Trump oil CEOs dinner: House Democrat probe

Trump oil CEOs dinner: House Democrat probe

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) speaks during a House Oversight and Accountability Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, September 28, 2023

Almond Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

TThe top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee demanded oil executives disclose whether former President Donald Trump proposed a “quid pro quo” agreement to them at a recent fundraising dinner in Florida, according to letters released Tuesday by Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md ., were published.

The letters emerged from a Washington Post report that Trump invited the executives to dinner at his private Mar-a-Lago club on April 11. “You are all wealthy enough,” Trump is said to have told the assembled guests. “They should raise a billion dollars to put me back in the White House.”

The former president then reportedly told oil executives that if they helped him win another term as president, he would lift the Biden administration’s freeze on liquefied natural gas export permits, auction more oil drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico and the regulations will roll back car emissions.

The reporting raises “significant potential ethical, campaign finance and legal questions,” Raskin wrote.

The issues “range from the effective selling of America’s energy and regulatory policy to commercial interests in return for large campaign contributions,” wrote Raskin, the ranking Democrat on the Oversight Committee.

Raskin asked the executives to provide descriptions of any discussions related to policy proposals or campaign finance that they had over the dinner, as well as any efforts by the CEOs’ respective companies to support Trump’s campaign.

A general view of Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate ahead of his watch party event marking the Super Tuesday primaries in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., March 5, 2024.

Marco Bello | Reuters

The letters were addressed to Chevron CEO Mike Wirth, ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods, Continental Resources CEO Robert Lawler, Chesapeake Energy CEO Domenic Dell’Osso, Occidental Petroleum CEO Vicki Hollub, Venture CEO Mike Sabel Global, Jack Fusco, CEO of Cheniere Energy, and Toby, CEO of EQT, sent Rice and the CEO of major oil lobby American Petroleum Institute Mike Sommers.

A spokesperson for the Trump campaign did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on the congressional request.

Trump would hardly be the first presidential candidate to make campaign promises to specific groups while soliciting donations.

But executives from just one industry eating and drinking at a candidate’s residence, like Mar-a-Lago, raised eyebrows.

Companies are prohibited from donating directly to presidential candidates. They can donate to PACs and their employees can make private donations, but that’s also not possible if the donation is intended as a bribe in exchange for preferential treatment.

Despite Raskin’s demands and his May 27 deadline for answers, as long as Republicans hold the majority in the House, there is little Raskin can do to force any of the oil executives to release information.

Nonetheless, Raskin’s decision to demand answers from Trump’s dinner guests could potentially benefit his fellow Democrats in other ways.

That’s because corporate executives typically go to great lengths to avoid becoming the target of Congressional information requests.

The prospect of being caught up in Raskin’s investigation might be enough to make some private sector executives reconsider whether to accept an invitation to a small Trump fundraising dinner.

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2024-05-14 22:34:13