As the media repeats the news that Beto O’Rourke raised more money than any other Democratic presidential candidate on his first day, we may want to hold our applause until we see where these donations came from. Beto likes to play the progressive, but he holds records for donations from the fossil fuel industry.
O’Rourke promised environmentalists that he wouldn’t take much money from Big Oil by signing the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge, then he broke that promise, hugely. He gets more money from the oil and gas industry than anyone else in congress, except Ted Cruz, according to OpenSecrets. This is publicly available information, and it checks out.
Beto sounds progressive when he discusses climate change, but he is on the take from the industries that are largely responsible for our current climate crises.
Large Donations from Wealthy Donors
In the Democratic party, candidates are clamoring for small individual contributions, which are a great way to tout your grassroots support. Bernie Sanders famously has an average donation of $27 dollars, a mark of many small donations by people who likely don’t have much money or clout.
Beto was quite different, having 75% of his donations over $200 in his recent Senate race. Sludge took a deep dive into O’Rourke’s donations and what they found looks more like astroturf than grassroots. They report:
Based on detailed campaign finance data provided to me by the Center for Responsive Politics, the organization that operates the OpenSecrets website, I’ve found that of the $430,000 that O’Rourke’s Senate campaign received from individuals who work in the oil and gas industry, 75 percent has come in the form of “large” donations over $200. The donors include more than two dozen oil and gas executives. More than 30 donations were the maximum allowed amount of $2,700. But the Texas representative also took in tons of small donations of $200 and under.
In the reporting, they found there were 24 oil executives who made donations to Beto’s campaign, totaling $35,125. According to this, Beto broke his No Fossil Fuel Money pledge at least 25 times. Progressives may not like the way this looks.
In the age of personality-over-policy, momentum can take a candidate very far, very fast. Voters need to do more than simply listen to a candidate’s words and pledges. We all need to be vigilant in our search for the truth when it comes to selecting our leaders. It is a contest with an incredible prize. People will lie, cheat and steal to get there, as our current president has proven.