When there’s corruption, you can be sure there’s fuel from the big oil donors. On August 10, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and its reigning Chairman Tom Perez overwhelmingly passed a resolution that effectively reverses the ban on fossil fuel donations going towards funding elections.
According to a new report published by The Huffington Post, the resolution was passed by the DNC’s leading members with a vehement 30–2 vote, during a time in which wildfires — arguably caused by climate-change — continue to decimate the country’s majority blue states on the West Coast. This is a complete reversal of a June pledge brought forth by Christine Pelosi, a party activist and the daughter of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, restricting any and all contributions from business PACs tied to the fossil fuel industry.
The DNC is trying to frame this pro-corporatist move as populist using familiar pro-worker rhetoric: “[We] welcome the longstanding and generous contributions of workers,” the resolution concludes, “including those in energy and related industries, who organize and donate to Democratic candidates individually or through their unions’ or employers’ [PACs].”
So, to translate through the bureaucratic bullshit, the DNC has just declared they’re willing to take the money of both the common worker and their uncommon, all-powerful employer, each holding diametrically opposing interests for the country’s future. This is evidenced in the big oil hostility and violence towards union efforts, shown through a PBS investigation among other reports. So how can this unity possibly go wrong? Isn’t it just nice of the “party of the working class” to have a tent so big it allows the enemies of workers into the fold? After all, it’s only the voice of minimum wagers being outshined by the overwhelming mountains of cash from executives at their head offices. Just move along, purity testers! Give me a break…
The resolution wants voters to think of the poor “forward-looking employers” that are “powering America’s all-of-the-above energy economy and moving us towards a future fuelled by clean and low-emissions energy technology,” citing “[those] from renewables to carbon capture and storage to advanced nuclear technology.” I mean, how would Democrats cope without having the monied support of multi-national corporations and their executives who don’t work towards those forms of clean energy production?
Welcome to the DNC’s “all-of-the-above” energy strategy, folks, where big oil donations go towards clean energy initiatives curbing climate change. I’m sure that’s very believable and not contradictory in the slightest.
DNC spokesperson Xochitl Hinojosa continued this narrative when talking to The Huffington Post, insisting this decision was only made after “hearing concerns from Labor that this was an attack on workers” in the industry. Except it wasn’t. The ban only restricted PACs tied to the executives from the industry from donating to the DNC. The Intercept notes that Hinojosa has refused to answer questions about which unions in particular pushed for the recent rule change.
My guess is none, but hey, that’s just me.
Some unions and pro-environmentalist SuperPACs have opposed the move.
Chuck Idelson, a spokesperson for the National Nurses United, a progressive union that endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) during the 2016 presidential primary, declared the proposal was a “blatant appeal to contributions from the fossil fuel industry, which is gorged with profits that they make off destroying the planet and poisoning working people,” according to comments he gave to The Intercept last week.
“I am furious that the DNC would effectively undo a resolution passed just two months ago just as the movement to ban fossil fuel corporate PAC money is growing (and Democrats are winning),” R.L. Miller, the president of the ‘Climate Hawks Vote’ SuperPAC, who co-sponsored the original resolution, said in a statement cited by The Huffington Post. “Smart Democrats are very good at splitting hairs and nitpicking,” Miller continued, arguing this pro-worker framing is just masking for their true centrist intentions. “It’s just trying to manufacture distinctions out of whole cloth.”
The DNC tried to trick the left-wing base with some legal mumbo-jumbo about the Supreme Court decision in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), calling it “the result of blatant and disgraceful union busting that could slam the door on millions of hard-working Americans trying to make it into and stay in the middle class.”
This could very well be true, but it doesn’t restrict working-class voters from the liberty of donating to the DNC. Or any voter donating to the DNC, for that matter, regardless of whether the June proposal was in place or not. Their best argument is literally “not an argument.” It’s a lie about fictional campaign finance restrictions that aren’t enforced, let alone being proposed by anyone within the DNC, progressive or neo-liberal.
The Pelosi proposal only states it would “restrict corporate PAC contributions from the fossil fuel industry,” while making no mention of individual donations from fossil fuel company employees or their unions outside of the decision to cap their donations to $200 at a time. This move only changes exactly how much individuals and their employers can give through, effectively, campaign bribes.
It’d be one thing if they made the argument they need these bribes for their electoral wins. This comes with the obvious risk of selling out your agenda for that of your donors. If it’s Soros or the Koch Brothers that are the ones signing your lavish cheques, it’s a stretch to say you’re the one controlling them. It’s another thing when you have to lie about what you’re doing in order to sell your agenda to your base. They could tell the truth, trying to win this debate on its merits, but it wouldn’t look very populist if they did, so go figure.
There remains a war within the Democratic Party, but even some of the party establishment’s more neo-liberal candidates, who are slowly losing seats election after election, know better than to have their face alongside the money of big oil. The Intercept’s journalist Kate Aronoff notes that well over 900 Democratic candidates have signed the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge, each “swearing off donations from coal, oil, and gas companies” from influencing their campaigns. This pledge need not apply to the DNC. In 2016, the energy and natural resources companies gave $2.6 million directly to the DNC, according to Open Secrets. Now they’re crawling back to the donors after two months of going cold turkey from their last monied hit.
Let’s be honest about their agenda:
The DNC, now brought to you by Big Oil™.