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On the Trail: DEPARTMENT OF COINCIDENCES

Oilman greases skids for McCain campaign

August 05, 2008|Dan Morain

On June 10, John B. Hess, a top executive at the oil company with his family name, summoned friends to the 21 Club, a former speakeasy in Manhattan, and delivered $285,000 to John McCain and the Republican National Committee.

A week later, McCain traveled to Texas and announced his support for offshore oil drilling.

Hess Corp. is an East Coast gasoline retailer with major refining and exploration operations, some of which happen to be offshore in the Gulf of Mexico.

Hess was one of half a dozen hosts who tapped friends for the maximum $28,500 donation to the GOP. Others included investor Henry Kravis and hedge fund mogul Paul E. Singer.

McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said there was no link between the money and McCain's stand. "Mr. Hess was fundraising before Sen. McCain made the announcement," he said.

Most Hess donors were company attorneys, vice presidents or, like John Hess, board members. But one, Alice Rocchio, listed her job as office manager, and she gave $28,500, as did her husband, Amtrak foreman Pasquale Rocchio.

The information emerged in a Campaign Money Watch report last week, followed by an item Monday on Talking Points Memo, which wondered how they could afford to give $57,000 to a political campaign. Alice Rocchio told TPM that McCain was her favorite candidate and the money was the Rocchios' to give.

The Rocchios also gave $4,600 in February, when Hess employees -- one of whom listed his occupation as "driver" -- delivered $23,000 to McCain. The couple have not given to any other federal campaign for at least the last decade, according to Federal Election Commission records.

But records suggest that the Rocchios are not without resources. The couple listed an address in Flushing, N.Y., and also have an Arizona home.

-- Dan Morain

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