It’s no secret that the Republican Party does not believe in climate change, over the last decade or so, they have made that abundantly clear. During President Obama’s tenure as Commander-and-Chief, he has actively fought to reduce our emissions in an effort to reduce our damage to the planet, but the GOP has fought him every step of the way. It’s also no secret that the right actively fights to against climate change legislation, because they are stuffing their pockets with money from Big Oil. Now we are learning that Republican presidential candidates are reaping huge benefits from their pro-pollution policies.
The Guardian released their findings today, from a study they conducted with Greenpeace and the Center for Media and Democracy, that was based on filings from the Federal Election Commission which proved that the GOP is receiving an astronomical amount of money from the fossil fuel industries. Eight out of 17 candidates have had at least $62 million pumped into their campaigns from just 17 ultra-rich families and business connected to non-renewable energy companies.
Three of the Republican candidates have received the most money from these companies and they are also three of the most anti-environment candidates: Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz and Rick Perry.
Former Texas governor, Rick Perry, is the third largest recipient of money from the fossil fuel industry. The biggest super PAC supporting his campaign, Opportunity and Freedom, has been given $6 million from just one perso-: Kelsy Warren. Not only has Warren donated the most money, but he employs Rick Perry on the board of his oil and natural gas company, Energy Transfer Partners. In return for his very generous campaign contributions, Perry hired Warren to work as his campaign finance chairman.
The former governor has a long history of denying the existence of climate change. During Perry’s 2012 failed bid for the White House, he claimed that scientists were lying about global warming when he said,”There are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects.” He has also said that he would eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency if he were elected to the Oval Office. His solution for a destructive drought that hit his state when he was governor, was to issue an official proclamation praying for rain. His prayers went unanswered and his state stayed in a persistent drought for months after his “Days of Prayer.”
Former Florida governor and GOP presidential favorite, Jeb Bush, is the second largest receiver of money from the destructive industry. Bush’s super PACs have been given more than $13 million from just nine donors. One of his largest donors — $2 million — is Frank Rooney, of Rooney Holdings. Rooney serves on the boards of two oil and gas companies: Laredo Petroleum and Helmerich & Payne Inc. The latter is one of the world’s largest offshore drilling contractors. The Guardian explains who some of his other mega-rich donors are:
Richard Kinder, co-founder of Kinder Morgan, an energy infrastructure company that owns 84,000 miles of pipeline; the oil magnate Trevor Rees-Jones; and Dallas oil billionaire Ray Hunt.
Jeb Bush has said in the past that he believes that the climate is changing, but he doesn’t really know what is causing it. “The climate is changing, whether men are doing it or not,” he said during his first campaign stop. So even though he tries to sound more reasonable than the other members of his party, he still ignores the fact that the vast majority of the world’s scientists are telling him that humans are causing the damage to the atmosphere.
Finally, the first biggest recipient of money from the industries causing the most destruction to the earth is Senator Ted Cruz. The Texas Senator is, perhaps, the biggest climate change-denier in the government, so it makes sense that he is also reaping the most from his denials.
Cruz has received $36.5 million from just FOUR wealthy donors from the industry; that’s more than half of all the given to all of the candidates. The elite Wilks family of Texas have given $15 million to his super PACs. The Wilks family founded, Frac Tech, a company that makes the equipment needed for fracking. Another donor gave Cruz $11 million:
Robert Mercer, a hedge-fund manager based in Long Island, has given a whopping $11m to Cruz Super Pacs. Mercer’s fund, Renaissance Technologies,has major financial interests in big oil companies such as ExxonMobil, Chevron,Callon Petroleum and China Petroleum & Chemical Corp.
Clearly Ted Cruz’s denial of climate change has been very, very profitable for him and deny he does. “Today, the global warming alarmists are the equivalent of the flat-Earthers,” according to the senator. He also said,”The last 15 years, there has been no recorded warming. Contrary to all the theories that – that they are expounding, there should have been warming over the last 15 years. It hasn’t happened.” these are just two of a plethora of statements by Cruz.
The other Republican candidates receiving money are:
“Carly Fiorina ($.2m), Lindsey Graham ($1m), Bobby Jindal ($1.2m), Donald Trump ($1.8m) and Scott Walker ($1.8m).”
Republicans are the sole receivers of donations from the pollution industry. They haven’t given money to the Democratic candidates, because they know our candidates are not going to damage our environment further, so they have no reason to spend money on Bernie Sander, Hillary Clinton or the other candidates on the left.
So the question becomes: What do these donors hope to receive in return for all of the money they are sending? David Keating, president of the Center for Competitive Politics, says nothing:
“way too much was read into numbers like these. Most people at this stage of the election cycle are giving because they believe in what the candidate stands for and their policies, rather than because they are trying to influence those policies.”
Connor Gibson, the Greenpeace researcher who oversaw the Greenpeace/Center for Media and Democracy study, does not agree:
“To see so much money flowing into the war chests of viable Republican candidates so early in the race from people linked to climate change pollution is very concerning…Will these candidates be expected to roll back federal oversight and regulation of fracking and methane leaks? Will they be more likely to allow drilling in the Arctic at a time when scientists are warning that fossil fuels must be kept in the ground?”
It’s very clear at this point that the donations are not for what the candidates believe in but to dictate what the candidates believe in. Denying climate change and disseminating ignorance among the voting base represents massive profits for the fossil fuel industry. They realize their time is running short, and will stop at nothing to milk the most that they can from our people and our land. It’s far beyond time we put a stop to the pernicious influence of dark money in our politics.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.