Skip to main content

Why are the billionaires always laughing?

Because they know the corporate media will never call bullshit on their bullshit.

Why are the billionaires laughing?

It’s easy to laugh when the corporate press treats you as a glorious success instead of the epitome of a broken social order. They laugh because they know the corporate media prefers to fawn over them rather than hold them to account.

Today, we ask you to support our nonprofit journalism because we are not impressed by billionaires flying into space, their corporations despoiling our health and planet, or their vast fortunes safely concealed in tax havens across the globe. We are not laughing.

We are hard at work digging out the truth. Please support this independent journalism today by donating to our critical Fall Campaign. We cannot do it without you. Thank you. -- Craig Brown, Co-founder

Support Our Work -- Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Every donation—large or small—helps us bring you the news that matters.

Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) has received more than $2.25 million in donations from the fossil fuel industry and assorted allies since 2015, including $100,000 from Exxon alone. (Photo: 드림포유/flickr/cc)

Groups Slam Republican AGs Big Oil Collusion to Protect ExxonMobil

'This is a smoking gun when it comes to fossil fuel industry corruption'

Nadia Prupis

Environmental and advocacy groups on Thursday responded to recent reports that Republican attorneys general colluded with fossil fuel lobbyists to shield ExxonMobil from fraud investigations, saying the revelations were a clear case of industry corruption.

"Republican attorneys general are working for Exxon," said R.L. Miller, co-founder of Climate Hawks Vote. "Silly me, I thought they were supposed to be working for the people."

"RAGA is facilitating secret meetings between the profit-motivated fossil fuel industry and attorneys general...and then raising money from oil and gas companies to keep those same Republican attorneys general in office."
—Nick Surgey,
Center for Media and Democracy

The corporate accountability group PR Watch, part of the Center for Media and Democracy, on Tuesday published undisclosed notes from secret meetings held in July between the 13 Republican AGs and representatives from the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), discussing the ongoing investigation into ExxonMobil's decades-long campaign to suppress climate science. The meetings took place at the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) annual summit in Colorado.

"The recently-exposed collusion between Republican attorneys general and fossil fuel lobbyists exemplifies exactly why we need to kick big polluters out of climate policymaking," said Katherine Sawyer, senior international organizer at Corporate Accountability International. "These attorneys general have a duty to serve the people, not the interests of fossil fuel corporations. It is unconscionable that financial contributions and closed-door meetings may have persuaded these attorneys general to turn a blind eye to Exxon's decades of climate deception."

In an audio recording of one of the meetings, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange introduces leading climate skeptic—and head of Donald Trump's energy team—Myron Ebell, who tells the audience, "So right now the climate inquisition is in retreat," naming a number of the Democratic attorneys general investigating the oil and gas giant with updates on their progress.

"It is unconscionable that financial contributions and closed-door meetings may have persuaded these attorneys general to turn a blind eye to Exxon's decades of climate deception."
—Katherine Sawyer,
Corporate Accountability International

"Claude Walker, the Virgin Islands AG has been pushed back. Maura Healey has been somewhat pushed back. Kamala Harris is running for governor and she has gone quiet at least for the moment. But Eric Schneiderman in New York has the Martin Act, which is much more powerful," Ebell says, referring to the New York law that gives a wide berth of power and discretion to AGs investigating financial fraud.

Claiming Schneiderman had been "rattled" by a letter sent in June from Republican AGs stating that the Exxon investigation infringed on the corporation's First Amendment rights, Ebell added, "So we need to keep pushing that. We need to keep saying this is a matter of constitutional rights."

As the green groups noted in their response on Thursday, RAGA has also received more than $2.25 million in donations from the fossil fuel industry and assorted allies since 2015, including $100,000 from Exxon alone.

"The great irony here is that we have heard false cries from the Republican attorneys general about a conspiracy between environmental groups and the Democratic attorneys generals," said Nick Surgey, research director of the Center for Media and Democracy. "But these documents reveal a serious conflict of interest: RAGA is facilitating secret meetings between the profit-motivated fossil fuel industry and attorneys general to engineer pushback on investigations of ExxonMobil—and then raising money from oil and gas companies to keep those same Republican attorneys general in office."

Later in the recording, Strange closes out the meeting by telling the audience of lobbyists, "we appreciate your presence here and your participation in this debate. We are winning now. I think [that] our fellow AGs that are on the other side here have pulled back to say this is going to be a long, standing effort that we need to be engaged in and be diligent about it."

Jamie Henn, spokesperson for 350.org Action, said the recordings and other reports are "a smoking gun when it comes to fossil fuel industry corruption. These recordings are more evidence that Big Oil is bankrolling Republican attorneys general's attacks on climate legislation and the Exxon Knew investigation. It's just like Big Tobacco, but this time the entire planet is at stake."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Schumer Endorses 'Inspiring Community Leader' India Walton as Buffalo's Next Mayor

The U.S. Senate majority leader's move comes as some key New York Democrats refuse to back the democratic socialist.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Who Will You Throw Overboard?' Manchin Targeted for Trying to Sink Democratic Agenda

West Virginians gathered at the senator's yacht to demand that he stop blocking the "popular and needed" Build Back Better package.

Jessica Corbett ·


'We Shouldn't Do It at All': Manchin Admits He's the Enemy of Democrats' Ambitions

The right-wing West Virginia Democrat and fossil fuel investor has previously confessed his intent to quash his own party's sweeping $3.5 trillion Build Back Better package.

Brett Wilkins ·


After Getting 'Stealth Bailout' During Pandemic, US Corporations Try to Kill Proposed Tax Hikes

"When it's time to finally put workers first, big businesses are spending millions to maintain their advantage and preserve the status quo," said Kyle Herrig of Accountable.US.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Disgraceful': Just 9 Republicans Join With Dems to Hold Steve Bannon in Criminal Contempt

The vote "reveals just how far the Republican Party has fallen" since Trump took control as GOP's de facto leader, said one pro-democracy advocate.

Jon Queally ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo