Overnight Energy: Collins receives more donations from Texas oil, gas industry than from Maine residents | Interior chief left meetings off schedule | Omar controversy jeopardizes Ocasio-Cortez trip to coal mine

Overnight Energy: Collins receives more donations from Texas oil, gas industry than from Maine residents | Interior chief left meetings off schedule | Omar controversy jeopardizes Ocasio-Cortez trip to coal mine

COLLINS RAKES IN FUNDS FROM TEXAS TEA: Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret Collins10 top Republicans who continue to deny the undeniable GOP braces for impeachment brawl Furious Republicans prepare to rebuke Trump on Syria MORE (R-Maine) received nearly $50,000 in campaign donations last quarter from the Texas oil and gas industry, a number more than five times the amount in donations she received from Maine residents.

In the first quarter of the 2019 funding year, the senator, who is up for reelection in 2020, snagged roughly $49,300 from Texas-based fossil fuel donors, including the president of Hunt Oil Co. and his wife, and Stephen Chazen, president and CEO at Magnolia Oil and Gas Corporation.

Collins raised just over $1.4 million total this quarter.

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Many of the fossil fuel executives who donated maxed out their contributions, along with their spouses, at $2,700, while others donated the max amount to both Collins's primary and general election campaigns.

For example, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings, oil and gas investor Patrick Rayes of Dallas donated $5,600 total to both of Collins's campaigns. Ralph Ellis Jr., an executive at Belmont Petroleum Corp in Irving, Texas gave a total of $5,400.

A handful of PACs linked to big-name fossil fuel companies also contributed to Collins's reelection in the first quarter, according to filings.

Exxon Mobil Corporation PAC, based out of Irving, Texas, donated $1,000 to Collins, another Irving company, Pioneer Natural Resources, gave the Mainer $2,700, while Houston-based Kirby PAC gave her $2500.

Support from the oil and gas industry to Collins didn't come just from Texas. The senator also received $5,000 from General Electric's PAC and $2,500 from nuclear electric power generation giant Exelon Corporation's PAC.

The big picture: The donations amounted to a sizable sum for Collins, a senator who has served since 1997 and is often considered a swing vote on many political issues. Collins hasn't formally announced her reelection campaign but is expected to do so. She is expected to be a Democratic target in 2020, largely thanks to her support for the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughThe impeachment controversy drags Supreme Court into the politics of the Trump era Supreme Court can prove its independence — or its partisan capture Overnight Health Care — Presented by Coalition Against Surprise Medical Billing — Planned Parenthood plans M campaign for 2020 | Dem candidates embrace aggressive step on drug prices | Officials propose changes to encourage 'value-based' care MORE.

What about Maine? In comparison, donations Collins had from individuals and corporations based in her home state of Maine were much less substantial.

Collins received just $9,200 in 17 itemized donations from Maine residents in the same quarter -- less than a fifth of the amount of money she hauled in from Texas's oil and gas leaders.

A spokesperson for Collins's office did not return a request for an explanation on the high level of donations from the single energy sector in the Lone Star state.

Last week, Collins voted in favor of confirming President TrumpDonald John TrumpBusiness school deans call for lifting country-specific visa caps Bolton told ex-Trump aide to call White House lawyers about Ukraine pressure campaign: report Federal prosecutors in New York examining Giuliani business dealings with Ukraine: report MORE's controversial pick to head the Interior Department, David Bernhardt. Bernhardt, a former energy lobbyist, is currently playing a vital role in expanding drilling on public lands in the U.S. and is leading efforts to draft a new offshore drilling plan in the Atlantic.

Collins said she voted for Bernhardt after getting assurances from him in a letter that the offshore drilling plan would not likely include oil extraction off the coast of Maine.

Read more here.

 

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TWITTER BATTLE OVER OMAR COMMENT COULD END OCASIO-CORTEZ COAL MINE TRIP: The snowballing reactions to a comment from freshman Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarIlhan Omar raises .1 million in third quarter New California law bans school lunch debt shaming The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by USAA — Ex-Ukraine ambassador testifies Trump pushed for her ouster MORE (D-Minn.) may have put the kibosh on Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezObamas' first Netflix project nominated for Critics' Choice Documentary Awards Sanders wishes Ocasio-Cortez happy birthday Democrat launches primary challenge to Ocasio-Cortez MORE's (D-N.Y.) plans to visit a Kentucky coal mine.

In a battle that has largely played out on Twitter, Omar has come under fire for comments she made about people conflating all Muslims with terrorists after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Ocasio-Cortez came to her colleague and friend's defense as conservatives accused the Minnesota Democrat of dismissing the gravity of the terror attacks with her comments, and directly accused Rep. Dan CrenshawDaniel CrenshawGeorge Conway hits Republicans for not saying Trump's name while criticizing policy The absurdity of President Trump picking the Democratic nominee Missouri Republican wins annual craft brewing competition for lawmakers MORE (R-Texas) of insincerity.

Now, a Kentucky lawmaker who previously invited Ocasio-Cortez to visit a coal mine in his district has rescinded his offer over her comments to Crenshaw.

Rep. Andy BarrAndy Hale BarrThe Hill's Campaign Report: Impeachment fight to take center stage at Dem debate McGrath raises nearly million in third quarter for bid to unseat McConnell Farm manager doubts story horse bit Pence: report MORE (R-Ky.) posted a letter to Twitter Friday saying Ocasio-Cortez had acted uncivilly toward Crenshaw and urged her to apologize before visiting Kentucky.

