Fracking Critic Polis Has Investments Tied to Industry

August 5, 2013
Polis has been a leading critic of fracking, yet the Boulder Democrat has as much as $180,000 invested in funds with direct holdings in energy companies

Polis has been a leading critic of fracking, yet the Boulder Democrat has invested in funds with direct holdings in energy companies

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Jared Polis has been a leading critic of the oil and gas development process known as fracking. Yet the Boulder Democrat has as much as $230,000 invested in two mutual funds with direct holdings in energy companies dedicated to exploring oil in western Canada, an oil patch that has become a haven for hydraulic-fracturing companies.

A review of Polis’ personal transaction forms filed with the clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives this year and his personal disclosure form in 2011 show he bought or sold the Bow River Capital mutual fund thirteen times and owned two related funds. Colorado Peak Politics first reported Polis’ ties to the fracking industry last week.

Polis owned one Bow River fund that had a portfolio worth as much as $50,000 in Gryphon Petroleum Co.

“Some of that business has come from fracturing wells. Sometimes it does; sometimes it does not. In the past certainly we did (hydraulic fracturing),” Doug Robertston, vice president of operations for the Calgary-based firm, said in an interview. He could not recall the last year the company did hydraulic fracturing.

Polis bought three Bow River funds whose entire portfolio consisted of Lex Energy Partners LP, a private equity firm based in Regina, Saskatchewan. According to its website, the firm “currently manages three private energy funds focused on early upstream oil and gas companies operating in Western Canada, with a strong weighting towards oil and liquids-rich natural gas opportunities.”

In addition, Polis owned two Bow River Funds that had holdings in the MCC Energy Fund. According to its website, the Canadian firms invests “in early stage Canadian oil and gas exploration and production companies with an emphasis on private companies with proven and successful management teams.”

Calls to Lex Energy’s leaders on two separate occasions were not returned.

Polis’ investments in the Bow River Capital mutual fund whose portfolio consists of Lex Energy Partners is worth $17,000 to $80,000. He made two purchases worth $16,000 to $65,000 on December 31 and a purchase of $1,000 to $15,000 on January 14. His investments in the Bow River Capital mutual fund that had a portfolio with investments in the MCC Energy Fund were worth $30,000 to $100,000 in 2011. Congress requires members to file the range of their investments rather than detailed figures.

Polis’ financial investments contrast with his public criticisms of fracking both as a member of Congress and citizen. According to a December 2011 article in the left-leaning news site Pro Publica, “British Columbia and Alberta have offered incentives and loosened regulations to attract drilling. The result: record fracking operations and rising concerns about the environmental cost.”

Yet Polis has supported tighter restrictions on fracking. Ten weeks after the December 31 purchases of the mutual fund, he announced he and a fellow House Democrat had sponsored two bills to ensure “the hydraulic fracking industry follows the same rules that other industries do” in complying with the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.

Last month, he filed and later, withdrew a lawsuit to prevent a neighbor from drilling on a property adjacent to a weekend home he owns in Weld County.

Polis said in an interview Tuesday that the managers of Bow River Capital chose the Lex Energy portfolio and not he.

“I don’t control what the mutual fund does. It’s like any member of Congress’ investment in a fund. It’s not different,” he said off the floor of the House of Representatives.

Also, Polis sought to rebut the suggestion he might divest his holdings. He said his investments in hydraulic fracturing were indirect and do not affect his constituents.

“If I’m the owner of a fracking company and if this is Canada, then it would be a different story. But I’m concerned about fracking’s impact on Colorado families and properties,” he said.

Polis, 38, has represented the 2nd Congressional District for three terms. An amiable Internet entrepreneur, he has attracted criticism for his financial investments before.

In the 2008 Democratic primary, he and Joan Fitz-Gerald, a former State Senate President, accused each other of making money from groups at odds with the environmental lobby.

After Polis’ campaign attacked Fitz-Gerald for accepting contributions from two mining companies, Fitz-Gerald’s campaign manager noted Polis owned mutual funds that had large investments in Evergreen Precious Metal Holdings, which had an uneven record on environmental and human-rights issues.

“He is in essence funding his campaign from the proceeds of these companies,” Mary Alice Mandarich told the Rocky Mountain News in July 2008.

A Polis campaign spokesperson had previously told the Denver Post that “Jared Polis divested himself of stock in these companies with atrocious environmental and human-rights records as soon as he discovered them through his fund manager.”

Polis’ holdings in Lex Energy represent a small slice of his overall portfolio. Of the 535 members of Congress, Polis was the fourth wealthiest member in 2011, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. His net worth was $83,065,301 to $346,827,997. Polis has millions of dollars in investments in real estate and health care.

Polis’ recent transactions with the Bow River Capital mutual fund have included green-friendly holdings as well.  For example, last November, he sold an investment worth $100,000 to $250,000 in the MCC Energy Fund, which makes electric cars.

Among Colorado’s seven U.S. representatives, Polis has been far and away the most active trader. He has filed 13 personal transaction forms for 2013. By contrast, five members of the House delegations have not filed any. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) is the other member who has filed forms.

Comments made by visitors are not representative of The Colorado Observer staff.

6 Responses to Fracking Critic Polis Has Investments Tied to Industry

  1. wrongheifer
    August 5, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    He is a “hypocrite”… an actor of the highest order…

  2. Bob Terry
    August 6, 2013 at 11:19 am

    This is your Democrat Party rulers … NIMBY but I also have investments to supply my income….Good Grief…This is what you want as representation… “I heartily disagree with fracking …but I invest in that energy”…

    HELLO !!! what part of STUPID are we to endorse this guy… OH other promises that probably won’t come true ….or at everyone’s expense

  3. Peter P
    August 8, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    This trust fund baby millionaire made his wealth from his folks and has never had to personally pay an Xcel energy bill in his life. He bought his government position while portraying himself as an education expert. He then spent his time cramming his sexual agenda down our throats. I have no doubt that he has no idea where his wealth is invested. He lets professional money managers keep him in his castle. Why do we let these insulated, coddled idealist re-write our laws to meet their pathological needs for a Utopian Society. Utopia was a police state with a chosen few deciding what was best for their subjects. Wen will people learn to dump these guys.

  4. August 12, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    I’m sorry, but I have a hard time getting upset when someone’s mutual fund picks investments that are at odds with that person’s personal/political values. The whole point of owning mutual funds is to get out of the way and let professionals make the calls. Micro-managing the fund’s managers is not wise. Mutual funds, with some exceptions, are judged solely on financial performance and to a lesser extent on the amount of diversification that they provide. There are, of course, funds that avoid investments in tobacco, liquor, guns, et cetera, but people that own these go into them with eyes wide open that such funds probably will not return as much growth/income as unrestricted funds.
    So I’ve got to stick up for Polis in this case–I do not think he is a hypocrite because a third party made an investment for him at arms length.

    • Bob Terry
      August 15, 2013 at 2:41 pm

      Tim When the Prospectus of a stock or Mutual fund are handed or mailed to you..You know.. what the Fund entails .. The Stock Broker or Investment manager goes over what the funds portfolio is… before you place an order… Now really…Jared should have known…If not he did not want to know or really didn’t care.. Like Jared’s politics. I didn’t know I didn’t think …but this is how YOU my constituents should follow in step. Is this how the State of Colorado should operate ?… if he doesn’t know …maybe he should find out…Like most liberal and Democrat politics I didn’t know I don’t know…I won’t find out …this is really good for you because I was told…via agenda and party its really good thing… His fortune, if he operates that way will be ZERO like our taxpayer pocket books


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