The Obama business empire continues to expand. Earlier this week, Chicago-based utility giant Exelon announced that it was buying the Washington, D.C.-based utility giant Pepco Holding for $6.83 billion.
The decision comes at a time when Exelon finds it necessary to dispel rumors that it is seeking a bailout from the Illinois state government to prop up its struggling nuclear power plants.
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The deal would create a corporate behemoth serving some 10 million customers worth about $26 billion. Exelon has dedicated $100 million for an investment fund for Pepco customers that will provide assistance for low income customers and fund a variety of "energy efficiency measures."
Both companies have long histories of giving money to Democrats. Since 2008, Pepco (and its political action committee) has given at least $688,338 to political candidates and committees, almost all of which ($617,813) has gone to Democrats. Exelon (and its political action committee) has given more than $2.8 million to Democrats during that same period.
As luck would have it, Exelon has deep ties to President Obama, and as the New York Times reported in 2012, the utility giant has exploited these ties to their advantage. Exelon executives were frequent guests at the White House, where they lobbied for government regulations that would negatively affect Exelon’s competitors. White House press secretary responded to the revelations by saying: "I’m not sure what the issue is, frankly."
According to the Times, Exelon executives "were early and frequent supporters of Mr. Obama as he rose from the Illinois State Senate to the White House." THE POLITICO noted that Exelon "stands out as one of the best patrons throughout Obama’s political career." When Obama ran for Senate in 2006, the company was the fourth-largest donor to his campaign.
Frank Clark, the former chairman and CEO if Exelon subsidiary Commonwealth Edison, was an adviser on Obama’s 2008 campaign, and has been a prolific campaign bundler ever since, helping to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Exelon board member John Rogers, Jr., who played on the Princeton basketball team with Obama’s brother law, Craig Robinson, bundled more than $500,000 in donations for the president’s reelection campaign, and personally donated $100,000 to the pro-Obama Super PAC Priorities USA. In 2012, Rogers was a guest at the Chicago wedding of senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett’s daughter.
Former Obama adviser and campaign guru David Axelrod is a former Exelon consultant. In 2000, former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, then an investment banker in Chicago, helped broker the $8.2 billion merger between PECO Energy and Unicom that led to Exelon’s creation.
In 2012, the Free Beacon exposed how Exelon signed a 20-year contact with the Obama administration to outfit government facilities with solar panels manufactured by American prisoners earning between $0.23 and $1.15 per hour.
Exelon isn’t the only Democratic patron vying to significantly expand its reach. Media conglomerate Comcast is currently seeking government approval for its $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable. The merger would create a corporate juggernaut serving more than 33 million customers.
Critics have complained that the merger an anti-competitive business environment that would hurt customers, but that’s unlikely to prevent the Obama administration from signing off on the deal. Both companies have donated generously to Democrats. Comcast president and CEO Brian L. Roberts is one of President Obama’s golf buddies.
Obama has previously lamented the fact that he is "not the emperor of the United States." Nevertheless, his corporate empire grows stronger by the day.