Questioning oil stock, Andrews calls on Lautenberg to release tax returns

U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews (D-1) may have stood on stage with President George W. Bush at a signing ceremony for the Iraq War resolution, but he questions why U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) has a stock portfolio brimming with big oil.

According to the congressman's reading of a U.S. Senate ethics disclosure form, Lautenberg holds stock in Copano Energy, BTA Oil, Anadarko Petroleum, Marathon Oil, and Pacific Energy.

Andrews admitted maybe it isn't alot, but in any case he wants to know if it adds up to a significant flow of money for Lautenberg at a time when New Jerseyans are saddled with soaring gas prices and the country slogsthrough aseventh year of war in the Middle East.

The senator repeatedly criticizes the Bush Administration for protecting its oil friends while sticking the American people with a higher bill – $4 per gallon by Memorial Day and maybe $5 a gallon by Labor Day – Andrews noted in a Wednesday afternoon conference call with reporters.

"He has an obligation to tell whether he’s one of those friends," said the congressman, an underdog challenger to Lautenberg in the Democratic Primary.

"The senator doesn’t have to hide behind rhetoric," Andrews added. "He needs to release his tax returns so the people of New Jersey can see how much income he derives (from the energy industry)."

Andrews said he has released his own income tax returns, and pointed out Lautenberg’s 2002 demand of general election opponent Douglas Forrester to release his returns.

Lautenberg spokesperson Julie Roginsky said the campaign would be releasing the senator’s tax returns, and in the meantime objected to Andrews’s suggestion of a conflict of interest.

"This is a desperate ploy from a candidate who is running from his record," Roginsky said. "Sen. Lautenberg’s record is clear: he exposed secret meetings between big oil executives and Dick Cheney's energy policy task force. Just this last week, Senator Lautenberg gave the Democratic radio address laying out a comprehensive energy plan to wean us off our dependence on oil and went after oil speculators who are greedily driving up oil prices for consumers."

Roginsky again hitched Andrews up to his authorship of the 2002 war resolution, and his quote to Fox News about how America’s best short-term energy policy would be to remove Saddam Hussein from power.

"No wonder George Bush handpicked him as one of his top congressional enablers on the war," Roginsky said. "They both share a world-view on foreign policy and energy policy — and we know how well both of those have worked out for the American people."

Questioning oil stock, Andrews calls on Lautenberg to release tax returns