The billionaire Koch brothers and their fossil industry allies got their money’s worth in the lead-up to Donald Trump’s Paris decision last week, when 22 U.S. senators who’d received more than US$10 million in oil, gas, and coal money over the last five years urged their political ally to dump the Paris agreement, EcoWatch reports.
The Guardian has the breakdown of the funds to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX), Senate Energy & Commerce Chair John Barrasso (R-WY), leading climate denier James Inhofe (R-OK), and a list of other senators who signed a letter urging Trump to quit the landmark global climate deal. But “that sum does not even come close to the amount of undisclosed funds coming from the deep pockets of Charles and David Koch’s coal, oil and gas conglomerate, Koch Industries, and other outside groups,” EcoWatch notes.
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“Visible donations to Republicans from those industries exceeded donations to Democrats in the 2016 election cycle by a ratio of 15:1,” the Guardian states, citing the U.S. Center for Responsive Politics. But beyond that, “at least $90 million in untraceable money has been funneled to Republican candidates from oil, gas, and coal interests in the past three election cycles,” according to the Center’s analysis of Federal Election Commission disclosures.
“This is the victory paid and carried out for 20 years by two people, David and Charles Koch,” said Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Columbia University Earth Institute. “They have bought and purchased the top of the Republican party. Trump is a tool in this.”
Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) reinforced the point in an appearance on MSNBC. “This Conservative party in the United States is funded by the Koch brothers [and] it’s funded by the coal industry,” Markey said. “[They] insisted that Scott Pruitt—the attorney general of Oklahoma who actually sued the EPA 19 times on clean air, clean water, soot, mercury issues—become the head of the EPA in our country.”
On Saturday, the New York Times published a deeper dive into the political calculations and directed donations that shifted the U.S. Republican Party from supporting climate action as recently as 2008 to declaring it a hoax less than a decade later.
“Most Republicans still do not regard climate change as a hoax,” said party strategist Whit Ayres. “But the entire climate change debate has now been caught up in the broader polarization of American politics. In some ways, it’s become yet another of the long list of litmus test issues that determine whether or not you’re a good Republican.”