Detailed in this article are the recent oil and gas speculation investments, including investments in deep-sea drilling companies, made by the federal judge who blocked the new deep-sea drilling ruling. I recently called for his impeachment in my comments on the financial disclosure reports of Judge Martin Feldman, who struck down the temporary moratorium on new deep-water oil drilling. I based my comments on the financial disclosure reports that had been provided by the Administrative Office ("AO") of the U.S. Courts, from the Financial Disclosure Office (FDO) of the Article III Judges Division (where I previously served as Deputy Chief). And, I stand by my strong rebuke of the judge.
Judicial Watch (JW) has posted all the financial disclosure reports from 2003 through 2008 on all sitting federal judges, a great public service. The AO received Judge Feldman's financial disclosure report for 2009, but has not made that document public as of the publication date of this note, as the FDO does not affirmatively publish the financial statements of the judges for whom they work, but does share them publicly after an internal review process that can include redactions. In preparation for my story on June 23, I reviewed in detail Judge Feldman's most recent filing that JW had posted, filed in May 2009.
As some of our readers have requested a more detailed recitation of the facts supporting our deep concerns about the appearance of impropriety by the judge, I am happy to provide this in-depth summary of his disclosures from that filing. If you would like to read the forms yourself here is the link.
Here are the highlights (or lowlights, depending on your perspective) of Judge Feldman's earnings in 2008:
- Judicial salary (excluding benefits and retirement): $169,300
- Earnings from investments: up to $174,000
- Due to the way the disclosure form obscures actual amounts, the range of his investment income adds up to between $37,524, if he received the bare minimum at each disclosure threshold, and $174,000, if he received the maximum. The investment earnings constituted between about 20% of his federal salary and over 100% of it.
Oil exploration-related investment income in 2008
- Transocean, earned up to $1000 on an investment of up to $15,000; Transocean describes itself as "the world's largest off-shore drilling" and owned the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig leased to BP that is at the heart of the disaster in the Gulf. Judge Feldman's investment in Transocean dates back to 2004, according to his older financial disclosure forms.
- ATP Oil & Gas, earned up to $1,000 on a new investment of up to $15,000; ATP describes itself as an innovator in deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
- Ocean Energy Notes, earned between $1,000 and $2,500 on an investment of up to $50,000; this company describes itself as developing "submersible drilling rigs" and working on drilling platforms (what it terms "Floating Production, Storage and Offloading" (FPSO) vessels).
- Hercules Offshore, earned a dividend of between $5,001 and $15,000 on the sale of up to $15,000 in stock and also purchased up to $15,000 in company stock, earning up to a $2,500 dividend; Hercules describes itself as having the largest fleet of jack-up or mobile rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. Judge Feldman had multiple transactions involving Hercules, which he began investing in 2008.
- Halliburton Co., earned a gain of up to $1,000 on the sale of up to $15,000 in stock; Halliburton describes itself as an expert in deepwater drilling and as one of the world's largest energy companies.
- KBR Inc., earned up to $1,000 on a new investment of up to $15,000; KBR describes itself as a leader in oil refining.
- Parker Drilling Company, earned a dividend of up to $1000 on a new investment of up to $15,000; Parker describes itself as specializing in off-shore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere.
- Rowan Companies, Inc., earned up to $1,000 on a new investment of up to $15,000; Rowan describes itself as having an extensive fleet of off-shore rigs and "specializing in innovative drilling products and systems including those that serve our niche market -- hard-to-drill deep gas wells.".
- General Electric, earned up to $2,500 on an investment of up to $15,000; GE recently won the largest "subsea" drilling contract in the industry to date and earlier this year invested over $150 million in a partnership with ATP for Gulf of Mexico drilling.
- Quicksilver Resources, earned up to $15,000 on the sale of an investment of upt to $15,000, with a gain of up to $2,500; Quicksilver describes itself as an oil and natural gas exploration company in Ft. Worth.
- Atlas Energy Resources, earned up to $1,000 on a new investment of up to $15,000; Atlas describes itself as a natural gas exploration company and one of the leading producers of natural gas from Marcellus Shale.
- TXCO Resources, Inc., earned up to $1,000 on a new investment of up to $15,000; TXCO describes itself as a player in shale and oil sands exploration.
- EV Energy Partners LP, earned up to $1000 on a new investment of up to $15,000; EV describes itself as an operator of U.S. gas and oil field assets.
- Macquarie Intrastruct, earned up to $1000 on a new investment of up to $15,000; Macquarie describes itself as operating oil and gas infrastructure in the U.S. such as pipelines.
- BPZ Resources, earned up to $1,000 on a new investment of up to $15,000; BPZ describes itself as an oil and gas exploration company in Peru.
- El Paso Corp., earned up to $1,000 on a new investment of up to $15,000; El Paso describes itself as "the nation's leading interstate natural gas pipeline franchises" including extensive Gulf coast pipeline assets. Judge Feldman also sold his interest in a subsidiary, El Paso Pipeline Partners LP, earning up to $1000 on an investment of up to $15,000.
- Chesapeake Energy Corp., earned up to $1,000 on a new investment of up to $15,000; Chesapeake describes itself as a leader in natural gas production.
- Peabody Energy, earned $1,000 or less on investment of between $15,001 and $50,000; Peabody describes itself as the world's largest private sector coal company.
- Prospect Energy, earned up to $1,000 on an investment of up to $15,000; Prospect is an energy finance company.
- NGP Capital Resources, earned up to $2,500 on the sale of an investment of up to $15,000; NGP describes itself as focusing on investing in oil and natural gas companies.
- Pengrowth Energy Trust,earned up to $1,000 on an investment of up to $15,000 as part of a share distribution; Pengrowth describes itself as "an oil and gas" operating company.
- Blackrock (various accounts), earned between $11,000 and $32,500 on investments worth up to $45,000; Blackrock has been one of BP's largest shareholders.
It's certainly fair to say that as of his last known financial disclosure report, Judge Feldman was plainly an investor and speculator in oil and gas exploration, including deepwater drilling, and profited from these investments.