Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Fossil Fuel Industries Pumped Millions Into Trump's Inauguration, Filing Shows

By Marianne Lavelle
April 19, 2017

Fossil fuel companies were not big donors to Donald Trump's presidential campaign, but they helped him shatter records in raising money for his inauguration festivities, according to new disclosures filed at the Federal Election Commission.

More than 1,500 corporations and individuals gave a total $107 million to the presidential inaugural committee. That is more than double the $53 million raised for President Barack Obama's then record-breaking inaugural in 2009.

Among the big donors were Chevron, which gave $525,000; Exxon, BP and Citgo Petroleum, which each donated $500,000; and the Ohio-based coal company Murray Energy, which contributed $300,000. Kelcy Warren, the chief executive of Energy Transfer Partners, developer of the Dakota Access pipeline, gave $250,000. Continental Resources, the Oklahoma-based fracking company whose chief executive Harold Hamm was an early Trump supporter, gave $100,000.

Those seven donations alone surpass the $2 million that the Trump campaign raised from the energy and natural resources industry before the election, according to the tally by the Center for Responsive Politics. (In contrast, Republican Mitt Romney raised $13 million from the sector in his 2012 presidential bid.)

The Trump team's inauguration fundraising blitz raises red flags for those concerned about the influence of money in politics. "It's very clear the reason a corporation would seek to make a contribution to an inauguration is that they are making a business investment," said Tyson Slocum, head of the energy program at Washington watchdog Public Citizen. "And they are expecting a financial return on their investment in the form of access, or when they are pushing for specific legislative and regulatory priorities."

The Trump inaugural committee offered top donors perks such as access to cabinet appointees at "leadership luncheons" and other events.

The fossil fuel industry certatinly wasn't the only sector contributing to the inauguration festivities. The committee recorded big donations from Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson ($5 million), Microsoft ($500,000), American Financial Group ($500,000) and the health insurer Anthem ($100,000), among many others.


In addition to fossil fuel companies, some of the larger donors to the Trump inauguration were private equity titans who have major investments in oil, gas and coal. Contributing $1 million each to the inauguration were: Henry Kravis, co-chairman and CEO of KKR, a major energy company investor, and Paul Singer of Elliott Management, whose firm has stakes in Marathon Petroleum, Hess Oil and BHP Billiton. Private equity firms poured $20 billion into investments in U.S. shale oil and gas production in the first quarter of this year, indicating they are betting on big growth for the sector, despite low oil and gas prices, according to financial data firm Preqin.


Other energy companies that gave at least $100,000 to the Trump inauguration include Xcel Energy, one of the nation's largest utilities; White Stallion Energy of Houston, an oil and gas company; Consol Energy, a coal and natural gas company; and Cheniere Energy, a natural gas exporter.

The inaugural committee also garnered donations from the renewable energy industry, including $1 million from the Nebraska ethanol firm Green Plains Renewable Energy and $250,000 from NextEra Energy of Florida, the parent company of Florida Power & Light, which has mostly natural gas and nuclear power plants, but also a large amount of wind and solar generation.

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