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Chesapeake CEO does not want to be known as elephant or donkey



He was born a Democrat and became a Republican on his way to earning his company millions. But now he's had enough of partisan politics and is more of an independent thinker.

Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon knows how to throw his weight around when it comes to money and politic. His name's a frequent guest on campaign contribution lists. He gave to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, who undermined John Kerry's presidential bid in 2004, as well as helping anti-gay marriage crusades. Those contributions came while McClendon was a true red Republican. But in 2008, McClendon doesn't want to wear any color.

"When I go to visit lawmakers, I don't want to go in a partisan manner," McClendon told Oklahoma Gazette.

While it is no surprise that a rich Oklahoma oilman wore the GOP stripes, lineage suggests a different political approach. Aubrey Kerr McClendon is the great nephew of one of Oklahoma's most admired Democrats, the late Sen. Robert S. Kerr.

McClendon's decision to shed red may come as the result of remorse. The first hint the energy mogul may have been regretting some of his past political endeavors came in an interview he gave to the USA Today this past summer. The paper ran a story about how several of the Swift Boaters were contributing this year to John McCain even though the Republican presidential candidate condemned the Swift Boat ads in 2004.

McClendon told USA Today he was avoiding that type of politics.

"They are too controversial, and I'm not interested in generating political controversy," he said.

But wanting to avoid controversial political groups doesn't require changing political parities. Turning in his Republican card and signing on as an independent was brought on by deeper convictions.

"I'm disappointed in the president and I don't like the way the economy is being managed," McClendon told Gazette.

On Oct. 10, McClendon was forced to sell nearly all his Chesapeake shares to meet a margin call.

That disappointment puts McClendon in the 68 percent American majority who disapprove of the job George W. Bush has done as president.

"I don't like the Iraq war," he said.

While his party affiliation has changed, Republicans shouldn't fret about McClendon's donations drying up. There are plenty of Aubrey dollars to go around.

According to campaign contribution reports, McClendon has given at least $100,000 to GOP candidates this year. But he is spreading the wealth. Democrats were handed more than $30,000 in 2008. "Scott Cooper


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