Senate Democrats probe Trump’s campaign cash request to oil industry

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Senate Democrats say they will investigate former President Trump’s request that the oil industry raise $1 billion in campaign cash for him.

On Thursday, Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), chairs of the Finance and Budget committees respectively, announced that they would look into the ask that Trump made at a campaign event in Mar-a-Lago last month. 

They asked eight energy companies and an industry lobbying group for any materials that were given to event attendees, any policy proposals discussed at the event and donations made by the companies or their political action committees. 

The Washington Post, which first reported on the request, said that Trump told the companies it would be a  “deal” for oil executives because of the tax cuts and relaxed regulations he would implement. 

A source who spoke with The Hill said that this comment was not framed as a quid pro quo.

However, Whitehouse and Wyden in their letter accused the oil industry of “conferring on how to trade campaign cash for policy changes.”

A House Democrat recently announced a similar probe, but since Democrats are the minority party in the House but the majority in the Senate, Wyden and Whitehouse will have more power to conduct the investigation.

The American Petroleum Institute (API), the oil and gas lobbying group the Democrats wrote to, described the Democrats’ effort as an “election-year stunt to distract from America’s need for more energy.”

“API meets with candidates and policymakers to discuss the need for sound energy policies, and this meeting was no different,” spokesperson Andrea Woods said in a written statement. 

“Our policy priorities are clear – on our website; in speeches, statements and public events; in regulatory filings and court dockets – and we will continue to advocate for policies that strengthen America’s energy advantage.”

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