House Majority Leader Steve Scalise in a blue suit pointing

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) gestures during the January 20, 2023 March for Life in Washington, D.C.

(Photo: American Life League/Flickr/cc)

Scalise Took $40K in Campaign Cash From PAC of CEO Accused of Oil Price Rigging

"Big Oil CEOs are out for themselves and the politicians who support their quest to drill for profit at the expense of the American people," said a spokesperson for Accountable.US, which highlighted the donation.

U.S. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise received a $40,000 campaign donation from the political action committee of a Big Oil CEO who allegedly colluded with the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to drive up energy prices, the watchdog Accountable.US noted Monday.

Scalise (R-La.)—who has made opposing efforts to protect public lands from fossil fuel drilling a top legislative priority—took the money from the Williams Companies PAC, whose board includes Pioneer Natural Resources CEO Scott Sheffield, who was accused last month by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of holding private conversations with the OPEC cartel in which he allegedly assured members that his company would throttle production, creating an artificial scarcity in a bid to boost oil prices.

The majority leader ranks fourth among all House lawmakers in 2023-24 campaign contributions from oil and gas interests, according to the watchdog OpenSecrets. His $325,833 in Big Oil contributions trails only Rep. August Pfluger (R-Texas), who took $572,421; former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who received $335,399; and House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), who got $328,019.

"If Congressman Scalise wants to protect American consumers he should start by holding accountable Big Oil price gougers."

"Big Oil CEOs are out for themselves and the politicians who support their quest to drill for profit at the expense of the American people," Accountable.US spokesperson Chris Marshall said in a statement Monday. "So if Congressman Scalise wants to protect American consumers he should start by holding accountable Big Oil price gougers."

The FTC alleges in a complaint that "Sheffield has, through public statements and private communications, attempted to collude with the representatives of [OPEC] and a related cartel of other oil-producing countries known as OPEC+ to reduce output of oil and gas, which would result in Americans paying higher prices at the pump, to inflate profits for his company."

The regulator subsequently barred Sheffield from joining the board of ExxonMobil, which bought Pioneer, over the alleged collusion.

"Mr. Sheffield's past conduct makes it crystal clear that he should be nowhere near Exxon's boardroom," FTC Bureau of Competition Deputy Director Kyle Mach said in a statement last month. "American consumers shouldn't pay unfair prices at the pump simply to pad a corporate executive's pocketbook."

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer took to the upper chamber's floor Monday to reiterate his call for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate Big Oil collusion and price fixing.

"It's not hard to feel the frustration—the sheer exasperation—felt by millions when America's biggest oil companies rake in record profits but still raise prices at the pump. It is deeply, deeply unfair—and now we have reason to believe that in some cases it may be unlawful," the senator said.

Schumer called the FTC allegations against Sheffield "very, very troubling."

"This is what frustrates Americans so much about Big Oil: Even when they're making money hand over fist they'll keep raising prices on us, they will keep squeezing us for everything we've got," he said. "And now they may—may—have crossed the line into unlawful behavior."

"So the DOJ needs to step in and determine if any laws against collusion or price-fixing have been broken," Schumer added. "At minimum, the American people deserve to know if Big Oil executives are conspiring with each other or with OPEC behind our backs to illegally raise prices at the pump."

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