Fracking-Fund Billionaire Marc Lasry is a Top Clinton Advisor and Fundraiser

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 01 Mar 2016 16:39:00 GMT

Marc Lasry and Hillary Clinton
Marc Lasry and Hillary Clinton
Wall Street hedge-fund billionaire Marc Lasry is one of Hillary Clinton’s biggest financial supporters, and has built deep family and financial ties between himself, Obama, and Clinton. Now he is betting on a Hillary Clinton presidency, while betting the retirements of public-school teachers on a fracking renaissance.

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.”

Bernie Sanders: 'Hillary Clinton Supports Fracking. I Do Not.'

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 26 Feb 2016 15:27:00 GMT

“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:

In Letter to Shareholders, Warren Buffett Mockingly Compares Global Warming to Y2K

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 22 Feb 2016 22:13:00 GMT

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett has dismissed the threat of global warming to Berkshire Hathaway, comparing it to the "dire" Y2K bug fear which caused only minor problems in a letter to investors opposing a shareholder resolution on climate. Athough Buffett admitted it is "highly likely" that climate change "poses a major problem for the planet," he concluded that "when you are thinking only as a shareholder of a major insurer, climate change should not be on your list of worries."

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:

Bernie's Army: 2016's Class of Progressive Candidates

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 12 Feb 2016 23:17:00 GMT

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.

Endorsements Local
Candidate Race Notes
Kim Foxx IL-Cook County State’s Atty DFA
Jennifer Boysko VA-HD-86 DFA
U.S. Senate
Candidate Race Notes
Alan Grayson FL-SEN BA
Rob Hogg IA-SEN CHV
Tom Fiegen IA-SEN EBS
Donna Edwards MD-SEN BA
PG Sittenfield OH-SEN BA
John Fetterman PA-SEN TNR EBS
Russ Feingold WI-SEN BA
U.S. House of Representatives
Candidate Race Notes
Raul Grijalva* AZ-03 EBS
Wendy Reed CA-23 EBS
Lou Vince CA-25 BA
Nanette Barragan CA-44 CHV BA
Bao Nguyen CA-46 EBS BA
Susannah Randolph FL-09 DFA
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
Paul Clements MI-06 BA
Pat Murphy IA-01 BA
Mike Noland IL-08 BA
Keith Ellison* MN-05 EBS
Carol Shea-Porter* NH-01 BA
Alex Law NJ-01 BA EBS
Peter Jacob NJ-07 EBS
Lucy Flores NV-04 EBS DFA TNR
Ruben Kihuen NV-04 BA
DuWayne Gregory NY-02 BA
Bill Perkins NY-13 EBS
Diana Hird NY-18 EBS
Eric Kingson NY-24 EBS BA
Zephyr Teachout NY-19 EBS DFA
Tom Guild OK-05 EBS
Shaughnessy Naughton PA-08 CHV
Angela Marx WA-03 EBS
Parmila Jayapal WA-07 EBS
Mike Manypenny WV-01 EBS

Incumbents are marked with an asterisk.

Clinton Goes to Pennsylvania to Reap Windfall from Pennsylvania Frackers

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 28 Jan 2016 16:34:00 GMT

Clinton enters the Franklin Square Capital Partners headquarters through a back entrance. Credit: Yong Kim
Last night, Hillary Clinton attended a gala fundraiser in Philadelphia at the headquarters of Franklin Square Capital Partners, a major investor in the fossil-fuel industry, particularly domestic fracking. The controversial fracking industry is particularly powerful in Pennsylvania, which will host the Democratic National Convention this July.

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

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.

Timeline: During Paris Talks, D.C. Breathed Life Into U.S. Oil Industry

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 15 Dec 2015 15:37:00 GMT

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.

Democratic Senator Wants to Add Oil-Refiner Subsidy to Crude Export Deal

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 10 Dec 2015 17:25:00 GMT

Tom CarperSenator 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.

