By Tom Precious
ALBANY – A Buffalo Democratic lawmaker is calling on a state anti-corruption panel to investigate Ed Cox, the chair of the state Republican Party, to see if there are connections between his criticism of inaction on hydraulic fracturing rights in New York and his financial ties to a Texas natural gas company.
Sen. Timothy Kennedy said the Joint Commission on Public Ethics should investigate whether Cox is using his position as GOP head “to shill for the billion-dollar gas industry and his own financial benefit.’’
The call by Kennedy comes after Cox appeared in Buffalo Wednesday night before a group of gas industry executives to criticize Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his indecision on whether to permit hydraulic fracturing in the state.The state has been studying the issue since the administration of former Gov. David Paterson.
The Associated Press on Wednesday reported that Cox and his wife, Patricia Nixon Cox, a daughter of the late President Richard Nixon, have millions in stocks in Noble Energy and that he gets between $250,000 and $350,000 for serving on the company’s board.
Cox has said the company has no plans on doing business in New York if the fracking process was ever approved by the Cuomo administration; he said he also does no lobbying on behalf of the company and that any favorable decisions to permit fracking in New York would not affect his stock holdings.
David Laska, a spokesman for the state GOP, said this morning: "We're not aware of this and, to our knowledge, JCOPE matters are confidential. It sounds like Sen. Kennedy is more interested in a headline than a result.''
Erie County Republican Party Chair Nick Langworthy came to Cox's defense this afternoon. Here is his statement:
"Tim Kennedy has demonstrated just how out of touch he is with the hardworking people of Western New York. Our state Republican Chairman Ed Cox has been admirable in his full, voluntary public disclosure of his ties to Noble Energy, a successful company that has no stake in New York State.
"Tim Kennedy should spend less time grabbing cheap political headlines and sound-bytes and more time worrying about jobs for Western New Yorkers. Erie County residents want more jobs and economic development. They showed that on Tuesday by electing Republicans across Erie County -- including electing a Republican majority to the county Legislature for the first time in 36 years."