GOP Senate candidate in Nevada is powered by the fossil fuel industry

767

Nearly all of Adam Laxalt's corporate campaign donations have come from the oil and gas sector.

Republican Nevada Senate candidate Adam Laxalt has spent the past several days blaming spiking gasoline prices on his Democratic opponent, rather than on Russia's invasion of Ukraine. He demanded more unrestricted fossil fuel drilling — but made no mention of his own financial interests in the oil and gas sector.

The average price for a gallon of gas in Nevada on Monday was $4.956, according to AAA — up more than $1 since last month. Like other Republicans across the country, Laxalt seized on this to falsely attack President Joe Biden, Sen. Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-NV), and other Democratic lawmakers for supporting climate and safety regulations for oil and gas companies.

"My opponent @CortezMasto and her party are responsible for the soaring gas prices we're seeing in Nevada," Laxalt tweeted on Thursday.

"Our gas prices are skyrocketing. @CortezMasto and Biden's assault on our domestic energy production is making things worse," he claimed in another tweet.

Laxalt even suggested that the recent price increase — which has been directly tied to embargos on Russian oil — was just part of a nefarious Democratic Party scheme to save the planet.

"Biden is using high gas prices to strong-arm the American people into accepting their far-left climate agenda," he charged. "He, and any of his Democrat [sic] enablers, are quite literally making us pay the price for political gain."

In a Washington Examiner opinion piece on Tuesday, Laxalt called for more drilling on federal lands, more natural gas fracking, and importing more tar sands oil from Canada — incorrectly asserting that these would somehow bring the United States "energy independence."

The column noted that Laxalt "is the former attorney general of Nevada and a candidate for U.S. Senate." But it made no mention of the fact that he spent the past few years working for Cooper & Kirk, PLLC, a prominent conservative law firm that bills itself as "the 'go-to-firm' to sue the federal government."

Cooper & Kirk's clients have included several energy companies, and a named partner's bio page states that "subsidies of Chevron Corporation" are a current client "in a suit in the Court of Federal Claims asserting that the United States must indemnify them for tens of millions of dollars environmental cleanup costs incurred at three different Oil Refineries."

The conservative law firm has paid Laxalt more than $2.2 million for his work there, though it's unclear whether he has done any work for Chevron or other energy companies. Laxalt has scrubbed any mention of the firm from his campaign website.

As the economy has rebounded following the 2020 coronavirus shutdowns, demand for gasoline has as well. According to the Wall Street Journal, Chevron made $15.6 billion in profits in 2021 — its best year since 2014 — and raised its quarterly dividends by 6%.

Laxalt and his wife have directly profited from that. According to his Senate financial disclosure, the couple owns between $16,002 and $65,000 in Chevron Corporation stock. They also own a comparable amount in USCF Midstream Energy Income Fund ETF (an exchange-traded fund that invests in energy stocks) and hold smaller investments in ExxonMobil and American Electric Power Co.

Laxalt has attacked Biden's environmental policies and opposed Biden's Build Back Better plan to invest $555 billion in clean energy and climate change infrastructure. The energy sector has invested in Laxalt's Senate campaign through political action committee contributions. Nearly all of Laxalt's corporate PAC donations have come from fossil fuel companies or adjacent businesses that profit from the energy sector, according to Federal Election Commission records.

A Laxalt campaign spokesperson did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.

As a Senate candidate, Laxalt has also toed the line of the pharmaceutical industry, opposing Democratic efforts to lower prescription drug prices. Cooper & Kirk has represented pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly in the past. Laxalt and his wife hold at least $67,011 in pharmaceutical stocks.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.