Led By White House, Democrats Are Looking to Give Big Oil A Major Win During Climate Talks

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 09 Dec 2015 01:02:00 GMT

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.

Business Coalition Suggests Detailed Language for Paris Talks to Achieve Rapid Decarbonization

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 24 Nov 2015 13:35:00 GMT

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.

Carol Browner E-Mail to LCV Members Announcing Hillary Clinton Endorsement

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 19 Nov 2015 03:37:00 GMT

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.

Dear friend,

As a valued LCV member and fellow environmentalist, I’m eager to deliver an important announcement to you.

We are at a critical juncture for our climate, our environment, and our families’ future. Thirty-five years ago, I devoted my career and my life to fighting the most pressing issue of our time: climate change. Back then, I never could have imagined how far we would come — or the kind of outrageous opposition we would face. Opposition that some would argue has never been more challenging than it is now.

I’ve worked in several administrations to build solid environmental policy and progress — including serving as the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency from 1993 to 2001 under President Clinton and as the director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy under President Obama. I’m immensely proud of what we’ve accomplished over the past 20 years for clean air, clean water, and the health of our communities. And as President Obama continues to prioritize climate change through this year and next, I know we must continue that legacy into the next White House.

Today, as Chair of LCV’s Board, I’m honored to announce that the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund is endorsing Hillary Clinton to be the next President of the United States.

As an environmentalist and a woman, I feel the full gravity of what this election will mean. With your support, we will elect the first woman and a true environmental champion to the White House. Please know that LCV’s Board of Directors carefully considered each candidate, and I’m 100 percent confident telling you that Hillary Clinton is the best candidate for the job.

Here’s why:

  1. From Senator to Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton has made the environment and climate change a top priority. She has consistently championed clean water, clean air, and repealing Big Oil tax handouts to invest in clean energy.
  2. Hillary Clinton laid the groundwork for international climate agreements. With President Obama, she forged international commitments to reduce climate pollutants like carbon and methane.
  3. Hillary Clinton opposes dirty drilling and wants to break Big Oil’s chokehold on our country. She has publicly opposed the dirty and dangerous Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and drilling in the Arctic Ocean.
  4. We will achieve the clean energy future with Hillary Clinton. She has pledged that the U.S. will install more than 500 million solar panels by the end of her first term and generate enough renewable energy to power every home in America by 2027.

Hillary Clinton is a fighter — there’s no doubt about that. And as vicious as the opposition can get, we know that she has the fortitude and tenacity to take them on and come out on top.

The next president will be key in determining where we go from here — do we bow to Big Polluters who are destroying our planet, or do we give everything we’ve got to confront the climate crisis? We know that once Hillary Clinton is in the White House, she will continue her excellent environmental record and build upon President Obama’s work to make the U.S. a global leader in the fight against climate change.

Nonetheless, we can be sure that Hillary Clinton’s opponent next November will be downright dangerous. Not only will he or she lack a solid plan to fight climate change, he or she will also almost certainly deny the indisputable science that proves it’s happening.

We need your help to elect Hillary Clinton, a proven climate leader. Please support her campaign by donating to Hillary for America today through LCV Action Fund’s GiveGreen program. Every contribution goes straight to her campaign and lets her know that the environmental community supports her candidacy and urges her to continue to prioritize an environmental agenda. Please make a generous gift today.

We value your membership and all that you’ve done with LCV. Together, we can secure a strong environmental future.

Thank you,

Carol Browner
Board Chair
League of Conservation Voters

Paid for by the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund and authorized by Hillary for America.

Staying in touch via the League of Conservation Voters’ email list is the best way we have of keeping in regular contact with supporters like you across the country and letting you know about the ways you can take action to protect the environment. Click here to unsubscribe from our supporter list, but if you leave, it will be harder for you to stay involved with LCV and continue the work that you’ve been such a critical part of. LCV wins environmental policy fights and elections because of dedicated activists like you, and we’d love to hear your ideas. Send us any comments, criticisms, or feedback here, or just reply to this email! Thanks for your support.

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