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Fossil Fuel Investments and Hawkish Foreign Policy Among Serious Issues Progressives Have With Susan Rice as Possible VP Pick

"If you're a Democratic Party leader and you're still invested in oil and gas it’s just a problem."

Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice faces scrutiny from the left and the right ahead of Joe Biden's announcement of his vice presidential pick. (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

As Democrats await a vice presidential pick from party nominee Joe Biden, progressives are pointing to Susan Rice's past fossil fuel investments—including stock in the company behind the Keystone XL Pipeline—and her hawkish foreign policy as reasons to disqualify her from the running.

"The financial disclosure reports reflect at worst a conflict of interest, and at best, an indifference to a perception of a conflict of interest," Yasmine Taeb, senior policy counsel at Demand Progress told Politico which early Friday published a detailed account of some of Rice's financial holdings.

"It's troubling to see that Susan Rice has invested in so many companies that fuel climate change and in entities at odds with Democratic values," said Taeb.

"It's troubling to see that Susan Rice has invested in so many companies that fuel climate change and in entities at odds with Democratic values."
—Yasmine Taeb, Demand Progress

The fresh concern over Rice comes as reports indicate Biden could announce his choice for a running mate as early as this weekend.

Biden unveiled a $1.7 trillion climate plan in June that was celebrated by climate activists. The former vice president also said he would refuse campaign donations from fossil fuel executives and corporations in a bid to win over the party's more left-leaning supporters.

"It makes them look like hypocrites," Julian NoiseCat, a vice president of Data for Progress who formerly worked for the environmental group 350.org, told Politico of a potential Rice VP pick.

In March, during a Democratic primary debate, Biden said his administration would have a policy of "no new fracking."

"It raises my eyebrows to think the potential vice president of the United States would have financial ties, whether present or historical, that are exactly opposed 180 degrees to the president," NoiseCat told Politico, noting that Biden has also said he opposes the Keystone XL Pipeline. Rice has held stock in fossil fuel companies as recently as 2015, according to Too Much Information.

In addition to her TransCanada holdings, Too Much Information reported, "Rice also had over $1 million invested in pipeline firm Enbridge as well as more than $2 million split between fossil fuel companies Cenovus, Encana, and Imperial Oil—all companies with significant involvement in developing the tar sands of Alberta. The investments netted as much as $237,000 in dividends that year."

Combined with her husband, Rice's net worth is between $23 and $43 million, TMI reported. To the ire of anti-corporate progressives, Rice's professional past also includes working as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company, a firm that manages 90 of the world's 100 largest companies.

But potential environmental and corporate conflicts of interest aren't the only concerns of progressives. 

Given her notorious initial comments made in the wake of the Benghazi attack in 2012, Republican operatives have made clear they are salivating to use Rice's role in the incident to create another political circus around the attack like they did against Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Quoted by Politico, an unnamed Trump campaign official said Rice would be the GOP's "No. 1 draft pick."

Presented with Rice's history of fossil fuel investments and other possible conflicts of interest, Nebraska Democratic Party Chair Jane Kleeb, founder and president Bold Nebraska, which has long fought against Keystone XL, told Politico it was concerning given the current direction of the party.

"If you're a Democratic Party leader and you're still invested in oil and gas it's just a problem," Kleeb said.

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