Ohio Republican Senate nominee J.D. Vance personally profits from oil and gas companies and has broken his promise not to take their campaign donations.
Ohio Republican Senate nominee J.D. Vance often complains about high gas prices, falsely blaming them on Democratic energy policies. But through his personal investments and campaign contributions, he has received tens of thousands of dollars from the fossil fuel industry in the past year.
Vance, a wealthy venture capitalist and author, is running against Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan in November's midterm election for the seat of retiring Republican Sen. Rob Portman. Vance has repeatedly blamed Ryan and President Joe Biden for rising energy costs.
"We wouldn't be worried about Saudi Arabia cutting oil production if we just allowed American workers to drill for oil. Sad that the Tim Ryan energy plan has us begging for oil from the Saudis," Vance tweeted on Monday following news that a group of oil-exporting countries would slow production.
"Joe Biden and Tim Ryan are crushing the American oil industry at a time of skyrocketing energy prices and a worldwide energy crisis," he wrote in September.
"Just filled up in Girard, OH, where 10 gallons of gas will set you back nearly $50. If @TimRyan wanted to put 'workers first' (his campaign slogan), he would have stood up to Joe Biden's awful energy policies the last two years," he charged in May.
Observers say that recent rises in gasoline prices have been a global issue, driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and now production cuts reducing supply — not by Biden or Democratic policies.
Consumers have been forced to pay more than ever to fill their cars' tanks, and much of that money has gone to fossil fuel company shareholders like Vance.
On April 1, Vance filed an amended financial disclosure statement for last year, noting that he owned between $100,001 and $250,000 in K-1 Free Crude Oil Strategy ETF, a mutual fund invested in crude oil futures, bringing him an annual income of at least $1,001.
Candidates and members of Congress are not required to list exact totals of their holdings.
By August, when he filed this year's disclosure statement, he had made between $50,001 and $100,000, apparently by reducing his holdings to somewhere between $50,001 and $100,000 worth of shares in the fund.
In addition, he reported making $945,000 from Narya Capital Management, the venture capital firm he co-founded, in the time between those two filings. According to the firm's site, he is currently "on a partial leave of absence from Narya to run for a US Senate seat for the State of Ohio."
A spokesperson for the Vance campaign called an investigation of Vance's holdings in fossil fuels a "stupid narrative" and told the American Independent Foundation:
Like 150 million other Americans, JD owns and trades stock in the open market. When he’s elected to the Senate, he will support a ban on members of Congress trading stock. JD opposes Joe Biden‘s disastrous energy policies that have driven prices up for the American people: in the Senate, he will fight for common sense solutions that will drive prices down.
In January, Vance appeared on Steve Bannon's "War Room" podcast and railed against corporate influence on government. Asked if he would accept corporate political action committee donations, Vance promised: "Not yet. We haven't taken any yet. Sorry. I'm not going to take corporate PAC money."
But since that time, he has taken tens of thousands of dollars from fossil fuel industry PACs, including those of ExxonMobil, the American Petroleum Institute, Koch Industries, Western Energy Alliance, Continental Resources, and NextEra Energy.
And as he has profited from and been supported by the oil and gas sector, Vance has simultaneously abandoned his earlier positions to adopt the industry line.
As recently as 2020, Vance acknowledged that the world is facing a climate crisis and pushed for clean renewable energy as the solution. He has since flip-flopped.
In a July interview on the right-wing "Clay Travis & Buck Sexton" radio talk show, Sexton opined that he did not believe there really was any climate crisis. Vance agreed, saying:
No, I don't think there is, either. And even if there was a climate crisis, I don't know how the way to solve it is to buy more Chinese-manufactured electric vehicles. The whole EV thing is a scam, right? So set to the side these questions about, you know, how much carbon drives the climate change situation. Look, I'm with you on this. I do not wake up in the morning thinking, [We've got] a climate crisis we need to destroy the economy to deal with.
Like industry groups, Vance opposed Biden's Inflation Reduction Act — which invests hundreds of billions of dollars in energy and climate change infrastructure — falsely claiming it would "put a lot of Ohioans out of work."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.