has been the perfect choice to help mutilate the federal rules which many believe should have stopped Cape Wind's march to approval.
Gordon may have continuing need for Harrington's skills and influence. His once boasted agreement with a Massachusetts company to produce Cape Wind's 130 steel monopile foundations is history. This new wrinkle in the Cape Wind cloak of respectability might cause problems during the decision making process for a hefty loan guarantee Gordon hopes to get from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). What happened between Gordon and a company based in Middleboro, Massachusetts is a textbook example of what can happen when Gordon combines his greed and methods with the political interests of a whimsical governor and various overheated egoes plus the long line of alleged/would be/hopeful suppliers with the realities of offshore wind. The results have always been predictable but have seldom been given any value in Gordon's sustained assault on reason and reality.
Middleboro is a small town next to Plymouth, Massachusetts. It is still more rural than suburban and being close to Cape Cod and Nantucket Sound makes it an attractive prospective player in the Cape Wind saga. On October 13 of 2010 Massachusetts Govedrnor Deval Patrick issued a press release boasting a major step forward in his combined goals of seeing Cape Wind built and establishing Massachusetts as the center of his vision for explosive growth in the offshore wind business. Here is what the givernor announced:
MASSACHUSETTS MANUFACTURER TO MAKE FOUNDATIONS FOR CAPE WIND PROJECT
But wait, On March 11 of 2013 Cape Wind announced that its deal with Mass Tank was dead. In a letter to Todd Stribley of the DOE Loans Program Office Carl Horstman, president of Mass Tank, states plainly that he feels Mass Tank satisfied every one of the five mileposts Cape Wind had set forth in the agreement between the two companies. Horstman sites Mass Tank as being a world leader in the technology of building tanks. The eighty year-old company's skills in complex metalworking and welding are well known and respected. Horstman clearly feels his company was not treated fairly. Reading the many accounts of various aspects of this situation leads this writer to the conclusion that Mass Tank was used to garner support for the Cape Wind project when in fact Cape Wind had no intention of promoting U.S. jobs. As future posts on these pages will show, Gerry Harrington (Gordon's lobbyist) also represents one of the principle European companies actually moving forward with Cape Wind's plan. And, it is well known that Cape Wind has gone around Mass Tank to deal directrly with EEW in Germany, formerly announced as Mass Tank's partner for the Cape Wind project.
Mass Tank's comments to DOE are telling. "Without Mass Tank's participation it now appears that virtually all manufacturing for the project will be performed outside Massachusetts, and likely outside of the country."
A final interesting fact: There was wind energy gathering held on March 8, 2011, in Boston. It was organized by the Environmental Business Council of New England, Inc. and featured a panel of key players in the Cape Wind project, starting with Jim Gordon himself as the lead speaker. In the second section of this event Thomas Mousten (Offshore Wind America, Siemens Energy, Inc.) spoke of his company's aggressive plans for offshore wind in the U.S. The heads of the electrical and pile drivers' unions also gave glowing reports of the economic benefits to be harvested from Cape Wind. Most significantly, Stephen Lynch of Mass Tank spoke of the his company's plans to set up a production facility at dockside in Massachusetts where Mass Tank and its German partner (EEW) would fabricate the 130 monopiles for Cape Wind. Lynch said clearly, "We will not do this for one project." When I asked him how many projects he would need to proceed he said that 600 monopile would make establishing such a facility feasible.
Now, after spending many hundreds of executive man hours planning the Cape Wind project Mass Tank is being described publicly by Jim Gordon as being unable to meet the challenges of the project. However, what no one seems to remember is that Jim Gordon himself once described in glowing terms how his search for the right company to handle fabrication of the monopile foundations he needs led him to Mass Tank. Now, he has nothing good to say about the company and has even betrayed their trust by dealing directly withy the foreign company Mass Tank thought was its partner. If any domestic jobs develop other than actual construction of the wind farm they will likely be in New Jersey. Nice going, Governor!