Sunday, August 09, 2020

Oiling the election machine

Oil pipeline billionaire Kelcy Warren hosted a fundraising bash at his palatial Dallas, Texas, home that drew the presence of Donald Trump and raised $10m for the US president’s campaign coffers.
Warren’s fundraising gusher for Trump occurred after he and his wife had donated a hefty $1.7m since 2019 to Trump Victory, a fundraising vehicle for Trump’s re-election and the Republican National Committee.
Warren’s company Energy Transfer notched a major win soon after Trump took office, winning regulatory approval to move ahead with the controversial and legally embattled Dakota Access pipeline.
 Fossil fuel billionaires and other energy moguls from Texas to New York to Oklahoma, have opened their wallets wide and raised cash to re-elect Trump, after three-plus years of enjoying Trump’s sweeping energy deregulation and tax cuts.  Trump in mid-July announced major changes to the landmark National Environmental Policy Act to help speed up reviews for large pipeline and infrastructure projects.
“The fossil fuel industry and its leaders will continue to support Donald Trump because he will do anything he can to continue fossil fuel dominance of the American energy sector,” said David Bookbinder, the general counsel for the non-partisan Niskanen Center,
 Super Pac, America First Action, has raked in millions of fossil fuel dollars. The Super Pac has received $1m from the shale oil billionaire Harold Hamm and his company Continental Resources, and another $1m from the coal mogul Robert Murray, who runs the eponymous Murray Energy, according to Open Secrets.
The Super Pac has also pulled in $500,000 from the coal billionaire Joe Craft of Alliance Resource Partners, $750,000 from the Texas oilman Syed Javaid Anwar of Midland Energy, and $500,000 from John Catsimatidis, a top investor in United Refining Co, as Open Secrets and news reports show.
 In early April when the pandemic was causing them economic pain. Trump huddled at the White House with a select group of industry moguls including Hamm, Warren and the Texas oilman Jeff Hildebrand to solicit ideas for new federal relief. Afterwards, Trump pledged he would “make funds available to these very important companies”.
Hildebrand has given big bucks to help Trump. Hildebrand, who runs the Hilcorp Oil, and his wife have given $775,000 to the Trump campaign and allied committees since 2017, campaign records show.
On 29 July, Trump returned to Texas for more fundraisers in the fracking stronghold of Odessa which reportedly was expected to haul in $7m for Trump Victory. 
Trump’s visit also showcased his oil industry bona fides by visiting and getting a photo op with two CEOs at a leading fracking company, Double Eagle Energy Oil Rig, in Midland where he enthused there were “a lot of big beautiful rights behind me”.
For $100,000 donors could join a roundtable policy discussion with Trump, and two top cabinet officials from energy and interior.
 Trump Victory, the joint fundraising committee of Trump’s campaign and the RNC, has raked in $9.3m from fossil fuel donors in 2019-2020, while its counterpart Biden Victory has raised a meager $40,465 from fossil fuel donors in the same period.
Bill Miller, a major industry lobbyist and consultant in Austin, told the Associated Press that  “It’s the kind of industry that remembers their friends through thick and thin, and Trump is their friend.”

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