Oil And Gas Lobbyists Are Supporting Hillary Clinton’s Campaign

Hillary Clinton by Donkey Hotey for Flickr.com (Creative Commons)

Lobbyists connected to fossil fuel firms are acting as bundlers for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign based on documents uploaded by journalist Lee Fang.

In a post for The Intercept, Fang highlighted how private prison lobbyists were helping raise money for Clinton’s campaign. Interestingly, the documents also highlight lobbyists—who also have gone through the revolving door—working on behalf of oil and gas companies.

Bundlers, as noted by Fang, “collect contributions on behalf of a campaign, and are often rewarded with special favors, such as access to the candidate.”

Tony Podesta, who lobbied the White House in 2013 to push for liquefied natural gas exports, is one bundler for the campaign. Moreover, he is the brother of John Podesta, a former White House official who recently worked with President Barack Obama on environmental issues. Currently, Podesta chairs Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Ankit Desai, vice president of government relations at Cheniere Energy, also is a registered bundler. Desai is a former government official who worked for then-Senator Joseph Biden and worked on John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign.

Cheniere Energy, as noted by Fang and journalist Steve Horn in a report last year, received the first permit by the Obama administration in 2012 to export liquefied natural gas after lobbying White House officials.

Hillary Clinton is no stranger to natural gas as, while Secretary of State under the Obama administration, she pushed for shale gas development overseas. Journalist Mariah Blake, for Mother Jones, highlighted such efforts by the State Department in foreign countries:

As part of its expanded energy mandate, the State Department hosted conferences on fracking from Thailand to Botswana. It sent US experts to work alongside foreign officials as they developed shale gas programs. And it arranged for dozens of foreign delegations to visit the United States to attend workshops and meet with industry consultants—as well as with environmental groups, in some cases.

Steve Elmendorf is another supporter of Clinton’s campaign. He worked for former House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt and Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign as well.

Currently, Elmendorf works for Bryan Cave Strategies, who have lobbied for Shell Oil many times. In 2007, Barack Obama criticized the Clinton campaign for relying on Elmendorf to push for a gas tax holiday. He called their efforts a “shell game, literally.”

Theresa Maria Fariello, vice president of government relations at ExxonMobil, is another bundler and also no stranger to the Democratic Party. From 1999 to 2001, she worked as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of International Affairs at the Department of Energy under then-President Bill Clinton’s administration.

While working for ExxonMobil, she lobbied Democratic officials to obtain “political intelligence” and is cited as the “chief-in-house Democrat” of the firm. The Hill, in 2011, named her as one of the top lobbyists in Washington D.C. where she is “fully engaged in the battles over regulations, oil subsidies and deepwater drilling.”

In general, some fossil fuel lobbyists are working for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, which will surely bring into question her stance on environmental issues like climate change as the primaries approach.

Hillary Clinton Pledges to Defend Israeli Apartheid & Fight BDS Movement in Letter to Mega-Donor

Hillary Clinton - June Campaign Photo

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton sent a letter to media mogul Haim Saban, a mega-donor, assuring him that she would make countering the global Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel a priority. She invoked a recent terrorist attack against Jews in Paris to condemn BDS and specifically sought Saban’s advice on how to fight back.

“I am writing to express my alarm over the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, or ‘BDS,’ a global effort to isolate the State of Israel by ending commercial and academic exchanges,” Clinton wrote [PDF]. “I am seeking your advice on how we can work together—across party lines and with a diverse array of voices—to reverse this trend with information and advocacy, and fight back against further attempts to isolate and delegitimize Israel.”

Clinton expressed serious concern over comparisons between Israel and South African apartheid.

“Israel is a vibrant democracy in a region dominated by autocracy, and it faces existential threats to its survival,” Clinton asserted. “Particularly at a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise across the world—especially in Europe—we need to repudiate forceful efforts to malign and undermine Israel and the Jewish people. After all, it was only six months ago that four Jews were targeted and killed in a Kosher supermarket in Paris as they did their Sabbath shopping.”

The invoking of a terrorist attack against Jews in Paris is a nasty attempt to cast the growing nonviolent BDS movement as anti-Semitic. In fact, to read Clinton’s letter in its entirety, one has to believe Israel is engaged in no acts of occupation or oppression against the Palestinians and a movement is mobilizing out of hatred or baseless assumptions about Israel.

In a column for the Los Angeles Times published in May 2014, Saree Makdisi, a UCLA professor and author of Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation, explained that apartheid is not merely used to inflame tensions. It very specifically has legal meaning, as outlined by the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. (Note: The UN General Assembly adopted the convention in 1973 and most UN member states except for Israel and the United States have ratified the convention.)

From Makdisi’s column:

According to Article II of that convention, the term applies to acts “committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.” Denying those others the right to life and liberty, subjecting them to arbitrary arrest, expropriating their property, depriving them of the right to leave and return to their country or the right to freedom of movement and of residence, creating separate reserves and ghettos for the members of different racial groups, preventing mixed marriages — these are all examples of the crime of apartheid specifically mentioned in the convention.

