The “No Fossil Fuel Pledge” seems simple, stating that the signer pledges, “not to take contributions over $200 from oil, gas, and coal industry executives, lobbyists [emphasis added], and PACS and instead to prioritize the health of our families, climate, and democracy over fossil fuel industry profits.” It is an important step in increasing funding transparency for those in political office, and those running for office, and I’m grateful to all those who have signed it. Current signers within the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation include both Senators Markey and Warren, and Representatives Joe Kennedy (for whom I volunteer), Jim McGovern, Seth Moulton, and Ayanna Pressley. Recently, Benjamin Kail of Mass Live published the news (which you can see here) that according to FEC records, Senator Markey (long defined by his signature advocacy for climate action) had broken this pledge and had accepted several thousand dollars in donations from lobbyists who represent fossil fuel interests. At that time, Senator Markey’s team denied that they had broken the pledge and refused to return the money. Then late last week, it got better and worse. It got better because Senator Markey agreed to return the donations, which I very much appreciate. I respect Senator Markey a great deal, and his decision to return the donations supports my continued respect for him. But it got worse because it turns out that Senator Markey’s campaign had accepted donations violating the Fossil Fuel Pledge well in excess of what was originally reported by Mass Live. In fact, according to both Mass Live (here) and Huffington Post (here), Senator Markey’s campaign had to return almost $47,000 worth of donations that violated the pledge. Also according to the more recent articles, his campaign seems to be implying that the Fossil Fuel Pledge is complicated and that they needed to carefully review it in order to discover the violations. This is despite the fact that the Fossil Fuel Pledge is one sentence long (included at the top of this post), and that one of the lobbyist groups that donated to Senator Markey’s campaign (Capitol Counsel LLC) is so proud of their fossil fuel representation that they include it at the bottom of their home page, against a bright red background, stating, “Our clients include…Chevron…Exxon Mobile…”. It seems to me that the conflict in accepting these donations would be pretty clear, and it represents some disappointing choices by Senator Markey and his team.
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