Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush and Rick Perry among candidates poised to see biggest benefits from handful of wealthy individuals and corporations
Eight GOP hopefuls have drawn at least $62m this year from sources linked to polluting industries. Photograph: Getty Images and Rex Features
Ed Pilkington in New York, Wednesday 12 August 2015 07.30 EDT
Republican presidential candidates have banked millions of dollars in donations from a small number of mega-rich individuals and corporations with close ties to the fossil fuel industries that stand to lose the most from the fight against climate change.
Eight out of the 17 GOP figures currently jostling for their party’s presidential nomination have between them attracted a bonanza of at least $62m so far this year from sources either directly involved in polluting industries or with close financial ties to them. Three Republican contenders stand out as recipients of this fossil fuel largesse: the Republican climate change denier-in-chief, Ted Cruz; the party establishment favorite Jeb Bush; and the former governor of Texas, Rick Perry.
The funds have come from just 17 billionaires or businesses that have pumped enormous sums – in one case $15m for a single candidate – into the support groups or Super Pacs that work alongside the official campaigns yet are free to attract unlimited contributions. The $62m forms a substantial chunk of almost $400m that has been given to presidential contenders from both main parties in 2015, raising questions about the leverage that fossil fuel interests might seek to exert over the next occupant of the White House at a critical time for the battle against climate change.
The super-wealthy donors all have connections with oil and gas operations, fracking companies, drilling firms and other activities associated with emissions of industrial carbon dioxide, the main global warming gas. Their money has gone entirely to Republican candidates, signalling a strong preference among fossil fuel billionaires for the GOP.
According to a study of donations based on filings to the Federal Election Commission carried out by Greenpeace and the Center for Media and Democracy in collaboration with the Guardian, by far the greatest beneficiary of what might be labelled fossil fuel donations has been Ted Cruz. The sitting US senator from Texas, who is among the most prominent and blatant climate change deniers in the US, has been showered with a staggering $36.5m from just four wealthy sources with links to fossil fuels interests.
Those donors include members of the Wilks family from Texas who have collectively given $15m to Cruz-supporting Super Pacs. The Wilks fortune was amassed primarily from making equipment used in fracking, a controversial technique for extracting natural gas, via a company called Frac Tech, which the family sold in 2011.