Friday, February 12, 2016

Clinton Refuses to Pledge Not to Take Fossil Fuel Money


These are the agents of money. We call them lobbyists today, powers behind the throne. Size is a clue to relative importance (source; click to enlarge).

by Gaius Publius

Hillary Clinton has rejected a Greenpeace challenge to pledge not to accept campaign contributions from the coal, oil or natural gas industries. The Greenpeace pledge is here. In part it reads:
I will prove that I work for the people by refusing money from fossil fuel interests...
While her response to Greenpeace affirms the general goals of the pledge, she has refused to take it.

Greenpeace had argued (my emphasis):
“While Secretary Clinton’s commitment to reversing Citizens United and restoring the Voting Rights Act is admirable, she doesn’t have to wait that long to have an impact on our country’s money in politics crisis. She can start right now by rejecting fossil fuel money,” said Greenpeace USA Executive Director Annie Leonard. “That bold move would prove to everyone that Clinton not only knows that our democracy is broken, but that it is fixable.”
Instead, Clinton offered this:
In Clinton’s statement to Greenpeace, she says, “The fossil fuel companies know my agenda is to stop their agenda. I will take them on and win—and make sure America leads the fight against climate change.”
You can read Clinton's full statement at the end of the Greenpeace report.

How Much Money Has Clinton Taken from the Fossil Fuel Industry?

In these dark money days, it's hard to know for sure how much she's taken. According to, in her career Ms. Clinton has reportedly received $1,784,943 in individual and PAC contributions. This does not include contributions to super PACs supporting her three elections. (According to a recent Maddow show, Clinton at the moment has roughly the same cash on hand from campaign donations and as from super PACs — roughly $35 million from each source — implying that the contributions to each may be somewhat roughly balanced.)

And then there's her strong ties to fossil fuel lobbyists. From Paul Blumenthal writing last July at the Huffington Post (my emphasis throughout):
Hillary Clinton's Biggest Campaign Bundlers Are Fossil Fuel Lobbyists

Nearly all of the lobbyists bundling contributions for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign have at one time or another worked for the fossil fuel industry.

A list of 40 registered lobbyists that the Clinton camp disclosed to the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday revealed a number of Democratic Party lobbyists who have worked against regulations to curb climate change, advocated for offshore drilling, or sought government approval for natural gas exports.

Clinton, the former secretary of state, has called climate change the most “consequential, urgent, sweeping collection of challenges we face as a nation and a world” and says it would be a major focus of her administration if she wins the White House. But having so many supporters who have sold their services to fossil fuel companies may complicate her emphasis on pro-environment policies.
About those lobbyists, Blumenthal writes:
Scott Parven and Brian Pomper, lobbyists at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, have been registered to lobby for the Southern California-based oil giant Chevron since 2006, with contracts totaling more than $3 million. ...

The two Clinton bundlers also were part of a much-criticized campaign by Chevron to manipulate Congress into inserting language into the Andean Trade Preferences Act that would require Ecuador to dismiss a longstanding lawsuit against the company for polluting the Amazon jungle. Democratic lawmakers pushed back against the campaign and the lawsuit is continuing.
About the natural gas industry:
One prominent lobbying topic embraced by Clinton bundlers is the expansion of liquefied natural gas exports and federal approval of new LNG [liquified natural gas] terminals.

Ankit Desai, vice president for government relations at top LNG exporter Cheniere Energy, bundled $82,000 to the Clinton camp, with much of it coming from Cheniere Energy executives. Cheniere executives, including Desai, have donated $38,800 to Clinton’s campaign.

The company has lobbied hard in Washington and maintains close ties to the Obama administration. The company won the first approval to export gas to countries outside of U.S. free-trade agreements. The company is seeking approval to open additional terminals to export LNG, and will likely need a friend in the White House come 2017.
ExxonMobil is not left out:
ML Strategies’ David Leiter lobbied in 2014 on behalf of Sempra Energy when the company received approval for its LNG export facility in Hackberry, Louisiana. Leiter, who bundled $36,550 for Clinton’s campaign, also is a lobbyist for ExxonMobil. Steve Coll noted in a New Yorker article derived from his book on the oil giant, Private Empire, that Leiter, an ex-staffer to former Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), was retained, along with a host of others, to increase the company’s reach into the Democratic Party it had ignored for years.

ExxonMobil’s top lobbyist in Washington, Theresa Fariello, may not be a bundler for Clinton’s campaign, but she is a donor. Fariello, who was a Department of Energy official in President Bill Clinton’s administration, gave $2,700 to Clinton’s campaign. Another Washington-based Exxon lawyer, Judith Batty, donated $2,700. ...
Does Hillary Clinton know that "Exxon knew," that in fact that whole industry knew? So far we don't know. But do read the rest. There's more like this in the piece than I can reasonably quote.

Hillary Clinton, Fossil Fuel Lobbyists & the Donald

Yet Clinton gives us her word: "The fossil fuel companies know my agenda is to stop their agenda."

It's entirely possible she means it, but I guess we'll have to wait until after she's elected to see those words, that agenda, in action. I hope if she's the nominee, she gets that far.

Fair warning, though — it's not just the left that's all over this seeming contradiction. This is grist for the higher-traffic right-wing sites as well (example here). I can't imagine, therefore, that this won't be brought up — again and again and again — in a campaign against Donald Trump.

(Blue America has endorsed Bernie Sanders for president. If you'd like to help out, go here; you can adjust the split any way you like at the link. If you'd like to "phone-bank for Bernie," go here. You can volunteer in other ways by going here. And thanks!)


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At 10:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Um.. well.. she can't pledge to NOT take money when she's already indebted to them to the tune of a couple hunnert mil since her senate run.

Her agenda is exactly like their agenda. And obamanation's agenda. And every R's agenda. drill/frack/stripmine, baby, burn baby burn, kaching baby kaching.

She, like her husband and 95% of elected Ds, got elected because they never get in the way and help when they can (without totally self-immolating politically). Keystone would be pumping tar sands oil if not for the economics being awful now. But elect hilbillary and when the price/bbl goes high enough, you can bank on Keystone becoming a reality.

This should have been a big headline in papers and on the news... given her profound duplicity here... but the media has also a vested interest in buying her the whitehouse. Bernie isn't exactly a fan of media consolidation.


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