Beto O’Rourke stripped from list for taking ‘dirty money’

In the wake of an investigative report showing he had accepted multiple contributions from oil and gas executives, Oil Change USA took Texas Democrat Beto O’Rourke’s name off the list of political candidates who promised to reject fossil fuel donations over $200.

Taking the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge means that a politician and their campaign will not knowingly accept any contributions over $200 from the PACs, executives, or front groups of fossil fuel companies — corporations whose primary business is the extraction, processing, distribution, or sale of oil, gas, or coal.

Among the 1,328 candidates who signed, 143 are in Texas and 12 are in New jersey.

Although the pledge was signed by such prominent progressive Democrats as Peter Jacob, Tanzie Youngblood, Lisa McCormick, and Jim Keady, no New Jersey elected officials have agreed to reject petrochemical money.

O’Rourke signed a pledge last April, promising to reject large donations from oil and gas “PACs, executives, or front groups of fossil fuel companies” but David Turnbull, strategic communications director at Oil Change USA, said the group removed his name from the list of signers after Sludge reported on Dec. 10 that the congressman had accepted dozens of contributions of over $200 from oil and gas executives.

Oil Change USA led that coalition of environmental and democracy organizations that created the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge.

“While we are pleased he hasn’t taken fossil fuel PAC money, he needs to go further in order to be in compliance with the full No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge,” said Turnbull. “We hope to speak with members of Beto’s organization to encourage Beto to sign on to the full No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge, including rejecting major contributions from top executives of fossil fuel companies.”

O’Rourke — a three-term Congressman from El Paso, Texas who failed to unseat Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz — is suddenly one of the hottest names in Democratic Party politics.

So hot, that the once-obscure representative is being widely considered as a viable contender for president.

A recent national poll of 1,952 registered voters conducted right after the November election, listed O’Rourke third, trailing only former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders among potential contenders for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

The pledge is important because climate change is already harming Americans today – from extreme weather to higher food and energy bills to increased public health threats.

The costs are borne by our families and our communities, destroying the American dream of shared prosperity and justice. Overcoming the climate emergency is the great moral imperative of our time.

In exchange for their cash, these companies expect to receive billions in subsidies and friendly laws that benefit polluters instead of people.

We need leaders that reject the influence of fossil fuel money and plan for a just, climate-safe, renewable energy future for everyone, not just the few. We must separate oil & state.

The pledge stipulates that in signing it, “a politician and their campaign will adopt a policy to not knowingly accept any contributions over $200 from the PACs, executives, or front groups of fossil fuel companies—companies whose primary business is the extraction, processing, distribution, or sale of oil, gas, or coal.”

Turnbull said that he believes O’Rourke, who signed the pledge in late April, thought it only barred oil and gas PAC donations, although the pledge used the language specifying “PACs, executives, or front groups of fossil fuel companies” as those whose money is not wanted.

It is common for Democrats in Congress to accept money from industries that profit at the expense of humanity and the environment.

Rep. Frank Pallone, the new Energy Committee chairman, received at least $178,000 from energy and natural resources interests over the past two years, but . Consequently, the New Jersey Democrat is a key opponent of the very aggressive approach to climate change that is advocated by New Yorker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Climate scientists have issued more and more urgent warnings of an impending global climate crisis, with entire cities underwater, others wiped out by forest fires, and millions of refugees struggling to survive.

Dirty fossil fuel money is corrupting our political system and blocking bold action to reverse the impact of climate change, with oil and gas companies spending more than $260 million in campaign contributions and lobbying Congress in the 2016 cycle.


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