Israel engages in all of these actions against Palestinians. In fact, as Gil Maguire has shown, Israel “created an apartheid system and became an apartheid state at the end of the 1967 war.”

One of Clinton’s arguments in her letter is that BDS seeks to “punish Israel and dictate how the Israelis and Palestinians should resolve the core issues of their conflict.” She indicates she supports a two-state solution and that can only be achieved through “direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians—it cannot be imposed from the outside or by unilateral actions.”

If anything, it is Israel which seeks to unilaterally impose a resolution and that resolution is protect and even expand apartheid.

Former President Bill Clinton shared in 2011 the reason why the “peace process” failed. According to Foreign Policy, Clinton claimed it was because of the reluctance of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s administration to “accept the terms of the Camp David deal” and a “demographic shift in Israel” that made the Israeli public “less amenable to peace.” (more…)

Team Clinton Worried Sanders Will Make Hillary ‘Look Like A Corporatist’

With the official entry of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont into the 2016 presidential race comes an atypical challenger for Hillary Clinton. Unlike traditional presidential aspirants, Sanders opened his campaign by sharpening his rhetoric rather than trying to dull it down. While this may mean Clinton will not have to worry about being outflanked by Sanders for the so-called (and largely illusory) “center,” it certainly means that Clinton’s alignment with Wall Street and Corporate America is going to prove problematic in the Democratic primary given her record.

This is something, reportedly, that Team Clinton is well aware of. It would not be at all surprising that Hillary Clinton and her supporters fear a contest of ideas – the neoliberal ideology she and her husband are closely associated with is very unpopular both with the general public and most members of the Democratic Party in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

Hillary Clinton knows this all too well and has been trying to distance herself from her own recent past including her husband’s presidency. Unfortunately for her, the shift looks too opportunistic and does little to neutralize the clear contrasts a Senator Sanders candidacy draws.

Insiders familiar with the Clinton campaign’s thinking described it as “frightened” of Sanders — not that he would win the nomination, but that he could damage her with the activist base by challenging her on core progressive positions in debates and make her look like a centrist or corporatist. The source described the campaign as “pleased,” at least, that O’Malley and Sanders will split the anti-Clinton vote. A Clinton spokesman declined to comment.

At his kickoff rally in Burlington, Vermont, on Tuesday, where thousands turned out to support him, Sanders vowed to “break up the largest financial institutions in the country” and provided the kinds of specifics Clinton has yet to color in. Sanders called for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. (Clinton has said she supports raising the minimum wage but has yet to say by how much.) Sanders also supports a single-payer health insurance system, expanding Social Security benefits, free tuition at public universities and universal pre-kindergarten.

Hillary Clinton is not only not illuminating her 2016 campaign platform, she is avoiding the press as best she can. Part of that is due to a few ongoing scandals concerning deleted emails and the corruption at the Clinton Foundation, but another aspect is surely due to worries over exactly what her positions should be. Crafting a poll-driven message is difficult in a country with such volatile politics, especially given that Clinton is going to be raising money from the very millionaires and billionaires her party’s base wants taxed and regulated.

Those donors, of course, will want something in return should Clinton become president. So maybe the real issue is not whether Sanders will make Hillary Clinton look like a corporatist, but whether she will govern like one if elected.

Stephanopoulos Will Not Moderate GOP Debate After Clinton Donations Revealed

ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos has agreed to not moderate an ABC News-sponsored Republican primary debate after it was revealed that he had given $75,000 to the Clinton Foundation. Stephanopoulos acknowledged the donation was inappropriate saying “In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have, even though I did it for the best reasons.”

Prior to joining ABC News Stephanopoulos served as communications director under President Bill Clinton and led the communications team on Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign famously recorded in the documentary film The War Room. In the film Stephanopoulos and Democratic strategist James Carville methodically work to manipulate the news media into adopting a pro-Clinton narrative.

Stephanopoulos left the Clinton White House in 1996 after Clinton was successfully re-elected and later wrote a book titled All Too Human: A Political Education about the Clinton experience which became a best-seller and set up his journalism career. He then joined ABC News first as an analyst then a correspondent and eventually an anchor. Stephanopolous maintained his strong relationship with the Clintons, though up until now it was not known that there was a financial aspect to that relationship.

The Stephanopoulos revelations are just the latest controversy for the Clinton Foundation which continues to face scrutiny for its shady fundraising practices conducted while Hillary Clinton served as the secretary of state. Unease with the fundraising practices have been amplified by a corresponding scandal regarding Hillary Clinton refusing to comply with federal record keeping rules when serving at the State Department.

What additional deal-making between the Clinton Foundation and foreign/corporate interests was facilitated by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and subordinates will be a lot harder to know now that those emails have been destroyed.