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Progressives criticize Biden transition over volunteer who represented Exxon

Progressives criticize Biden transition over volunteer who represented Exxon
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The Sunrise Movement is criticizing the Biden transition team for its inclusion of a lawyer who has represented ExxonMobil. 

Neil MacBride, a former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, will help review the Justice Department as part of the transition team. 

MacBride represented ExxonMobil in a lawsuit against the Treasury Department that overturned a penalty levied against the company after it allegedly violated foreign sanctions. 

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He now represents an engineer at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles who has been indicted in a case involving an alleged plan to manipulate vehicle emissions tests. 

The Sunrise Movement, a youth-led progressive environmental group, said the Biden team should change its mind about his inclusion on the agency review teams

"We hope the Biden-Harris team reconsiders Mr. McBride’s appointment and works to ensure going forward that their government is free of influence from the fossil fuel industry, and is instead led by visionaries who understand the urgency of the crisis," spokesperson Garrett Blad said in an email. 

"We believe no fossil fuel executives, lobbyists, consultants to and lawyers for fossil fuel companies have any place on the transition team, or in the Biden-Harris administration. People who have profited off of climate chaos shouldn’t be anywhere near the federal government’s response to it,” Blad added. 

Ryan Schleeter, a spokesperson for Greenpeace, said that the appointment in and of itself was not likely to “move the needle a whole lot,” but called it a “red flag.”

“We have a lot of commitments and rhetoric from Biden right now,” Schleeter said. “We don’t have a lot of concrete moves from him to look at in terms of  how he’s going to put that into action so we have things like this. We have agency review team appointments that raise red flags and we have to be vigilant around that.”

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MacBride declined to comment, saying he’s not able to speak to press on behalf of the transition. 

The Biden transition team also didn’t provide a comment on MacBride specifically, but told The Hill that team members were chosen because they’re well respected in their fields and often in the agencies they’re reviewing. 

All of the members have also signed the transition ethics code and will recuse themselves from any matter involving any client they’ve had a business relationship with during the past year, according to the transition team. 

The transition team ethics plan, published last month, states that Biden “aims to ensure that those who serve are aligned with his values and policy priorities, and have not, for example, been leaders at fossil fuel or private prison companies.”

It doesn’t specifically prohibit people who have represented fossil fuel companies. 

The tensions come as Biden supporters from varying parts of the political spectrum are watching for the president-elect’s Cabinet picks. 

The Sunrise Movement and Justice Democrats on Wednesday released a wish list of candidates to fill major posts.