Big oil brags about successfully buying the 2018 election (sort of)

  • Published on January 29th, 2019

It’s no secret that the fossil fuel industry spends oodles of money to influence the public. Rarely, though, do they take credit for manipulating democracy so that it may serve their private profit better than the public interest. After all, admitting that your industry has more or less bought off the political establishment is a little…dystopian.

big oil influence

By Climate Denier Roundup

But in their dystopian myopia, that’s exactly what’s happened. In an apparent “exclusive” (or so the headline says), the Daily Caller’s Michael Bastasch does his job as a scribe for the fossil fuel industry, and “reports” that most of the candidates in 2018 who signed the “No fossil fuel money” pledge were not elected. (Those who signed and were elected, Bastasch notes, includes 11 of the 33 Dems who flipped the House, like progressives Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ro Khanna of California, and a relatively unknown young upstart you probably haven’t heard of who goes by the name of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.)

The source for Bastasch’s “exclusive” is the Environmental Policy Alliance, a front group run by public relations firm Berman & Co. The firm’s namesake is Rick Berman, the PR man known as “Dr. Evil” for his career spent working on behalf of big business. For example, Berman’s attacked groups like the Humane Society and Mothers Against Drunk Driving in the service of Big Ag and Big Alcohol clients–apparently treating animals well is bad and drunk driving is good. (To Bastasch’s credit, he does mention that the Alliance is a project of Berman & Co, though obviously he doesn’t actually disclose who’s paying for Berman’s service.)

These are the folks who showed Bastasch an “exclusive” list of 430 candidates who signed the “No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge.” Of those 430, only 28 won their elections. Put another way, the fossil fuel industry seems to be suggesting that its support is critical to win elections, and that its money is a key influencer of the democratic process.

Of course that’s not how they present it, though. Bastasch quoted Berman’s PR agent saying that the 2018 results show how the “radical environmental agenda is a loser with the electorate.”

But at the end of the story, Bastasch also quotes Josh Stanfield of Activate Virginia, one of the many local groups involved with the pledge. “If you want to avoid the perception of spin and a disingenuous treatment of the numbers,” Stanfield points out, “please consider: how many of those candidates were running in districts considered ‘winnable’ at all?”

citizens united vs democracy by donkeyhotey

You’ll be shocked, dear reader, to learn that such a comparison is not provided. Apparently when the fossil fuel industry takes to a fossil-fuel funded website to brag about buying democracy, it feels no need to “avoid the perception of spin and a disingenuous treatment of the numbers.”

(Crossposted from DailyKos.)


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