Sunset over an oil rig
Sunset over an oil rig in Huntington Beach, CA. Photo credit: Pete Markham / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Did Donald Trump and oil and gas executives strike a deal in which the latter would raise $1 billion for the former president’s campaign in return for a promise that he would then roll back environmental regulations? House Democrats want to know... and they have some questions for Big Oil.

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When news broke last week that Donald Trump promised oil and gas executives that, if they would raise $1 billion for him, he would roll back environmental regulations if elected, nobody should have been surprised. 

It’s entirely on brand for the former president to make such an offer. After all, it is highly unethical and potentially illegal, and the only thing that seems a bit out of character is that Trump is not trying to enrich himself personally. 

At the same time, it’s also on brand for oil and gas companies to do whatever it takes to make a buck. Usually, that happens at the expense of the environment.

That being said, the report raised some serious questions about any such agreement… and House Democrats are now asking them. 

“I write to request any information you may have about quid pro quo financial agreements related to US energy policy that were reportedly proposed at a recent campaign fundraising dinner with ex-President Donald Trump at his Mar-a-Lago Club that you appear to have attended,” Rep. Jaime Raskin (D-MD), the ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, wrote in a letter to nine oil and gas companies. “Media reports raise significant potential ethical, campaign finance, and legal issues that would flow from the effective sale of American energy and regulatory policy to commercial interests in return for large campaign contributions.”

Specifically, the lawmaker wants to know who attended the event at Mar-a-Lago in April, which policy proposals were discussed, and whether campaign contributions were discussed.

In addition, Raskin is asking for any materials provided to participants of the meeting, as well as the documents the companies themselves had prepared. 

Finally, he wants to know whether the companies themselves or individual attendees had undertaken any efforts to give money to Trump or his campaign.

It seems unlikely that the executives will jump at the opportunity to provide this information by the May 27 deadline. 

According to the reports, the former president suggested that $1 billion in donations would be a real bargain for these companies because of all of the money they could save by being allowed to pollute the environment at will. 

There are indications, including statements from the former president himself, that this would happen on Day 1 of Trump’s second term, and that the companies themselves might have a hand in coming up with more industry-friendly policies. 

“Mr. Trump’s unvarnished quid pro quo offer is especially troubling evidence in light of recent accounts that the ‘U.S. oil industry is drawing up ready-to-sign executive orders for Donald Trump aimed at pushing natural gas exports, cutting drilling costs and increasing offshore oil leases in case he wins a second term,’” Raskin wrote. “These preparatory actions suggest that certain oil and gas companies, which have a track record of using deceitful tactics to undermine effective climate policy may have already accepted or facilitated Mr. Trump’s explicit corrupt bargain.”


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