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$100 Million reasons Oklahoma college fans should follow politics...

How the University of Nebraska Athletic Departments benefited from Oklahoma tax credits

The vast majority of men in Oklahoma are college sports enthusiasts. Whether it is the Oklahoma Sooners, or the Oklahoma State Cowboys, the signs of obsession are impossible to ignore. Football rolls into basketball and that into baseball - and both schools are in the Big 12 Conference (and before that the Big 8). One of the many rivalries in all sports, until recently, was the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

The citizens of Oklahoma may be shocked to learn just how they have indirectly funded Nebraska Athletics. While that sounds crazy (and it should), there is a clear trail from Oklahoma City, to Kiowa, Oklahoma, and on to Omaha, Nebraska. In June of 2001, a power plant was announced called the Kiamichi Energy Facility. According to Diamond Generating Corporation, and subsidiary of Mitsubishi, it provides over 30 permanent, well paying jobs and generates an annual payroll, including subcontractor services, of approximately $3 million.

The company that built the Kiamichi Energy Facility is called Tenaska. It is headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska. There are many subcompanies and business units of Tenaska, that perform various functions. HERE is the current list of Leadership. The various executives of this company have been very generous to many different worthy causes, and also to the University of Nebraska (which may or may not be a worthy cause depending on where you live). This is easy to do when the State of Oklahoma is giving so much money away.

There is a law that pertains to the subject of this article: Title 68, Chapter 1, Article 23, Section 2357.4. That is a very complicated way of saying "Tax Credit for Investments". As you can see from THIS LINK, certain people have received many of these tax credits. Another place, that accesses the State of Oklahoma records for tax credits and corporate welfare (I mean "economic development") is Subsidy Tracker. Here is who they are, how much they received in tax credits, what year they are for, and what ties they have to the University of Nebraska:

Howard and Rhonda Hawks
Mr. Hawks is the Founder and Chairman of Tenaska.
2010 - $10,281,136
2009 - $10,273,546
2008 - $10,265,842

The baseball field of the University of Nebraska is named after Mr. Hawks. He is the also the new Chairman of the Regents of NU.

Thomas and Mary Hendricks
Mr. Hendricks is the co-Founder and Executive VP of Tenaska.
2010 - $5,738,607
2009 - $5,734,888
2008 - $5,731,114
2007 - 5,728,345

The athletic training facility at the University of Nebraska is called the Hendricks Training Complex.

Michael and Susan Lebens
Mr. Lebens is the CEO of Tenaska.
2010 - $1,788,821
2009 - $1,786,486
2008 - $1,785,623
2007 - $1,785,623

Paul and Annette Smith
Mr. Smith is Vice Chairman of Tenaska Energy, Inc.
2010 - $1,567,096
2009 - $1,566,080
2007 - $1,564,292

Larry and Linda Pearson
Mr. Pearson is the former President and CEO, Operations of Tenaska, Inc.
2010 - $1,525,009
2009 - $1,524,020
2008 - $1,523,016
2007 - $1,521,776

Neal and Jamie Hawks
Mr. Hawks is the son of Howard Hawks. The Players Lounge inside the Hendricks Training Facility is called the Neal & Jamie Hawks Player's Lounge.
2010 - $1,313,238
2009 - $1,312,085
2008 - $1,310,913
2007 - $1,310,054

Troy and Heather Hawks
Mr. Hawks is the son of Howard Hawks.
2010 - $1,301,658
2009 - $1,300,512
2008 - $1,299,348
2007 - $1,298,495

Ronald and Terri Quinn
Mr. Quinn is the Executive Vice President of Tenaska.
2010 - $1,258,467
2009 - $1,257,652
2008 - $1,256,825
2007 - $1,256,218

Michael and Sharon Lawler
Mr. Lawler is the Executive Vice President for Corporate Investments on the Tenaska Board of Stakeholders.
2010 - $1,019,802
2009 - $1,021,407
2008 - $1,018,468
2007 - $1,017,975

Brandon Hendricks
Mr. Hendricks is the son of Thomas and Mary Hendricks.
2010 - $900,954
2009 - $900,371
2008 - $899,778
2007 - $899,344

Jennifer and Alfred Hernandez
Mrs. Hernandez appears to be the daughter of Thomas and Mary Hendricks (married Alfred Hernandez in 1999, Brazzoria, TX).
2010 - $900,954
2009 - $900,370
2008 - $899,778
2007 - $899,343

Darrell and Patricia Hevelhymer
Mr. Bevelhymer is a Consultant and Member of the Executive Board, Tenaska Marketing Ventures, Inc.
2010 - $769,230
2009 - $768,731
2008 - $768,347
2007 - $767,852

Trudy and Roger Harper
Mrs. Harper retired as President of Tenaska Power Services Company.
2010 - $600,953
2009 - $600,563
2008 - $600,166

David and Susan Fiorelli
Mr. Fiorelli is the President of Business Development Group, Tensaska Georgia Partners L.P.
2008 - $384,947
2007 - $384,737

Frederick and Teresa Hunzeker
Mr. Hunzeker is the Presidet of the Board of Stakeholders, Tenaska.
2010 - $376,339
2009 - $376,094
2008 - $375,846

The sum total of these tax credits for the years 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 is $103,433,511. That is ONE HUNDRED THREE MILLION FOUR HUNDRED THIRTY THREE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED ELEVEN DOLLARS - for about 30 permanent jobs. The amount that went to people directly tied to the University of Nebraska Athletics Department as donors based on links in this article is more than half of this amount.

To the University of Nebraska employees, fans and staff, you're welcome! The citizens (and college athletics fans) of the State of Oklahoma have helped to fund your athletic department facilities. The next time someone tells you they are a fan of college athletics in Oklahoma, remind them what they have paid for. Tell them to pay attention, and to root for their new team, the Nebraska Cornhuskers. And tell them to keep paying attention to football/basketball/baseball/whatever, but to be sure and not pay attention to politics, or to vote.

Epilogue: Former State Senator Mike Morgan, a Democrat, was charged with 32 counts of mail fraud related to his dealings with Tenaska. He was acquitted of all charges (but found guilty of a single count of bribery in another case). Prosecutors had alleged the $250,000 he was paid by Tenaska from 2004 to 2008 were bribes. The payments were for "professional services" at the rate of $5,000 a month, according to Tenaska executives. Morgan is a former Senate Pro Tempore (leader of the State Senate).

NOTE - the figures in this article should be accurate but any reader should verify them against the State of Oklahoma's website.

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