Money made GOP power brokers comfortable with Tom MacArthur’s CD3 candidacy and now MacArthur’s general election opponent wants to make voters uncomfortable with the Republican’s money.
CD3 Democratic candidate Aimee Belgard today questioned MacArthur’s $115,000 in direct investments in Russia’s state-owned oil company, Gazprom, the Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), and a Russian oil company called Lukoil.
The investments call into question the Republican’s commitment promises, according to Belgard’s campaign, including energy independence, protecting the environment and taking a hard line on Iran given Iran’s close ties to CNOOC. The investments also present a potential conflict of interest as Congress proceeds with sanctions against Russia, Team Belgard argues.
Gazprom has been at the center of the conflict in the Ukraine. In June of 2014, following clashes between the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian separatists, Gazprom cut off Ukraine’s natural gas supply. In July, Congress voted to impose sanctions on Gazprombank, the bank through which Gazprom conducts its financial transactions, but Gazprom has so far remained untouched. MacArthur owns up to $50,000 of direct investments in Gazprom.
MacArthur also owns up to $50,000 of direct investments in the Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation, a state-owned company and the largest offshore oil and gas producer in China. CNOOC has a cozy relationship with Iran after closing a $16 billion deal to build an off-shore natural gas field there in 2008, and in 2012, Mitt Romney was criticized for his holdings in the company.
“Mr. MacArthur’s investments are just more proof of his ‘profit-at-any-cost’ approach,” said Hannah Ledford, Aimee Belgard’s campaign manager. “He made a fortune while his former company was sued for delaying and denying claims to disaster victims. Now we know that when Russia, China and Iran succeed, MacArthur stands to profit. Voters are skeptical of his motives, and with investments like these, it’s no wonder why.”
Belgard questioned MacArthur’s commitment to energy independence and called on him to divest from these companies.
“Until he divests from these companies, voters should take everything he has to say about energy independence or taking a hard line on Iran with a grain of salt,” said the Burlington County freeholder. “I find his attempt to slip these holdings under the rug even more disturbing. Voters deserve transparency — they deserve to know if their representative stands to profit off the votes he or she is casting. That’s why I’ve not only pledged to reject a number of taxpayer funded perks, but I’ve pledged to disclose any tax breaks that my family or I could benefit from. I’m disappointed that Mr. MacArthur has so far refused to join me, but these new revelations explain why — there’s a lot he doesn’t want people to know.”
Chris Russell, spokesman for the MacArthur Campaign, issued a statement in response.
“Frankly, Aimee Belgard questioning Tom’s patriotism because he holds stock in Lukoil, is like accusing a local resident who filled up their tank recently at a Lukoil gas station of being anti-American,’ Russell said. “It’s ridiculous and insulting. Worse, it’s hypocritical given that Belgard’s law firm represented Royal and Sun Alliance, an international insurance company with deep ties to China and Russia, and Belgard herself reports having a financial interest in international funds like the Janus Global Research Fund and the Fidelity Select Technology Portfolio that are invested heavily in Chinese and Russian companies.
“If Aimee Belgard wants to continue her personal attacks against Tom MacArthur, she should have the courage to do it in a face-to-face debate. Instead, Belgard has continually dodged our debate challenges and refuses to address issue people care about like the economy, healthcare and immigration. At this point, the Belgard campaign is little more than a press release factory being run by her Washington, DC handlers, intended to hide Belgard from tough questions about her record of higher taxes and her hypocritical attacks against Tom given her own background as a trial lawyer for the insurance industry.”