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Trump Oil CEO Dinner: House Democrats Investigate

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) speaks during a House Committee on Oversight and Accountability hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, September 28, 2023.

Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

The top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee asked oil executives to reveal whether former President Donald Trump offered them a “quid pro quo” deal at a recent fundraising dinner in Florida , according to letters released Tuesday by Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland. .

The letters stem from a Washington Post report that Trump invited the leaders for an April 11 dinner at his private club, Mar-a-Lago. “You’re all pretty rich,” Trump reportedly told the assembled guests. “You would have to raise $1 billion to get me back in the White House.”

The former president then reportedly told oil executives that if they helped him win another term as president, he would reverse the Biden administration’s freeze on liquefied natural gas export permits, auction more of oil drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico and would roll back rules on liquefied natural gas export permits. automobile emissions.

The reporting raises “important potential questions of ethics, campaign finance and law,” Raskin wrote.

The problems “stem from the effective selling of U.S. energy and regulatory policy to corporate interests in exchange for large campaign contributions,” wrote Raskin, who is the top Democrat on the Oversight Committee.

Raskin asked the executives to provide descriptions of any discussions related to policy proposals or campaign finance they had at the dinner, as well as efforts made by the CEOs’ respective companies to support Trump’s campaign.

A general view of Republican presidential candidate and former US President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property, ahead of his party event to mark the Super Tuesday primary elections, in Palm Beach, Florida, United States -United States, March 5, 2024.

Marco Bello | Reuters

The letters were sent to Chevron CEO Mike Wirth, ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods, Continental Resources CEO Robert Lawler, Chesapeake Energy CEO Domenic Dell’Osso, Occidental Petroleum CEO Vicki Hollub, Venture Global CEO Mike Sabel, Cheniere Energy CEO Jack Fusco, and EQT CEO Toby. Rice and the CEO of the big oil lobby American Petroleum Institute, Mike Sommers.

A Trump campaign spokesperson did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on the congressional request.

Trump would not be the first presidential candidate to make campaign promises to certain groups while soliciting donations.

But dining and dining with leaders from just one industry at a candidate’s residence, like Mar-a-Lago, has raised eyebrows.

Companies are prohibited from donating directly to presidential candidates. They can contribute to PACs and their employees can make private donations, but neither can do so if the donation is intended to be a bribe in exchange for preferential treatment.

Despite Raskin’s demands and his May 27 deadline to respond, as long as Republicans hold a majority in the House, there is little Raskin can do to force oil executives to provide information.

Still, Raskin’s decision to demand answers from Trump’s dinner guests could potentially benefit his Democratic colleagues in another way.

Indeed, business executives typically go to great lengths to avoid becoming the target of congressional requests for information.

The prospect of being implicated in Raskin’s investigation could potentially be enough to make some private sector executives reconsider whether or not to accept an invitation to a small fundraising dinner hosted by Trump.

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