Media Are Missing Marco Rubio's Oil Ties In Coverage Of His Fossil Fuel-Friendly Energy Plan

In coverage of GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio's newly released energy plan, which calls for expanding oil production and rolling back environmental safeguards against pollution, media are failing to mention that Rubio has received campaign funding from the oil billionaire Koch brothers and other fossil fuel interests, and is reportedly a leading contender to benefit from hundreds of millions more in support from the Kochs.

Rubio Announces Energy Plan Favoring Oil And Gas Industry

Rubio's Federal Energy Plan Would Roll Back Environmental Protections And Expand Fossil Fuel Development. On October 16, Rubio released his energy plan promising to “take full advantage of our energy potential.” His plan includes:

  • Lifting the ban on crude oil exports and expediting natural gas exports;
  • Approving the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline;
  • Deferring to states when it comes to oil and gas development inside their borders;
  • Stopping the “illegal and destructive” Clean Power Plan, which addresses climate change by establishing the first-ever federal limits on carbon pollution from power plants;
  • Replacing the Obama Administration's offshore drilling plan with one that “increases access and promptly updates our assessments of offshore resources”;
  • Reducing “red tape, permitting delays, and endless reviews” that “interfere” with energy development, including “oil and gas drilling” and “coal power generation”;
  • Opposing a carbon tax. [, accessed 10/21/15]

Rubio Has Received Campaign Contributions From Fossil Fuel Interests, Reportedly Courted Koch Brothers For Additional Funding

Over His Career, Top Contributors To Rubio Include Oil & Gas Industry And Koch Industries. The Center for Responsive Politics found that over Rubio's legislative career, he has received:

  • $697,026 from the energy & natural resources sector, including $368,403 from the oil & gas industry (and $92,870 from oil & gas in the 2016 campaign cycle so far);
  • $362,826 from the Koch-linked Club for Growth, which is easily Rubio's top individual donor over his congressional career;
  • $48,350 from Koch Industries, one of Rubio's top-10 donors over his congressional career [Center for Responsive Politics, accessed 10/21/15; accessed 10/21/15; accessed 10/21/15]

The Hill: Rubio Is One Of Koch Donor Network's “Most Popular Presidential Candidates.The Hill reported that Rubio has received contributions from “more than 12 percent of 190 donors and their families” connected to the Koch brothers' donor network, and noted that total Koch network donations “are likely far higher than these disclosed amounts”:

The most popular presidential candidates among the Koch brothers' conservative donor network are Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, who each received contributions from more than 12 percent of 190 donors and their families in records analyzed by The Hill.


But total Koch network donations are likely far higher than these disclosed amounts. The American public will have to wait until January to see how much money millionaires and billionaires have spent since July 1 on super-PACs. [The Hill, 10/20/15]

NY Daily News Source: Kochs Are “Eyeing” Rubio For Nearly $1 Billion Contribution. In an article titled, “Koch brothers eyeing Marco Rubio for nearly $1B campaign contribution,” the New York Daily News reported:

The big money is on Marco Rubio.

Slowly but surely, the GOP is narrowing down its list of presidential candidates. The big prize -- aside from the presidency itself -- is still the nearly $1 billion contribution the kingmaking Koch brothers, Charles and David, will reportedly throw behind the conservative agenda next year.

According to a political insider who ran into David Koch at a recent event in Manhattan, Florida Sen. Rubio is the front-runner for dough now that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is out of the race.

“It's sad. I think (Walker) just ran out of money,” our source heard David Koch tell friends. “But I think he'll be back for another presidential run in the future.”

Our insider notes the “interesting undertones” when a political financier worth $42 billion points out that a candidate might have done better with more money. We're also told that Koch had nothing but nice things to say about Rubio, with whom he agrees on “most of the substantial issues.” [New York Daily News, 10/7/15]

Rubio Reportedly Said He Would “Love” To Receive Funding From Koch Brothers. In an April conference call hosted by the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity, Rubio reportedly said he has “tremendous admiration for the Koch family” and “would love to earn their support.” This comment was in response to a USA Today interview with Charles Koch, who said Rubio is one of the candidates “we've talked to the most” that could gain their support by making a case for “certain policies.” From the USA Today interview:

[Charles] Koch, his brother David and their team have identified five candidates who have the right message and “a good chance of getting elected,” he told USA TODAY in an exclusive interview at Koch Industries' headquarters. They are Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida. [Washington Times, 4/23/15 ; USA Today, 4/21/15]

Top Rubio Donor Club For Growth Is Part Of Oil Billionaire Koch Brothers' Donor Network. As The Washington Post has noted, the Club for Growth has received funding from the Center to Protect Patient Rights, which has been used by the oil billionaire Koch brothers as an intermediary group to funnel money to various other front groups. The Center for Media and Democracy has further documented that many of the Club for Growth's donors “have ties to the Koch network of right-wing organizations and institutions.” And the Center for Public Integrity has explained that "[o]il is the core of the Koch business empire." [The Washington Post1/6/15; Center for Media and Democracy, 8/31/12; Center for Public Integrity, 4/6/11]

Dark Money Group “Conservative Solutions Project,” Which Opposes EPA Climate Agenda, Has Spent Extensively On Rubio's Campaign. The Associated Press reported that all of the pro-Rubio television ads that have so far aired in the early primary states were paid for by a group called Conservative Solutions Project, which does not disclose its donors. The group has spent at least $8 million on Rubio so far in this election, according to advertising tracker Kantar Media's CMAG. From the Associated Press:

Every pro-Rubio television commercial so far in the early primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina has been paid for not by his campaign or even by a super PAC that identifies its donors, but instead by a nonprofit called Conservative Solutions Project. It's also sending Rubio-boosting mail to voters in those same states. [Associated Press, 10/8/15]

On its website, the Conservative Solutions Project advocates “limiting the regulatory burden,” claiming that “the American economy is under regulatory assault” partially due to “massive new EPA climate change regulations on the energy, auto, and airline industries.” [, accessed 10/21/15]

Mainstream Media Coverage Is Omitting Rubio Energy Industry Ties

To This Point, Much Of Mainstream Coverage Of Rubio's Energy Plan Has Omitted His Energy Industry Ties. [Associated Press, 10/16/15;, 10/16/15The Hill, 10/16/15; SaintPetersBlog, 10/16/15]

The New York Times Referenced Rubio's “Intended Beneficiaries” In The Energy Industry And Influence Of GOP's “Energy Sector” Donors. The New York Times noted that Rubio's plan was “certain to please the energy sector executives who pour hundreds of millions of dollars into Republican political campaigns,” but did not identify any specific energy industry donors that have given to Rubio. From The Times:

If his words left any doubt about the intended beneficiaries of his energy plan, the setting he chose spoke volumes: a company that makes equipment used to drill and refine fossil fuels, BOC Water Hydraulics.


His speech was also certain to please the energy sector executives who pour hundreds of millions of dollars into Republican political campaigns.

Environmental groups scoffed at the proposals, saying Mr. Rubio's plan could have been written by the industry itself. “Senator Rubio's energy policies may impress the Koch brothers,” said Denis Dison, communications director for the NRDC Action Fund. “But American voters are growing tired of his kind of slavish devotion to old, dirty energy sources that threaten our kids' futures.” [The New York Times, 10/16/15]

Industry News Site Quoted LCV Saying Rubio's Plan Would “Protect The Profits Of The Big Polluters That Fund His Campaign.” Argus Media quoted the League of Conservations Voters as saying that Rubio's energy plan would “accelerate climate change just to protect the profits of the big polluters that fund his campaign.” [Argus Media, 10/16/15]