Scott Angelle has been touting his service on the state Public Service Commission as he campaigns for governor, but what he doesn’t say is that he also has a private gig that pays him far more — as an appointed board member of an oil and gas pipeline company that does business in Louisiana.
State and federal records show that Angelle earned $52,000 in 2014 as an elected member of the PSC, a part-time job, while he earned $194,000 in income and future stock options while serving as a board member of Sunoco Logistics, a company with pipelines that traverse Louisiana.
In 2013, he earned even more in income and stock options — $380,000 — while serving on Sunoco’s board, according to the company’s filings with the federal Securities Exchange Commission.
“When I first heard about it, it was an eye-opening moment,” said Foster Campbell, another PSC member.
Angelle graduated from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette with a degree in petroleum land management and served from 2004 to 2012, except for a six-month stint as lieutenant governor, as secretary of the Department of Natural Resources, a cabinet position that regulates the oil and gas industry.
His ties to the industry have also helped his campaign enormously.
Louisiana Rising, a super PAC created by close associates of Angelle, has received $1.25 million in campaign contributions from James Flores, a Lafayette native and LSU graduate who is now chairman and chief executive officer of Freeport McMoRan Oil and Gas, a big Houston-based company with major interests in Louisiana. The $1.25 million makes Flores the single largest donor during the election to a super PAC, which can accept unlimited donations, but is supposed to not coordinate its activities with the candidate’s campaign.
Flores’ contributions to the superPAC associated with Angelle worry Russel Honoré, the retired general who heads the so-called Green Army that lobbies for greater protection of the environment.
“If we hire him as our governor, who is he going to work for, the people of Louisiana or the interests of this company?” Honoré asked.
Flores, Angelle replied, “won’t get anything out of me. He’ll get good government.”
He said he does not recall ever ruling on matters involving Sunoco Logistics or any of Flores’ companies while at DNR.
Both Freeport McMoRan and Sunoco Logistics, which is based in Philadelphia, have business in Louisiana that will almost certainly require regulatory approvals by officials appointed by the next governor.
Sunoco is not regulated by the Public Service Commission because its pipelines pass through Louisiana, but Angelle did have dealings with the parent company of Sunoco when he headed DNR. That company is Energy Transfer Partners.
As The Advocate reported last month, Angelle acknowledged meeting with Energy Transfer officials on an October 2011 trip to the company’s Dallas headquarters to discuss, he said, a project they were considering in southwest Louisiana.
In April 2012, Energy Transfer announced plans to buy Sunoco. In August, Angelle resigned from DNR to begin his campaign for the PSC. In October, Energy Transfer completed the purchase of Sunoco. In November, Angelle won the PSC race. In December, he joined Sunoco’s board, two months after he was first recruited for the position, he said.
The campaign of U.S. Sen. David Vitter — another Republican candidate for governor — has questioned whether the 2011 trip to Dallas served as a job interview for Angelle, and the Vitter campaign had a young woman carrying a cardboard prop advertising the Sunoco salary before a crowd of reporters and television cameramen when Angelle formally qualified for governor a month ago.
“How could it be a job interview when they hadn’t purchased Sunoco?” responded Angelle in an interview Tuesday night.
“I’ve been recruited to use my expertise in strategic management to the executive team,” Angelle said, adding that the board meets eight to 12 times per year in person and through teleconferencing.
Sunoco’s SEC filings show that in 2014 he chaired the board’s Compensation Committee and served as a member of its Audit and Conflicts committees.
Of the $380,000 in total compensation in 2013, Sunoco’s SEC filing shows that $109,000 was income while $271,000 was for stock options that Angelle said he would not receive unless he was still on the board three years later.
Of the $194,000 in total compensation in 2014, Sunoco’s SEC filing shows that $93,000 was income while $101,000 was in stock options that also would not vest for another three years, Angelle said.
He said he would resign from the Sunoco board if elected as governor, which would apparently cost him at least $380,000 in stock options, not including the 2015 stock options.
Sunoco referred questions about Angelle to Energy Transfer, which declined to answer questions.
“Mr. Angelle’s leadership and industry experience have been invaluable to our executive management team, which looks to the board for strategic guidance on our business objectives,” the company said in a statement.
Flores initially donated $250,000 to the pro-Angelle super PAC, and in September gave an additional $1 million. Louisiana Rising received only another $180,000 in contributions beyond Flores’ $1 million, during the reporting period from mid-July to mid-September.
Angelle said he has known Flores for 20 or so years. He said he thought they met through a Ducks Unlimited outing. He said they have talked a couple of times this year but not about campaign contributions. Flores declined to comment for this article, a company spokesman said.
Flores’ political connections to Angelle go back at least a few years. In 2010, Flores and his wife each donated $5,000 to Angelle for a campaign that had not yet been declared, campaign finance reports show.
It’s not clear whether Angelle ever directly assisted any of Flores’ companies when he was DNR secretary, appointed first by Gov. Kathleen Blanco and reappointed by Gov. Bobby Jindal.
One of the agency’s roles is to award mineral leases on state lands and water bodies. The staff makes a recommendation to the Mineral and Energy Board, which makes the final selection, said Patrick Courreges, a DNR spokesman. The DNR secretary is one of the 11 members on the board, which the governor appoints.
After graduating from LSU, Flores founded a Louisiana-based oil and gas company, Flores and Rucks. In 1997, it became Ocean Energy, and Flores moved to Houston, according to a biography on the LSU Alumni Association website that identifies Flores as a member of its Hall of Distinction.
In 2001, Flores became president and chief executive officer of Plains Resources, another oil and gas company, according to the bio, and in 2013 he assumed his current senior positions at Freeport McMoRan Oil and Gas.
Freeport McMoRan, the parent company, was based in New Orleans until 2007 when it moved its headquarters to Arizona. Its oil and gas subsidiary is producing natural gas in north Louisiana’s Haynesville shale geological formation.
Freeport McMoRan is also producing natural gas from a 29,000-foot well — believed to be the deepest one ever drilled in Louisiana — in St. Martin Parish. That is Angelle’s home parish; he served as parish president there about 15 years ago. The company is also seeking federal approvals to begin exporting liquefied natural gas from a proposed deep water port located just offshore of Louisiana.
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