Two major environmental groups launched a $1.8 million effort Tuesday to help Democrat Katie McGinty become the next senator from Pennsylvania.
The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) and the Environmental Defense Action Fund are pouring $1.5 million into a television ad campaign. LCV is pumping another $300,000 into a canvassing campaign against incumbent Republican Sen. Pat Toomey.
The first ad of the campaign declares three times that “big oil polluters” have a “friend” in Toomey.
The environmentalist groups adore McGinty, who led the White House Council on Environmental Quality under President Bill Clinton, and endorsed her early in the primary process. The Pennsylvania race is a key focus for environmentalists and progressives, as it is one of the most likely seats to flip to the Democrats. Taking the seat could potentially determine if the Democrats take control of the Senate in 2017.
The two most recent polls have Republican Senator Toomey winning by 1 percent and 9 percent respectively. Toomey strongly supports coal power, which generates $7 billion in economic output in the state. Coal power is vehemently opposed by the environmental groups.
A portion of the money from LCV may have come from Russian government controlled oil interests. The League of Conversation Voters accepted a donation of $18.1 million from the Sea Change Foundation, which got the money from a shell corporation with deep ties to the Russian oil industry. The shell corporation is incorporated in the Bahamas and thus doesn’t have to disclose its donors.
High-level Russian oil and political interests have funneled cash to American environmental groups, which then launch attacks on the U.S. natural gas and oil industry. These attacks often lead to new regulations and restrictions on American oil, which reduces the amount of international competition for Russian produces.
Greens have been the heaviest donors to Democratic candidates in recent years. Green billionaire Thomas Steyer has been the top individual donor of the 2016 elections, pouring $24.5 million so far into the campaign coffers of Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Steyer donated $100 million to green Democrats in the 2014 election. Steyer owes his fortune to the fact that he was one of the world’s largest financiers of coal projects.
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