Brown Took $40K From Energy Co. Execs in Past, Now Challenges Raimondo to Sign Pledge

Thursday, July 19, 2018

 

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In the early 2000s Brown took more than $40k from energy executives

The battle for the Democratic primary is in full swing as Governor Gina Raimondo’s campaign is taking challenger Matt Brown to task for what they claim is a pattern of saying one thing and doing another.

Raimondo’s campaign spokeswoman Emily Samsel tells GoLocal, “2018 Matt Brown touts his pledge to take ‘no corporate PAC or lobbyist campaign contributions, including from the fossil fuel industry’ on the front page of his website and in daily interviews but he just got caught with at least $1,000 in the bank from a prominent oil lobbyist.”

“The real Matt Brown funded his last campaigns with thousands of dollars in oil money, including more than $40K from a single company: Sempra Energy Trading Company," she added. 

More than $40,000 from Executives at One Energy Company

According to Raimondo’s team and campaign finance reports, between 2002 and 2006, Brown received at least $41,300 in campaign donations from employees of Sempra Energy Trading LLC -- a subsidiary of RBS Sempra Commodities LLP that "markets and trades physical and financial energy products, such as crude oil and refined products, natural gas and natural gas liquids, power, coal, emissions, and ethanol." 

At the time, the early 2000s, the company was a traditional fossil fuel-based energy conglomerate. Today, the company is more diversified and includes a large renewables division.

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Matt Brown challenges to reject fossil fuel donations

Brown has not accepted any campaign funds from the company as a candidate for Governor.

The Sempra money was also tied to Brown’s biggest political embarrassment when his campaign for United States Senate was nabbed by the Federal Election Commission for illegally funneling money through a complex series of relationship and state parties.

According to South Coast Today, ”Brown acknowledged that he requested that [Rick] Bready, chairman and CEO of Nortek Inc., and David Messer, president of California-based Sempra Energy Trading donate to the three parties. Bready gave a total of $17,000 to them between Jan. 5 and 13. Messer and his wife, Barbara Duberstein, gave $7,000 to the Massachusetts Democratic Party.”  Duberstein also donated $3,000 to Brown as a candidate and while he served as Secretary of State, according to RI Campaign Finance reports.

Brown Responds and Challenges Raimondo

Brown responds that he took those donations more than a decade ago when there was a very different narrative on global warming.

"If I knew more than a dozen years ago what I know now about the urgency of the climate change crisis, I would not have accepted it. It has become clear that our government needs to stop all new fossil fuel infrastructure and instead invest only in clean, renewable energy -- not in 5 or 10 years, but right now. That is why I have pledged to accept no contributions from the fossil fuel industry,” said Brown.

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Raimondo refuses to take the pledge

"Governor Raimondo has refused to sign that pledge. She is a prime example of what happens when pay-to-play politicians take oil money. Even with everything we now know about the catastrophic harm that climate change will inflict on our children and grandchildren unless we stop burning fossil fuels, she continues to take thousands in campaign contributions from fossil fuel companies and as recently as June was scheduled to attend a fundraiser at the home of fossil fuel executive Andrew Tisch in New York City. She has backed polluting, dangerous fossil fuel projects to come before the state. She took money directly from Invenergy executives then promised to do all she could to get the company's fracked-gas power plant built in the pristine Rhode Island forest. She's not looking out for Rhode Islanders. She looking out for herself and her political career."

The pledge calls on elected officials to reject donations from the interests in the fossil fuel industry, "I pledge to not take contributions from the oil, gas, and coal industry and instead prioritize the health of our families, climate, and democracy over fossil fuel industry profits."

Samsel confirms that Raimondo has refused to sign the pledge. Some of the donations from leading energy companies tied to fossil fuels include; $14,710 from British-owned National Grid — today primarily a transmission company, $2,000 from Invenery’s Michael Polsky, and $9,000 from MA-based Eversource.

 
 

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