America’s oil and gas industry is making a serious investment in Gov. Rick Scott’s U.S. Senate campaign.
Scott’s midyear campaign report shows at least $880,000 in contributions from oil, gas and energy executives and employees to his campaign and from the industry to a pro-Scott super PAC. The industry is generally aligned with Republican candidates.
Scott’s campaign or pro-Scott PACs report donations from Murray Energy PAC, Chevron Employees PAC, Occidental Petroleum PAC, Marathon Petroleum Employees PAC, Valero PAC, Chemstream, Consumer Energy Solutions and Complete Drilling Solutions. Joe Craft, an executive of Alliance Coal, gave Scott $5,400.
The New Republican PAC received $250,000 from Karen Buchwald Wright, chief executive of Ariel Corp., a leading maker of natural gas compressors, and $50,000 from Kelcy Warren, CEO and chairman of Energy Transfer Partners, a Texas company with a big stake in a 5,300-mile natural gas transmission line running from South Texas to South Florida.
The PAC got a $100,000 check from Houston businessman Joe Gutierrez, the founder and CEO of Novi Ventures, and $10,000 from Adam Beren, president of Berexco, an oil and gas exploration firm in Kansas.
Scott, a wealthy former hospital executive, has also been a major investor in oil and gas firms that in federal filings with the SEC have expressed strong opposition to stricter environmental regulations and climate change policies.
Scott has held at least two out-of-state fundraisers with industry executives, in Dallas in May and in Oklahoma City last week.
Closer to home, Scott received $25,000 from Max Alvarez, president of Sunshine Gasoline Distributors, a Florida-based company, who was a leading Donald Trump fund-raiser in 2016.
“Anyone who contributes to Gov. Scott’s campaign does so in support of his candidacy, which includes priorities such as protecting Florida’s natural treasures by keeping drilling away from our coastline,” Scott spokesman Lauren Schenone said in a statement. “It was Gov. Scott who worked to have Florida taken off the table for oil drilling.”
But Scott’s eight-year lack of interest in any climate change policy has won him support from the energy industry.
Scott’s campaign replied that Nelson’s filing also included thousands of dollars from oil and energy industry employees and industry PACs.
Scott’s campaign has accused rival Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson of inconsistency on offshore drilling, and ran a TV ad with a video clip of Nelson saying he had “no objection” to drilling at a time when Barack Obama was president.
Nelson’s campaign pinned the label “Oil Slick Rick” on Scott with an ad that claimed Scott was bullish on offshore drilling — even after the BP oil spill.
As a first-time candidate for governor in 2010, Politifact reported, Scott supported drilling if done safely, as a form of energy independence, and opposed a moratorium on drilling off the coast.