Nevada Senate candidate Adam Laxalt defends Big Oil companies amid soaring gas prices

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The Republican candidate has gotten much of his corporate PAC funding from the fossil fuel industry.

Nevada Republican Senate candidate Adam Laxalt has spent the past few weeks falsely arguing that the fossil fuel sector and the Russian invasion of Ukraine are blameless for rising gasoline prices — without mentioning that much of his campaign funds have come from oil and gas interests.

According to Federal Election Commission filings, nearly all of Laxalt's corporate PAC contributions have come from fossil fuel companies or businesses that make money from the energy sector.

Gas prices have been rising since former President Donald Trump was in office, as demand increased after the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. Following Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to invade Ukraine and President Joe Biden's subsequent ban on Russian oil imports, reduced supplies have caused a large price spike. According to AAA, average gasoline prices stand at $4.919 per gallon nationally and $5.525 in Nevada, up about $1.87 from a year ago.

As consumers pay more, oil and gas companies have reaped massive profits. But Laxalt has tried to pin the blame for rising gas prices on Biden and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), who he is running to unseat in November.

"When you see President Biden get up there and Senator Masto and they start talking about the Putin price hike. More recently, Senator Masto and the Democrats are blaming greedy oil executives for our gas prices," Laxalt said at a May 27 campaign event. "Recently, they've been blaming meat conglomerates for the price of meat and everything that goes up. How many, much more finger-pointing are they going to do?"

"It means your gas is $5.60 a gallon in Las Vegas. That's not Putin's fault, is it? It's not greedy oil executives like Catherine Cortez Masto is now pretending like it's Big Oil's fault," Laxalt said a day later at another campaign event.

"If someone complains to you about gas, you make sure they say — you make sure you confront them: 'This is not Putin's price hike. This is not greedy oil executives. This is the Democrats. They gave you $5.60 gas that we have today,'" he said at still another appearance that day.

On Friday, Laxalt told far-right radio host Wayne Allyn Root, "This whole Putin price hike and greedy oil executives. And if it's not them, then it's the meatpacking industry. I mean, all they do is point fingers, rather than point fingers right at themselves."

A former Nevada attorney general, unsuccessful gubernatorial nominee, and Nevada co-chair of Trump's failed 2020 re-election campaign, Laxalt is favored to win next Tuesday's GOP Senate primary.

But his defense of the oil and gas industry is not impartial.

Laxalt's mandatory financial disclosure form filed in May indicates that he and his spouse own between $16,002 and $65,000 worth of stock in Chevron and tens of thousands more in other fossil fuel investments.

Since losing his 2018 gubernatorial race, Laxalt has been paid more than $3.7 million for working at Cooper & Kirk, a prominent conservative law firm that claims to be "the 'go-to-firm' to sue the federal government."

While he has not disclosed his own client list and his campaign did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story, the company claims to have represented several energy companies. A Cooper & Kirk partner's biography notes the law firm's current clients include Shell Oil Company, Atlantic Richfield, Union Oil Company, Texaco, and subsidiaries of Chevron — each of whom is challenging environmental cleanup costs.

Last year, Chevron reportedly made $15.6 billion in profits — the company's best year since 2014, according to the Wall Street Journal. The gasoline behemoth reported a $6.3 billion profit in the first quarter of 2022 alone. Other prominent oil companies have also posted massive profits so far this year.

But rather than acknowledge these factors, Laxalt has repeatedly used gas prices to demonize Biden, Cortez Masto, and other Democratic lawmakers for supporting efforts to curb climate change and safety regulations for oil and gas production.

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

This is not the first time Laxalt has defended the fossil fuel industry from which he profits. As state attorney general, he reportedly worked to shield ExxonMobil from a multi-state fraud investigation.

Meanwhile, Cortez Masto has both backed legislation to reduce gas costs in the short term and to promote climate-friendly policies in the long term.

In April, she and Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) introduced the Fair and Transparent Gas Prices Act, a bill to give the Federal Trade Commission more power to crack down on oil and gas company price gouging.

On her campaign issue page, she also notes her work as "a champion for renewable energy, leading the fight for a solar tax credit that helps tackle climate change and create Nevada jobs."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.