Republicans lose a major financial backer

T. Boone Pickens, who gave millions to support the Swift Boat Veterans, among other GOP causes, is now focusing on energy independence instead.

Published July 23, 2008 6:22PM (EDT)

Here's my latest video for our partners at Current. In it, I discuss legendary hedge fund man T. Boone Pickens. Pickens, who is based in Texas, specializes in investing in energy, and he has used the money he has made that way to become an important financial backer of Republican causes. In 2004, he gave $1 million to the Swift Boat Veterans and $2.5 million to the Progress for America voter fund, which supported Republicans and specifically President Bush. This year, though, Pickens has a different cause in mind.

Pickens says that he won't be giving any money to partisan political causes this year, but that instead he'll devote more than $50 million to promoting a plan he has come up with to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil. The plan involves creating wind farms -- he calls the U.S. "the Saudi Arabia of wind power" -- and shifting cars to using natural gas. Notably, he's not bullish on the idea of drilling for more oil here at home, which separates him from the Republican Party's current position on energy independence.

Given the general doldrums in which the Republican Party finds itself, the loss of Pickens' dollars can't be happy news. As blogger see-dubya wrote at Michelle Malkin's site, "Here's a prominent conservative who put up money and got personally involved on the Republican side in the 2004 election, who's now not putting his time and money into getting Republicans elected this cycle but instead is advocating for a single issue. He's not even pushing that issue from a partisan standpoint. That's got to lead to an uptick in Maalox consumption at RNC HQ."

Update: I was basing the above statement about Pickens' position on drilling for oil here in the U.S. on what he says on his Web site, but as Hot Air points out, using video of a recent appearance Pickens made on CNN, he apparently does favor extensive drilling in the U.S. My apologies.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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