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  •  Ever wonder what happens to Texas oil Democrats? (7+ / 0-)

    Texas oilman accused of paying Iraq kickbacks

    Wyatt, an 83-year-old self-made oil tycoon, faces five counts in Manhattan federal court including engaging in prohibited financial transactions with Iraq, deals alleged to have violated the UN oil-for-food program designed to provide humanitarian assistance to Iraq while it was under international sanctions.

    The oilman, known for his unfettered opinions and flamboyant style, faces a maximum of 74 years in prison if convicted of all charges.

    After getting his start selling oil drill bits out of the trunk of his car, he founded the Coastal Corp. that was sold to El Paso Corporation for $US17 billion in stock in 2000 and 2001.

    Defence lawyer Gerald Shargel argued the federal case against Wyatt was "entwined" with his opposition to both US-led wars against Iraq.

    Wyatt flew to Iraq with former Texas governor John Connally in December 1990 in a bid to free US citizens held in Baghdad just before the US operation to dislodge Iraqi forces that had invaded Kuwait earlier that year.

    They brought back some two dozen oil workers to Texas.

    Mr Shargel told the jury that tapes of Saddam speaking would be played during the trial. Saddam was hanged to death in December following his trial in Iraq for crimes against humanity.

    Mr Shargel will set out to prove Wyatt was a patriotic American whose advice was sought by nearly every US president from John F. Kennedy to Bill Clinton, but not the Bushes.

    Wyatt, a Democrat, was a "friend and confidant" of Republican presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, but "he was no friend or admirer of the other two presidents," George HW Bush and his son George W Bush, Mr Shargel said.

    "Mr Wyatt pleaded with the advisers of George HW Bush not to go to war and to resolve this peacefully," Mr Shargel said.

    "There were (peace) talks and negotiations under way that Oscar Wyatt was involved in."

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