Fossil Fuel Tycoons Spending Millions to Elect GOP President
Climate denier Ted Cruz was biggest beneficiary of the industry's donation blitz, analysis of federal election data finds
Fossil fuel companies donated more than $100 million to Republican presidential candidates' campaigns last year, an unprecedented investment by those "who stand to lose the most in the fight against climate change," a joint analysis by Greenpeace and the Guardian published Thursday has revealed.
The analysis of Federal Election Commission data found that 124 "megadonors," all of whom have financial or professional ties to the industry, donated about $107 million to right-leaning Super PACs in 2015—before a single vote was even cast in the GOP primary season. Super PACs are allowed to take in unlimited campaign donations.
As Greenpeace pointed out, that means every one in three dollars spent by the 124 biggest backers can be traced back in part to coal, oil, and gas.
Groups backing Ted Cruz took in about $25 million from fossil fuel interests, making him the biggest beneficiary of the industry's donation blitz.
Cruz, who is widely seen as the Republicans' best chance at intercepting Donald Trump's meteoric rise to clinch the GOP nomination, openly denies climate science and has said he believes it is a fictional notion created by "liberal politicians who want government power over the economy, the energy sector and every aspect of our lives."
For what it's worth, Cruz's go-to temperature data was recently revised to reflect the scientific consensus, making his favorite chart "obsolete," the Guardian reported separately.
Jesse Coleman, a Greenpeace oil and gas campaigner, said of the organization's findings on Thursday, "Ted Cruz’s complete denial of climate change science is perfectly in line with the business interests of his biggest funders. These fossil funders have made denying climate change and ignoring scientists a prerequisite for being a Republican candidate."
However, Coleman added, "While Donald Trump, also a climate change denier, is mostly self-funded for now, he will look to the fossil fuel industry for political support if he wins the nomination. Mr. Trump also has millions of dollars directly invested in the fossil fuel industry."
The Guardian notes, "Campaign groups say the big spending by fossil fuel interests—and some candidates’ heavy reliance on them—raises questions about the leverage fossil fuel companies may try to exert over the White House if the next occupant is a Republican."
The top contribution came from the Texas-based Wilks family—headed by a pair of brothers, Dan and Farris, who made billions by selling equipment to fracking operations—who gave a total of $15.25 million to the Keep the Promise Super PAC, which backs Cruz.
Meanwhile, Ken Griffin, one of the wealthiest hedge fund managers in the world, gave $2.6 million to the Conservative Solutions PAC, which supports Marco Rubio, as well as Koch brothers' group Freedom Partners and the organization ESAFUND, which has released ads targeting Bernie Sanders, who refuses to take money from Super PACs and is a strong supporter of climate action.
The investigation notes, however, that it is not just Republicans reaping the benefits of the fossil fuel industry. Hillary Clinton also took in about 7 percent of the donations last year, earning criticism from her Democratic opponent and voters alike.