Soros, Douglas support Natural Gas Act proponents

Soon after President Barack Obama touted Westport Innovation’s liquefied natural gas-powered engines April 1 at a Maryland UPS facility, the company’s top individual investor made large contributions to Democrats.

Kevin G. Douglas, Westport’s largest individual shareholder, April 8 gave more than $30,000 to Obama and the Democratic National Committee, according to federal campaign filings.

In a lucky confluence of events, a bill, supported by the president, New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions Act, designed to subsidize the migration of American vehicles from gasoline and diesel to LNG-powered engines was filed April 6 in the House of Representatives. The bill is also known by the shorthand: Natural Gas Act.

The Natural Gas Act will create federal tax credits for natural gas vehicles, storage facilities and fueling stations for a five-year period.

Speaking in front of UPS and other trucks equipped with Westport engines, the president told the large crowd of UPS employees and supporters that the Natural Gas Act was good for the economy and the environment.

“I just had a chance to see some of these fuel efficient cars and trucks that they’re adding to their fleets including hybrids and all electric vehicles manufactured right here in the U.S. by Ford and GM. Right here in the U.S. of A.,” Obama said.

“We’re actually here to announce an exciting new partnership between the federal government and some of America’s leading companies,” the president said.

“My hope is that members of both parties, Republicans and Democrats, will support these kinds of proposals. This shouldn’t be a partisan issue. This is an American issue,” he said.

Westport’s CEO David R. Demers, said in a company press release that his company was ready to take advantage of the Natural Gas Act when it is passed.

“We are thrilled to have President Obama encouraging the use of natural gas,” he said. “Westport is strategically positioned to support the President’s initiatives.”

Westport has three engine manufacturing partnerships in China, according to the company’s federal filings.

Federal filings also show that Soros Fund Management, the investment vehicle controlled by billionaire and longtime Democratic donor George Soros, owns more than three million shares in the Vancouver, British Columbia-based distributor of LNG engines. It is a position worth more than $90 million, as of the Feb. 14 market close.

Soros has already made more than $60 million profits selling shares and he could make another $60 million profit were he to get liquid on his entire remaining block, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Always generous to Democrats, Soros, and individuals associated with him, have supported proponents of the Natural Gas Act.

Soros himself has donated $5,000 to bill co-sponsor Rep. Nita M. Lowey (D-N.Y.) and $75,000 in May to the Democrat’s House Majority PAC, a super political action committee, which was established April 8, according to federal filings.

Interestingly, the House Majority PAC ran ads against Rep. Daniel E. Lungren (R-Calif.), himself a co-sponsor of the Natural Gas Act.

Alexander Cohn, a portfolio manager at Soros Fund Management, March 28 donated $1,000 to Sen. Robert J. Menendez (D-N.J.), the lead sponsor of the Natural Gas Act in the Senate, according to federal filings. During the 2010 election cycle, Soros’ family members gave $121,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, while Menendez was its chairman.

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