Marc Lasry and Hillary Clinton
In 2014, Lasry, founder and chair of Avenue Capital Group, raised $1.3 billion for a fund that bought loans of distressed energy companies, only to watch the debt become even more worthless. $200 million raised for the Avenue Energy Opportunities Fund came from the Pennsylvania Public School Employees’ Retirement System. Lasry has shrugged off the losses, confident the good times will come again for the frackers.
“There’s going to be a huge turnaround on energy,” Lasry told reporters this January. The oil and gas slump has hurt exploration and production companies, but prices “will always come back. The question is, does it take six months or does it take three years?”
Meanwhile, Marc Lasry—a co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks—has become a top contributor and bundler for the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign. When Clinton announced her campaign, Lasry emailed his friends looking to quickly raise $270,000 with ten maxed-out contributions of $2700 each.
“It’s been a long time coming, and now there’s a huge amount of excitement behind her,” Lasry told Bloomberg News. “You will start seeing it in the numbers as people start donating.”
The exact amount of money bundled by Lasry has not been publicly disclosed; the Clinton campaign only discloses which bundlers have raised over $100,000.
“She’s moving a little bit to the left, and I think that’s fine,” Lasry told Bloomberg in May 2015, after hosting one her first campaign fundraisers at his townhouse. “People who are giving money to her understand that. Obviously, some people have some issues. I think the vast majority won’t have issues.”
On February 12 of this year, Clinton came out in favor of new domestic natural-gas fracking and pipeline infrastructure.
Marc Lasry has deep financial and familial ties to the Clintons and Obamas.
Lasry’s daughter Samantha was a Congressional intern for Rahm Emanuel in 2005, the future chief of staff for Barack Obama. Meanwhile, Lasry donated to Rahm’s campaign.
In 2006, Marc Lasry hired Chelsea Clinton to work at his hedge fund, Avenue Capital Group, while Hillary Clinton was Senator of New York. Meanwhile, Lasry contributed to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
Marc Lasry was a top contributor and bundler for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. Meanwhile, Alexander Lasry, his son, was a special assistant to Valerie Jarrett in the Obama White House from 2010 to 2012.
In 2011, Marc Lasry and Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein invested in Eaglevale Partners, the hedge fund set up by Marc Mezvinsky, Chelsea Clinton’s husband. Lasry invested $1 million. The fund “underperformed.”
Oddly enough, Lasry was also one of Donald Trump’s top investors: he managed the bankruptcy buyout of Trump’s casinos in 2010. He then served as the chairman of Trump Entertainment Resorts, Inc. from 2011 to 2013, with a 22 percent stake and managerial control of the Trump Plaza, Trump Marina and Trump Taj Mahal casinos.
In the same interview this January where Lasry bet that the oil and gas industry would rise again, he expressed similar confidence about his chosen candidate.
“Hillary is going to be the next president of the United States.”
“Hillary Clinton supports fracking. I do not.”
These words appeared in a recent fundraising email from Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, which fiercely attacked fracking and Hillary Clinton’s support from and for the natural gas industry.In blunt language, Sanders contrasted his call for a national moratorium on fracking against Clinton’s fundraising from natural gas investors:
Just days before the Iowa caucus, Hillary Clinton left the campaign trail for a high-dollar fundraiser at a hedge fund. That same hedge fund is a major investor in fracking, an incredibly destructive practice of extracting natural gas by pumping hundreds of secret chemicals into the ground.
Hillary Clinton supports fracking. I do not.
And just as I believe you can’t take on Wall Street while taking their money, I don’t believe you can take on climate change effectively while taking money from those who would profit off the destruction of the planet.
Sanders’ email comes on the heels of the Clinton campaign’s February 12th release of a policy promoting new natural-gas extraction and infrastructure. Clinton’s promotion of “safe and responsible natural gas production” (the phrase “safe and responsible” was used five times) was praised by LiUNA, a trade union that had vigorously supported the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.
“Domestically produced natural gas can play an important role in the transition to a clean energy economy,” Clinton’s policy position states, making no mention of the candidate’s February 4th pledge, caught on camera, to ban the extraction of fossil fuels, including natural gas, from public lands.
The conflict between Sanders and Clinton on natural gas is set to become a point of major political contention, as voters go to the polls next month in states overrun by fracking, including Oklahoma and Texas on March 1, Kansas and Nebraska on March 6, and Ohio on March 15. These states are reeling from the boom and bust of the fracking industry, left with earthquakes, degraded water supplies, and thousands of non-union workers exploited and poisoned by the private fracking companies Clinton’s donors have financed. Fights over natural-gas pipelines and facilities have mobilized activists in dozens of other states.
