Unpacking Chevron's call for a peaceful transition of power

Yes, holding Big Oil accountable still matters.

This week’s edition is written by our digital content strategist Abbey Dufoe. You can catch up with her on Twitter here.


This week, there was an attempted coup

An armed mob stormed the Capitol building, breaking into the Senate chamber, steamrolling through police and security. U.S. representatives took refuge under desks with gas masks under a building lockdown. There have been four deaths reported.

Amid the violence, there were calls for a peaceful transition of power. And while these are important, they mean nothing if you don’t take responsibility for your role in fueling a coup. 

After the insurrectionists had been cleared from Capitol grounds, Chevron tweeted this message:

These companies have been showing us who they are all along. And tweets calling for the peaceful transition of power, looking forward to working with the next administration (which has pledged to support litigation against them, by the way)... well that just ain’t it.

Yet again, these companies knew and they lied — and we’re all paying the price. 

Let’s unpack this, shall we?

As Earther’s managing editor Brian Kahn pointed out, Chevron has made over $1.8 million in political action committee (PAC) contributions to federal candidates in the last four years — including the same candidates whose years of far-right rhetoric and posturing laid the groundwork for the violence we saw unfold live on Twitter and our TVs on Wednesday.

“It's absurd for Chevron to pretend that it's not complicit in upending the peaceful transfer of power. Fossil fuel money has poisoned democracy by stalling climate legislation and making climate denial the official position of the Republican party. But it has also entrenched demagogues like Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, and the corrosive effect of Chevron's investment in them was on full display Wednesday,” he said via email.

Credit: Roo Reynolds on Flickr

The six senators who voted to sustain the objection against Arizona's electoral votes, and others who had planned to but changed their minds come time of the vote includes:

  • Cindy Hyde-Smith: $15,000

  • Ted Cruz: $10,000

  • Josh Hawley: $10,000

  • Steve Daines: $10,000

  • Marsha Blackburn: $10,000

  • Mike Braun: $5,000

  • Roger Marshall: $5,000

  • Kelly Loeffler: $5,000

  • Bill Hagerty: $5,000

No PAC donations were made from Chevron to Tommy Tuberville, John Kennedy, or James Lankford (in the last 4 years). Congrats, I guess? You can see the full list on Open Secrets.

Exxon has been doing the same. They have spent over 2.4 million dollars in PAC money in the same time period to federal candidates, including:

  • Ted Cruz: $10,000

  • Josh Hawley: $10,000

  • Steve Daines: $10,000

  • Marsha Blackburn: $10,000 

  • Roger Marshall: $10,000

  • Kelly Loeffler: $10,000

  • Bill Hagerty: $10,000

  • Tommy Tuberville: $5,000

  • John Kennedy: $2,500

  • James Lankford: $2,500

No PAC donations were made from Exxon to Cindy Hyde-Smith or Mike Braun (in the last 4 years). You can see the full list on Open Secrets.

In many cases, these donations are the limit to what each candidate can accept from any PAC in an election cycle. So in other words — Big Oil is maxing out their monetary influence to federal candidates.

Chevron was also one of several fossil fuel companies (hey, BP and Exxon) to give at least half a million dollars to Trump’s inauguration fund. They have made illegal payments to witnesses in Supreme Court cases, too.

On top of all this, reports show that Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), a “political organization that helps elect Republican attorneys general and can accept unlimited contributions from wealthy individuals and corporations,” helped organize the protest preceding the attempted coup on Wednesday. RAGA has received donations from Koch Industries, Chevron, and Exxon. 

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), one of the two biggest dark money groups funding climate denial and obstruction, according to a recent Senate committee report, also put out a statement on Wednesday urging the “armed thugs” to “cease violence.” 13 Republican AGs are supporting Big Oil’s efforts to escape accountability at the Supreme Court.

But it’s not just their financing of senators who use lies to breed sedition for their own personal political gain. These companies, along with Koch Industries, have funded and built a massive disinformation machine that in many ways was the model for the conspiracy-mongering media that currently powers the far right.   

Let’s be real, you can’t erase 40 years of disinformation and lies with a few tweets. It’s gonna take a lot more than that to undo the damage and a lot more time for any rational person to believe that Big Oil is telling us the truth about anything.

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