Congressman Jamie Raskin

Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), speaks outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on January 5, 2024.

(Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images)

House Democrat Probes Trump's $1 Billion 'Quid Pro Quo' Deal With Big Oil

Rep. Jamie Raskin expressed concern that some firms, "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."

A top U.S. House Democrat announced Tuesday that he is demanding answers from fossil fuel executives after Washington Post reporting revealed last week that former Republican President Donald Trump recently told industry leaders he would gut climate regulations if they raised $1 billion for his 2024 presidential campaign.

Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin, ranking member of the Committee on Oversight and Accountability, on Monday wrote to the heads of the American Petroleum Institute (API) and eight companies: Cheniere Energy, Chesapeake Energy, Chevron, Continental Resources, EQT Corporation, ExxonMobil, Occidental Petroleum, and Venture Global LNG.

Raskin's letters note that the executives "appear to have attended" Trump's fundraising dinner at Mar-a-Lago in Florida last month and "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."

"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,'" he wrote, citing Politico. "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."

Raskin also highlighted findings from a January Oversight Committee Democrats staff report, which shows that "when Mr. Trump was in office, he accepted at least $7.8 million from kings, princes, and foreign states, including the People's Republic of China and Saudi Arabia, in blatant violation of the Constitution's foreign emoluments clause, and rendered a sequence of foreign policy favors to his patrons."

The congressman—and constitutional scholar—asked the executives to respond to questions and document requests by May 27. He is seeking the names of employees who attended the April 11 fundraiser, copies of materials distributed during the event, descriptions of all policy proposals and related campaign contributions discussed, and draft executive orders or policy paperwork prepared by members of the companies.

"The Committee on Oversight and Accountability is the principal oversight committee of the House of Representatives and has broad authority to investigate 'any matter' at 'any time,'" Raskin explained. "The requested information is needed to investigate and legislate on matters related to presidential and presidential-candidate ethics and to continue to address the major ethics crisis created by Donald Trump's efforts to profit off the presidency."

As Raskin released the letters on Tuesday, Media Matters for America's Allison Fisher pointed out that "unfortunately, over a four-day period, TV news broadcast and cable networks—with the exception of MSNBC—did not cover Trump's proposition to oil executives."

However, Trump has made his policy plans clear. Even before the fundraiser, he publicly pledged to "drill, baby, drill" if he beats Democratic President Joe Biden in November. One March analysis found that a second Trump term would lead to the release of 4 billion more tons of planet-heating carbon dioxide—the combined annual emissions of the European Union and Japan—by 2030 than if Biden were reelected.

The letters aren't the first time Raskin has taken aim at the fossil fuel industry this month. At the beginning of May, he testified before the U.S. Senate Budget Committee about a nearly three-year investigation into "Big Oil's campaign of deception and distraction," which he said "undermines the efforts we need to mobilize our people and government to save our climate, our habitat, and our species."

"Unless the deception ends, and until the industry is held accountable," the congressman warned, "we are unlikely ever to be able to muster the national political will to effectively tackle climate change."

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