Following recent shocking revelations by Greenpeace UK’s Unearthed and Channel 4 News which captured current and former ExxonMobil lobbyists on video discussing the company’s role in blocking, delaying, and minimizing climate action in the United States, Oil Change U.S. has performed an in-depth analysis of ExxonMobil lobbyist campaign contributions to several Senate Democrats named in the video as top Exxon targets.

In short, ExxonMobil has hired lobbyists who have given hundreds of thousands of dollars to key Senate Democrats, and those lobbyists are now working to weaken President Biden’s infrastructure bill and maintain ExxonMobil’s billions in fossil fuel subsidies. 

Collectively, the six Democratic senators named in the video have received more than $330,000 in campaign contributions from currently registered ExxonMobil lobbyists and their political action committees. Each of the senators has received an average of more than $55,000 in campaign contributions from current ExxonMobil lobbyists; Sen. Jon Tester of Montana has received nearly $100,000 over his campaigns for office. ExxonMobil’s own political action committee (PAC) has contributed $29,000 to the six Democratic Senators.

The specific Senate Democrats named by current ExxonMobile lobbyist Keith McCoy are Senators Chris Coons of Delaware, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Mark Kelly of Arizona, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, and Jon Tester of Montana. Direct quotations from McCoy in the Greenpeace UK videos include: 

Joe Manchin, I talk to his office every week.” 

“We look for the moderates on [energy] issues. [Senator] Manchin. [Senator] Sinema. [Senator] Tester.”

“One of the others who isn’t talked about is Senator Coons from Delaware, who has a very close relationship with President Biden […] our CEO is talking to him next Tuesday.”

“[Senator] Hassan, [Senator] Kelly […] I know I have them […] they’re a captive audience.”

This list shows the campaign contributions and sources through which the six Democratic Senators named in the Greenpeace UK videos have taken hundreds of thousands of dollars: 

Chris Coons (D-DE) = $68,650 from 7 registered Exxon lobbyists, ExxonMobil PAC, and 4 Exxon lobbying firm PACs

Maggie Hassan (D-NH) = $26,699 from 5 registered Exxon lobbyists and 3 Exxon lobbying firm PACs

Mark Kelly (D-AZ) = $2,000 from 2 registered Exxon lobbyists

Joe Manchin (D-WV) = $64,864 from 7 registered Exxon lobbyists, ExxonMobil PAC, and 3 Exxon lobbying firm PACs

Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) = $70,800 from 8 registered Exxon lobbyists, ExxonMobil PAC, and 3 Exxon lobbying firm PACs

Jon Tester (D-MT) = $99,783 from 7 registered Exxon lobbyists, ExxonMobil PAC, and 4 Exxon lobbying firm PACs

TOTAL = $332,797 from 11 registered Exxon lobbyists, ExxonMobil PAC, and 4 Exxon lobbying firm PACs

In the videos, current ExxonMobil lobbyist McCoy and former ExxonMobil lobbyist Dan Easley discussed their long history of aiding ExxonMobil’s goals to boost the firm’s profits, escape meaningful regulation, maintain the massive existing U.S. subsidies to fossil fuel production in the upcoming budget reconciliation process, position gas as a “clean energy” and a part of the future energy mix in the United States, and avoid meaningful climate action of any sort, including by expressing support for a carbon tax they knew would never be enacted into law. 

Easley and McCoy go into significant detail boasting of the ease of their work during the Trump administration, and the huge benefit to Exxon of the massive corporate tax cuts in the Trump and GOP Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Easley openly pondered the damage that could be done to Exxon “in four years” by meaningful climate provisions, implying a strong desire to return to a Trump or GOP presidency in 2024. McCoy also bragged about his work to reduce the size and scope of the current infrastructure framework working its way through Capitol Hill, and Exxon’s goal to strip climate-related provisions from the bill and minimize its impacts. 

Some current ExxonMobil lobbyists have been especially generous to the Democratic senators they aim to influence — Russ Sullivan has given over $10,000 to these six Senators alone, Amy Tejral has given over $36,000 to this set, and Shannon Finley has given an astonishing total of more than $48,000 to the ‘#ExxonDems’ named in the video. 

This analysis of publicly available data only examines lobbyists who are currently registered to lobby for ExxonMobil as of 2021; it does not include contributions from the dozens of former ExxonMobil lobbyists who have lobbied these Senators earlier in their careers. Many current ExxonMobil lobbyists confine their political giving to the PAC realm, giving to either ExxonMobil’s PAC or their own lobbying firm’s PAC, which then makes contributions to candidates favored by the firm and its business interests. 

The primary take-away from this analysis: ExxonMobil has hired lobbyists and lobbying firms who have given hundreds of thousands of dollars to key Senate Democrats, and these same lobbyists are now working to preserve fossil fuel subsidies, weaken Joe Biden’s infrastructure package, and block climate action. Democrats must reject fossil fuel money, end fossil fuel subsidies, and fight hard for people, not for polluters wrecking the planet. 

Note: Lobbying data was obtained from the U.S. Senate and U.S. House lobbying disclosure databases. Campaign finance data was obtained from the Federal Election Commission (FEC) database. Data was accessed July 7-12, 2021.

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