"My invitation to you to come to Kentucky to learn how the Green New Deal could impact hard-working Americans in eastern and central Kentucky was in good faith with the expectation that you too were interested," Barr wrote in his hand-delivered letter, which he also shared on Twitter.

"But your recent comments about Rep. Crenshaw demonstrate a lack of civility that is becoming far too common in the U.S. House of Representatives."

Barr's spur-of-the-moment offer came in a March hearing of the House Financial Services Committee. Ocasio-Cortez accepted, and both offices said trip planning was in the works.

According to Ocasio-Cortez's office, it still is.

AOC response: "We're still looking at it," Ocasio-Cortez spokesman Corbin Trent told The Hill, adding that doing so was part of the lawmaker's commitment to advancing good policy.

When Barr initially made the offer, Ocasio-Cortez said, "I'd be happy to go to Kentucky, and I'd also like to note that in the Green New Deal, one of the things I advocate for is fully funding the pensions of coal miners in West Virginia and throughout Appalachia because we want a just transition to make sure that we're investing in jobs across those swaths of the country."

Barr's beef with Ocasio-Cortez came after she criticized Crenshaw for comments he made about Omar.

Crenshaw tweeted that Omar was the "first Member of Congress to ever describe terrorists who killed thousands of Americans on 9/11 as 'some people who did something.'"

Ocasio-Cortez responded, saying Crenshaw refuses "to cosponsor the 9/11 Victim's Compensation Fund, yet have the audacity to drum resentment towards Ilhan w/ completely out-of-context quotes."

More on the controversy here.

 

BERNHARDT MEETINGS WITH INDUSTRY REPS LEFT OFF CALENDAR: Newly minted Interior Secretary David Bernhardt's staff intentionally left meetings with controversial industries off his public calendar, Roll Call reported Tuesday.

Meetings with fossil fuel and timber industry representatives, as well as those with water interests, were later scrubbed from a single Google document that functions as Bernhardt's calendar. A spokeswoman cited "internal protocol" governing how the schedule is maintained.

Interior staff acknowledged that items on the calendar were regularly overwritten by schedulers, despite a probe from House Democrats evaluating whether such a practice is legal under open records laws.

Bernhardt responded to questions from lawmakers in February, saying he did not maintain his own schedule and was not legally required to do so.

"I have no legal obligation to personally maintain a calendar," he wrote. "I have not personally maintained a calendar for years, and I have no intention of suddenly doing so now."

The portions of Bernhardt's calendar that have been released simply describe meetings as internal or external, masking meetings with representatives of industries he now regulates.

Interior spokeswoman Faith Vander Voort previously told Roll Call in early April, "No, [Bernhardt] did not keep his personal schedule within a Google document."

But the department recently provided more details about the secretary's scheduling process, outlining how meeting requests would be vetted by ethics officials before being added to the schedule on the Google document. Some meetings were added to the public calendar, but others were placed on "daily cards" used to outline Bernhardt's schedule.

Response: In response to a request from The Hill, Vander Voort said, "Meetings were not left off the calendar. Labeling a meeting as 'external' is NOT leaving it off his calendar. Every version of the 'daily card' was archived."

Vander Voort said because all records were stored within Interior's "collaboration platform," the agency has fulfilled its obligation under public records law.

Watchdog investigation: On Monday, the top watchdog for the Interior Department confirmed it has opened an investigation into Bernhardt, citing seven complaints alleging conflicts of interest or potential ethics violations, including a request from Sens. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenDemocrats urge Rick Perry not to roll back lightbulb efficiency rules Bipartisan senators want federal plan for sharing more info on supply chain threats PhRMA CEO warns Pelosi bill to lower drug prices would be 'devastating' for industry MORE (D-Ore.) and Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoDemocrats urge Rick Perry not to roll back lightbulb efficiency rules Overnight Energy: Lawmakers show irritation over withheld Interior documents | Republican offers bipartisan carbon tax bill | Scientists booted from EPA panel form new group Overnight Energy: Top Interior lawyer accused of lying to Congress confirmed | Senate set to deny funding for BLM move | EPA threatens to cut California highway funds MORE (D-Hawaii.).

Bernhardt was confirmed just last week, despite a number of complaints from lawmakers that potential conflicts of interests should, at a minimum, delay the nomination if not disqualify him entirely.

"This is exactly why I wanted a delay in Bernhardt's consideration. We now have an Interior Secretary who has been on the job for one full business day and is already under investigation," Wyden said in a statement.

Read more on Bernhardt here.

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

Midwest farmers suffer after floods, Stateline reports.

Colorado House passes greenhouse gas reduction plan, Colorado Politics reports.

Court blocks gold mining north of Yellowstone National Park, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports.

More than 100 arrested in London climate change protests, from The Hill.

California governor won't block building in high-fire areas, the Associated Press reports.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Collins receives more donations from Texas fossil fuel industry than from Maine residents

Inslee says he wouldn't be shocked if Trump runs for reelection on environmental record

War of words over Omar controversy jeopardizes Ocasio-Cortez trip to Kentucky coal mine

Natural History Museum cancels event honoring Bolsonaro after pushback from climate activists

Zinke joins board of small gold mining company

More than 100 arrested in London climate change protests

New Interior secretary left meetings off public schedule: report