NYC comptroller questions Texas company over donations to NRA

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Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
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The New York City comptroller has questions for a Texas energy company about donations it made to the National Rifle Association and American Crossroads.

American Crossroads is a conservative political action committee.

Scott Stringer, who oversees $150 billion in city pension funds as the city’s comptroller, sent a letter to Clayton Williams Energy Inc. seeking information about the donations.

“Corporate political spending poses legal, reputational and operational risks,” wrote Stringer in the letter first reported  by the Associated Press. “It also raises serious concerns regarding the proper use of corporate assets.”

“Put bluntly,” Stringer wrote, “I find it difficult to comprehend how a small company like CWEI could be the largest and second largest public company contributor, respectively, to the NRA and to super PACs.”

The city’s pensions have around $3.2 million invested in Clayton Williams Energy, which is based in Midland. It had a market capitalization of over $1.6 billion as of Monday. The oil and gas company’s eponymous owner was the Republican nominee for Texas governor in 1990.

“I write to request that the board immediately disclose all of the corporation’s political spending for the past four years, together with supporting information describing the corporate purpose,” Stringer wrote in the letter, also obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Stringer wrote that he specifically wanted to review a breakdown of “all direct and indirect political” payments made to 501(c)(4)s, 501(c)(3)s and other tax-exempt organizations “involved in the political process, including voter education.”

It is unclear whether Williams gave donations to the NRA or American Crossroads as an individual or on behalf of the company. The company was listed as having given at least $1 million and up to $5 million to the NRA in 2011. Campaign finance records also show that in 2012, it gave another $1 million to American Crossroads, a PAC co-founded by Karl Rove, the Associated Press reports.

Clayton Williams Energy did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

Eric Sumberg, a spokesman for the comptroller’s office, said “that divestment is not the issue at hand here.”

But the Big Apple’s comptroller’s office does have a history of taking an anti-gun stance.

Last year, John Liu, who led the office at the time, announced that he would divest its New York City’s Employee Retirement System funds from all publicly traded gun and ammunition manufacturers. Nearly $16.3 million was divested from gun makers Smith & Wesson Holding Corp., Sturm Ruger & Co., Forjas Taurus, and others. The city’s Teachers’ Retirement System divested another $13.5 million from the same companies last February.

The decision was made in the wake of the Newton, Conn. mass shooting.

“Our city’s employees do not want their pension dollars supporting companies whose products tear apart families and shatter communities,” Liu said last year. “Our funds are exposed to financial and reputational risk with these investments. Removing our money lets the public and these companies know that we are determined to take whatever steps we can to stop the scourge of gun violence.”

Stringer and current Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio were trustees on the comptroller’s board when it decided to divest last year.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg stringently supported gun restrictions during his tenure, even when he was still a Republican. Last week, he announced that he would be spending $50 million to combat the NRA.

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