HOUSTON — CITGO Petroleum Corporation today responded to a request for information from U.S. Reps. Joe Barton and Ed Whitfield regarding the company’s discounted heating oil program. CITGO has indicated that the company will attempt to provide the information requested by the congressmen. The full text of the letter follows:
* * *
February 17, 2006
Hon. Joe Barton,
Chairman, The Committee on Commerce and Energy
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515-6155
Hon. Ed Whitfield,
Chairman, The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations
The Committee on Commerce and Energy
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515-6155
Dear Congressmen Barton and Whitfield:
CITGO Petroleum Corporation acknowledges receipt of your letter, dated February 15, 2006, requesting information about CITGO’s discount heating oil program for low-income people. CITGO initiated this program as a continuation of CITGO’s response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita when heating oil prices began to increase. CITGO’s interest in a discount heating oil program for low-income people began about the same time as a request from a number of United States Senators asking energy companies to provide heating oil assistance to low-income people.
CITGO’s discount heating oil program to low-income people has been implemented through existing charities that historically have provided low-cost heating oil to low-income people. These charities select the recipients of the program.
CITGO shall attempt to comply with your request. We expect to be able to answer your questions and to provide you with copies of all records pertaining to the discount heating oil program in CITGO’s possession but it will take longer than a week. CITGO should be able to provide such copies to you within 30 days.
Félix M. Rodríguez
President & CEO
cc: Hon. John D. Dingell, Ranking Member
Hon. Bart Stupak, Ranking Member
Andrew L. Snowdon, Oversight and Investigations Counsel
And on a related note, there seems to be another rogue element at work around CITGO–one with a blatantly partisan slant, according to journalist and documentary filmmaker Harry Minetree (here, in an excerpt from Minetree’s open letter to Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez):
In July 2004, Luis Marin summoned me to CITGO’s Tulsa headquarters to discuss the production of a documentary film on the August referendum. If I were to accept the job, Mr. Marin said my mission would be “…to find the truth and film it.” Nothing more. Nothing less.
He offered me US$30,000 to cover crew salaries, equipment rentals and expenses for a two-week shoot. My personal fee for two months producing and promoting the film would be $120,000 US. I would also receive “a significant bonus” for providing Mr. Marin with an introduction to Bill Clinton.
The $30,000 would be paid in cash increments through the Houston law firm of Robert G. Taylor, who would be reimbursed by CITGO. Mr. Taylor, who was present at the meeting, had dictated the written agreement on which Mr. Marin’s proposal to me was based. Ray Nava, an associate of Mr. Marin’s, would deliver US cash to me in Caracas. Nava was also present at the Tulsa meeting.
Mr. Marin added that he would arrange for me to have an exclusive, on-camera interview with you, Mr. President. He gave me the phone number of a contact in Caracas — a fine young man named Umberto or Gilberto.
I agreed to Mr. Marin’s terms, and we shook hands all around. Afterwards, I flew to Houston with Robert Taylor in his Learjet. Mr. Taylor gave me a letter introducing me as an investigator for his law firm, and $9,500 cash — the first of the three promised payments for production financing.
In Caracas, I hired a crew and started shooting immediately — interviews in barrios, at sidewalk cafes, salsa clubs, shopping malls, nightclubs, etc. We traveled to the beaches where the working class swim, and to the private bathing clubs frequented by the Opposition. We toured the wealthy residential areas, then went to your hometown, Mr. President, where we interviewed one of your teachers, your high school baseball coach, and several friends and admirers. Back in Caracas, we did a wonderful interview with an old-line communist actor, Julio Mota; another with a hardline critic of your administration, Patricia Poleo. Luis Marin and Robert Taylor were informed daily of our progress.
Meanwhile, I was in constant contact with Gilberto who, unfortunately, was making little progress arranging an interview with you. Eventually, Luis directed me to Andres Izarra — who returned none of my calls and answered none of my emails.
Ray Nava delivered the first cash payment to my apartment. There were problems, he said. He appeared to be high on something, possibly cocaine. Ray offered to lend me a pistol. Then he offered to give me his young girlfriend for sexual purposes. He said everyone knew that “Chavez” had rigged the referendum vote; it was all a fraud. He said Luis Marin would be fired soon. Then he offered to introduce me to some Senators who knew the “real story” and to a “well informed” anti-Chavez writer. I told Nava to get the hell out of my apartment and not to come back. Later that evening, he phoned and threatened me. I said I would meet him in the street — he lived nearby. I waited; he didn’t appear.
The following day, I phoned Luis Marin and recounted my conversation with Ray Nava. Marin said he would take care of everything.
That was the last I heard from anyone. I received no more money, and there was no explanation why. Luis Marin refused to take my calls or to respond to my emails. I owed the crew, I owed rent. I was owed personal expenses and, if this was indeed the end of the project, CITGO had breached our contract and owed me $131,000, including the unpaid production money.
I later learned that Ray Nava had implied to Luis that I worked for the CIA; he said my crew and I had filmed nothing. The facts are that we had shot seven hours of terrific footage. And I had pre-sold the film to CNN, contingent on the interview with you. Ray Nava also told Luis and Rob Taylor that the crew and I were spending production money on liquor and teenage whores, implying, once again, that we were hobnobbing with Opposition big shots!
Since then, Mr. President, I have met with Ambassador Alvarez, spoken and exchanged emails with Fernando Garay, Mr. Kabboul and Martin Sanchez. No one among them questioned that CITGO had breached our contract (Mr. Garay said there was no record of it). But no one called back after our discussions, and no one has done anything toward settling this matter.
Indeed, Robert Taylor washed his hands of the entire situation when Ray Nava told him, Mr. President, that he is your illegitimate son! If this is true, sir, I must commend you on your precocious talent as a lover, since you could not have been more than six years old when little Ray was conceived!
There you have it, Gentle Reader…your daily dose of belly-laughs. Courtesy of what appears to be a veritable fountain of useless disinformation going by the name of Ray Nava.
BTW, I googled for more on Ray Nava and found nothing that appeared even halfway relevant. An international man of mystery, he seems to be.
Whoever this Nava creep is, he’s certainly gone to extraordinary lengths to smear Hugo Chavez in particular, claiming to be Chavez’s illegitmate son (a blatantly ridiculous charge, if Minetree’s calculations are correct; in any event, a blatantly ridiculous charge.)
I wouldn’t be surprised if an investigator following the money on this guy found the slimy trail leading all the way back to Washington…by way of Miami and Texas.
Anyhow, nice job, swiftboaters! Thanks for saving journalists the trouble of disc
rediting you. You do a damn fine job of that yourselves. May you go on shooting yourselves in the feet for years to come!
PS: Connecticut has become the latest state to sign on to CITGO’s cut-rate oil program for the poor–over the objections of the right-wing governor. Mad props to state attorney general for good sense.