Uh…. sure guys. Values that make a difference, right? Like lots ‘o Oil & Media Control
You might have been all warm and comfy watching those ‘Foundation for a Better Life’ commercials on TV ; but not after you find out whom is behind them. Would it surprise you to know, a Elite Billionare ; Mr. Philip Anschutz has funded this organization since 2000? Yep, he’s worth 7.8 BILLION dollars, and he’s also a big contributor to both conservative, and christian causes. It’s hard to know anything about the guy, however – since he has not given an interview in over 30 years. Named Fortune’s “greediest executive” in 1999, the Denver resident is a generous supporter of anti-gay-rights legislation, intelligent design, the Bush administration and efforts to sanitize television. Anschutz’s stake in Hollywood has been growing since 2000, when he began buying the bankrupt Regal, Edwards and United Artists chains and founded two film studios, Walden Media and Bristol Bay. A heavy contributor to the Republican Party for decades, Anschutz helped fund Amendment 2, a ballot initiative to overturn a state law protecting gay rights, and helped stop another initiative promoting the use of medical marijuana. Anschutz also helped fund the Discovery Institute, a conservative Christian think tank that mounted a public relations campaign and financed “research” into intelligent design. He is ranked by Forbes Magazine as the 31st Richest American in the USA – so what is he doing with his ‘Foundation for a Better Life’ ? Like most mysteries, this man’s history is the key to this puzzle:
In ’70 he bought the 250,000-acre (1,000 km²) Baughman Farms, one of the country’s largest farming corporations, in Liberal, Kansas for $10 million. The following year, he acquired 9 million acres (36,000 km²) along the Utah-Wyoming border. This produced his first fortune in the oil business. In the early 1980s, the Anschutz Ranch, with its 1 billion barrel (160,000,000 m³) oil pocket, became the largest oil field discovery in the United States since Prudhoe Bay in Alaska in 1968. He sold a half-interest in it to Mobil Oil for $500 million in 1982. Wake up and smell the crude.
In ’84 Anschutz entered the railroad business by purchasing the Rio Grande Railroad’s holding company, Rio Grande Industries. Four years later, in 1988, the Rio Grande railroad purchased the Southern Pacific Railroad under his direction. With the merger of the Southern Pacific and Union Pacific Corporation in September 1996, Anschutz became Vice-Chairman of Union Pacific. Prior to the merger, he was a Director of Southern Pacific from June 1988 to September 1996, and Non-Executive Chairman of Southern Pacific from 1993 to September 1996. Anschutz was also a Director of Forest Oil Corporation, beginning in 1995. In November 1993 he became Director and Chairman of the Board of Qwest, stepping down as a nonexecutive co-chairman in 2002, but remaining on the board.
Anschutz has also been a Director for Pacific Energy Partners, and served on the boards of the American Petroleum Institute, in Washington, D.C. and the National Petroleum Institute Council, in Washington, D.C.
In May 2001, the Bush administration upheld Anschutz’s right to drill an exploratory oil well at Weatherman Draw, in south-central Montana where Native American tribes wanted to preserve sacred rock drawings. Environmental groups, preservationists, and 10 Indian tribes had appealed the decision without success. Reports at the time noted that Anschutz had donated $300,000 to Republican causes in the previous four years. In April 2002, the Anschutz Exploration Corporation gave up its plans to drill for oil in the area. They donated its leases for oil and gas rights to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which has pledged to let the leases expire, and the Bureau of Land Management said it had no plans to permit further leases there, and would consider formal withdrawal of the 4,268 acre (17 km²) site from mineral leasing in its 2004 management plan.
But that’s not all my readers, Anschutz owns or has major interests in about 100 companies, including the following:
- Anschutz Entertainment Group, which has stakes in three U.S. soccer teams, including the MLS’s Los Angeles Galaxy, Chicago Fire, and Houston Dynamo; the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings; the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs; the ECHL’s Reading Royals; the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers; STAPLES Center; Home Depot Center; Major League Lacrosse LA Riptide; the Swedish soccer team Hammarby IF; the German hockey teams Hamburg Freezers and Eisbären Berlin; and the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles; In the UK they own the Manchester Evening News Arena, the London Arena, and the Millennium Dome which is being redeveloped as a multi-purpose arena, and re-launched under the name “The O2”.
- Anschutz Film Group (reorganized Crusader Entertainment now known as Bristol Bay Productions and Walden Media). Involved in the production of the movie Atlas Shrugged, and previously involved in the production of the movie Holes in 2003 and the commercially successful The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in 2005.
- Forest Oil
- Pacific Energy Group
- 17% stake in Qwest Communications, which became a Baby Bell upon the purchase of US West
- Regal Entertainment Group, the largest movie theatre chain in the world with approximately 6,000 screens. Anschutz owns more than half of the company, which is a collection of former bankrupt chains.
- Union Pacific Railroad (Anschutz is the company’s largest shareholder, with 6%.)
- Clarity Media Group, a newspaper conglomerate which includes:
- The San Francisco Examiner (purchased in 2004)
- The Washington Examiner, which was spun off from a number of D.C. area suburban dailies.
- The Baltimore Examiner, which was launched anew in April 2006. (Anschutz has trademarked the name “Examiner” in more than sixty cities.)
- The Oil & Gas Asset Clearinghouse, which is a auction company designed for the Oil & Gas Business
NRC Broadcasting, which owns a string of radio stations in Colorado.
- Anschutz brought David Beckham to the United States. Beckham is now employed by Galaxy Media and plays on an Anschutz-owned soccer team.
Anschutz, a Republican donor and avid supporter of George W. Bush’s administration, has been an active patron of a number of religious and right-wing causes:
- Helped fund Amendment 2, a ballot initiative designed to overturn a Colorado state law giving equal rights to gay and lesbian people.
- Financed and distributed Christian-themed films, such as Amazing Grace and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, for mass audiences through his two film production companies and ownership of much of the Regal, Edwards and United Artists theater chains. Anschutz has also advocated a desire to censor R-rated Hollywood movies by editing them digitally for re-release as PG-13 in his theaters. In addition, as a producer Anschutz reportedly required the removal of certain material related to drug use and womanizing in the 2004 film Ray because he found it objectionable.
- Anschutz has also funded advertisements for television, billboards, and Regal Cinemas for his “For a Better Life” campaign. The campaign, while not explicitly religious, promotes “faith” and “integrity”, using characters such as Shrek and Kermit the Frog. The ads were produced by Bonneville Communications, a Salt Lake City agency connected to the Mormon Church.