On a national scale, a growing body of scientific evidence is building that the climate benefits of switching from coal to natural gas were a total mirage, with the catastrophic Porter Ranch methane blowout the most visible and extreme example of a nationwide surge in methane leakage as a result of the domestic fracking boom promoted by the Bush and Obama administrations. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide on a twenty-year timespan.
Read Sanders’ full email:
At the upcoming Berkshire Hathaway shareholders' meeting, the Nebraska Peace Foundation and Bold Nebraska are presenting a proposal calling for a report from Berkshire Hathaway's insurance division (which includes Geico) on the risks posed by climate change. The board, following Buffett's wishes, is opposing the proposed report.
Buffett's conglomerate is increasingly invested in the fossil-fuel industry, from his anti-community-solar NV Energy utility in Nevada to his railroad company BNSF, which profits heavily from oil-train and coal-train traffic.
Download the shareholder resolution and Buffett's opposition here.
The text of Buffett's letter is below:
The presidential campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is is calling for a “political revolution” to take control of our political system from moneyed interests. His campaign has been criticized repeatedly for offering an ambitious democratic-socialist agenda that would be blocked by a Republican-dominated Congress. Clinton’s less ambitious but still liberal plans will similarly face a stone wall of GOP opposition. As they might say, “Oh yeah? You and what army?”
Thus, the policy success of the Democratic candidates relies in large part on whether they are buoyed by wins down the ticket. The Clinton campaign and its supporters argue such down-ballot successes are a political impossibility.
However, as David Dayen noted in a recent article in The New Republic, a wave of progressive candidates – which he dubbed “Bernie’s Army” – is running for Congress. Below is a list of candidates who may deserve that label – candidates endorsed for progressive platforms, who have endorsed the Sanders presidential campaign.
- The New Republic: Bernie’s Army is Running for Congress (TNR)
- Endorsers of Bernie Sanders for President (EBS)
- Democracy for America (DFA)
- Climate Hawks Vote (CHV)
- Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC)
- BlueAmerica (BA)
|Kim Foxx||IL-Cook County State’s Atty||DFA|
|John Fetterman||PA-SEN||TNR EBS|
|Nanette Barragan||CA-44||CHV BA|
|Bao Nguyen||CA-46||EBS BA|
|Tim Canova||FL-23||EBS TNR running against DWS|
|Joseline Peña-Melnyk||MD-04||DFA BA|
|Jamie Raskin||MD-08||DFA CHV BA running against Chris Matthews’ wife|
|Alex Law||NJ-01||BA EBS|
|Lucy Flores||NV-04||EBS DFA TNR|
|Eric Kingson||NY-24||EBS BA|
|Zephyr Teachout||NY-19||EBS DFA|
Incumbents are marked with an asterisk.
Clinton has avoided taking any clear stand on fracking. While she has embraced the Clean Power Plan, which assumes a strong increase in natural-gas power plants, she also supports a much deeper investment in solar electricity than the baseline plan. The pro-Clinton Super PAC Correct the Record, run by David Brock, touts Clinton’s aggressive pro-fracking record.
Numerous grassroots groups have risen to oppose the toxic fracking of Pennsylvania and its labor abuses, including Marcellus Protest, No Fracking Way, Pennsylvanians Against Fracking, Keep Tap Water Safe, Stop Fracking Now, and Stop the Frack Attack.
As reported by the Intercept’s Lee Fang, “One of Franklin Square Capital’s investment funds, the FS Energy & Power Fund” the Intercept’s Lee Fang reports, “is heavily invested in fossil fuel companies, including offshore oil drilling and fracking.” The company cautions that “changes to laws and increased regulation or restrictions on the use of hydraulic fracturing may adversely impact” the fund’s performance.
Through its fund, Franklin Square invests in private fracking and oil drilling companies across the nation, as well as Canada and the Gulf of Mexico. This includes heavy investment in Pennsylvania frackers.
Franklin Square companies in the Pennsylvania fracking industry
- Ameriforge Group
- Atlas Resource Partners
- Cactus Wellhead
- Chief Oil & Gas
- Cimarron Energy
- Eclipse Resources
- EV Energy Partners
- Exterran Partners
- Gardner Denver
- Global Partners
- Gruden Acquisition
- Kenan Advantage Group
- Moxie Liberty
- Murray Energy Corp
- Vantage Energy
- Warren Resources
- Zachry Holdings
Bold indicates a company that runs fracking wells in Pennsylvania (Eclipse Resources is a Pennsylvania-based company with fracking operations in Ohio). The other companies listed are industry service companies with business in Pennsylvania, including pipelines, trucking, chemicals, and power plants. Murray Energy runs coal mining operations in Pennsylvania.
Tickets to the event ranged from $1,000 to $27,000. Contributors at the $2,700 level got a photo taken with Clinton, and the $27,000 contributors were afforded the opportunity to meet and hear Jon Bon Jovi perform an acoustic set.
Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), December 3:
Heinrich previously voted against a pro-exports bill that cleared the Energy and Natural Resources Committee on a party-line vote, but signaled that he could support exports if they’re coupled with strong renewable-energy incentives. “We are looking for things that bring people to the table from both sides,” he said. “I think there is a real opportunity here. I hope we realize it.”
“It’s effectively carbon-neutral” to allow crude exports, Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) told reporters last week, “because you’re going to burn the oil someplace under the current regime.”
Tim Kaine (D-Va.), December 3:
“There is a wide range of opinion [in the Democratic caucus], some pro, some con,” Sen. Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat, told National Journal. “The majority opinion is probably [that] we’d be willing to consider it if we got some very strong energy-efficiency and greenhouse-gas-reducing provisions along with it.”
Heidi Heitkamp, December 9:
“The good news is there is no one saying ‘absolutely no,’ and there is a range of belief systems in terms of what you would need in order to accomplish the lifting of the ban,” Heitkamp said Tuesday. “We believe we’re at a spot where we could actually get a deal.”’White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, December 9:
In a press conference on Tuesday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest reiterated the administration’s position, but wouldn’t threaten a veto of the omnibus or tax extenders package if a provision lifting the decades-old ban on crude oil was tucked inside.
Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.) has proposed a tax credit for oil refiners to be added to legislation that would lift the decades-long ban on crude oil exports. This double-subsidy deal for the oil industry during international climate negotiations belies Carper’s claimed concerns about climate change but would benefit Delaware refineries.
Politico’s Elana Schor reports that Carper wants “a narrowly crafted tax credit that would particularly help the East Coast refiners with the most to lose if producers can sell their product overseas. The credit, which large, integrated oil companies could not collect, would also spread some love among refiners in California and the Gulf Coast, creating a large band of members of Congress who might be willing to back it. Sources tells Elana that oil patch Senators are likely to push back hard on Carper’s proposal.”
Download the draft Carper oil-refiner tax-credit language, or see below.
In a paywalled article at Politico Pro, reporter Elana Schor describes how the Democratic effort to cut a deal to lift the decades-long crude oil export ban is being quietly directed by the White House. The administration has quietly walked back its October veto threat against this top oil-industry priority, despite the global attention on climate change during the Paris climate talks. Remarkably, even climate champion Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) indicated her willingness to cut a deal that would rejuvenate the tar-sands and Bakken-shale industry, telling Schor, “I’ve heard environmentalists say this is a great opportunity; others say it’s not.”
Schor’s story did not make mention of which environmental groups are on which side. The Sierra Club has been leading the fight to ensure the ban stands, whereas the National Wildlife Federation has been pushing for a deal in order to achieve some of its land-conservation goals.
The carbon pollution caused by lifting the ban on crude oil exports, depending on future oil prices, could be equivalent to the pollution from 42 new coal plants.
Lifting the crude oil export ban would be a dramatic blow to American prestige within the international climate negotiations, where the United States, led by President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, have been claiming the moral high ground. Youth activists from historically black universities who are monitoring the talks recently sent a video plea to President Obama and the U.S. Senate, saying “the ban must stand.”
White House keeps GOP hopes for oil exports alive
The White House on Tuesday declined to rule out accepting a Congressional measure to allow U.S. oil exports for the first time in four decades, a potential signal to senior Democrats who are considering striking a deal with the GOP to overturn the ban in exchange for other party priorities.
The White House “continues to oppose” a legislative provision rolling back the decades-old ban on exporting U.S. crude, spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters, “but I’m just not going to get into a detailed list of things we are going to veto or not veto.”
Asked about ending the ban as part of a potential budget package that would otherwise be favorable to the White House, a senior Obama administration official said only that legislation on the issue is “not needed at this time”- repeating the language and tone used previously that’s raised alarms among some green groups.
Climate Hawks Vote political director Brad Johnson urged President Barack Obama to close the door to oil exports to reinforce the administration’s goal of reaching a strong global emissions pact at the climate change conference in Paris this week.
“All the efforts of his climate negotiators in Paris could be blown away by this one boneheaded appeasement of Big Oil,” Johnson said.
The We Mean Business coalition of private-sector climate activists has released detailed recommended language for the upcoming climate negotiations in Paris. The report was prepared by BSR and DLA Piper for the coalition, which includes B-Team, Ceres, Carbon Disclosure Project, the Climate Group, the Prince of Wales Corporate Leader Group, and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. Funding was provided by the ClimateWorks, IKEA, and Thomson Reuters Foundations.
Corporate members on the board of We Mean Business include Starbucks, Nike, IKEA, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Kingfisher, Unilever, HP, Tata, CLP Power, and NEUW Ventures.
The following is the text of the e-mail sent by the League of Conservation Voters on November 9, 2015, to members announcing the organization’s unprecedented early endorsement of Hillary Clinton.