Trump tells oil barons they should line his pockets with $1 billion
The table is set for a dinner for the rich at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate. In this room he held a meeting with top national oil barons, essentially bribing them by vowing to do their bidding if they line his pockets with $1billion. | Alex Brandon/AP

PALM SPRINGS, Fla.—In an act of brazen greed, presumed Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump asked Big Oil executives for $1 billion in corporate campaign contributions at a secret meeting last month at his Mar-A-Lago estate, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Politico and The Hill all reported on May 9.

All the pigs slurping their soup at the oil dinner have to do for Trump to guarantee he will serve them around the clock if he gets elected in November is to line his pockets now with a billion dollars. The promised destruction of all Biden-approved environmental protections would, in the style of so much of the politics of the rich, amount to a huge welfare giveaway to people who are already billionaires. Trump’s vow, like his tax cuts for the rich in his previous administration, would amount to just one more massive transfer of wealth from the working class to the ruling class.

Trump’s vows to the oil billionaires are a slap in the face at the thousands of people in environmental, labor, and allied groups who have worked day in and day out, for years, to clean up an unhealthy environment that has been killing Americans from coast to coast. Anyone standing on the shoreline in Brooklyn, New York, gets a fine view, on many days, of the Manhattan skyline. As late as the 1960s, before the people’s movements began to succeed, it was impossible to get that view through the haze and smog that hung over the city.

The billionaire feeding event at Mar-a-Lago was organized by Harold Hamm, who is a major architect of Republican energy policies which essentially allow the companies to do whatever they want, wherever they want. Greedy oil barons among those stuffing their faces at the gathering included top leaders from ExxonMobil, EQT Corporation, and the American Petroleum Institute, which lobbies for all the companies.

The meeting, which was leaked to the press by two attendees, came after months of Trump’s ranting and raving against Biden’s environment policies. Once he took office Biden restored and made stronger all kinds of climate rules that had been tossed when Trump was president.

Trump still thinks global warming is a lie and a hoax and he believes the oil barons agree. Thus his request for their corporate contributions. Indeed, he previously chided moguls for not opening their wallets yet.

The Trump-big oil meeting shows his true colors as a bag man for a massive transfer of wealth to the rich from the rest of us. While Trump—when he’s not sitting in a New York courtroom—tours the country proclaiming himself the champion of the working class, what he’s really doing is catering to his colleagues in the corporate class and ripping everybody else off.

If they shell over the $1 billion to him, Trump promised oil execs to end electric vehicles once and for all.

“We cannot believe this: Donald Trump essentially told a room full of oil executives ‘Raise a billion dollars for me and I’ll get rid of the regulations that you don’t want.’ This is blatantly corrupt behavior,” Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington declared.

Oil meeting participants, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Trump, who trumpets standard Republican lies about global warming, promised, if elected, to trash all of President Biden’s environmental orders and laws. Trump would also eliminate the key Biden climate protection move, converting U.S. auto, truck, and SUV production to electric vehicles.

Trump’s mantra, repeated at a Wisconsin rally last month, was coined by Sarah Palin, when she was governor of oil-rich Alaska, as John McCain’s 2008 vice presidential running mate: “Drill, baby, drill!”

Biden has championed battling global warming and enacted the moves Trump would cancel, including handing out billions of dollars in federal subsidies for EV factories and EV stations. His program also includes a $5,000 per vehicle tax credit for EV buyers—and a 50% premium on that if the vehicle is union-made.

And after an initial grant for a chip-making plant in Arizona went to a non-union firm which is partially foreign-owned, Biden now follows his own law for giving out computer chipmaker subsidies, to U.S.-owned and unionized firms, notably just outside Columbus, Ohio. Computer chips are an integral part of modern motor vehicles, monitoring everything from engine temperature to global positioning.

Outrageous move is legal

Thanks to Supreme Court rulings, sought and won by Republicans—and from GOP-named justices—for more than a decade, such an outrageous campaign contribution request is apparently perfectly legal. Indeed, there’s a case pending before the justices that would legalize all such trades except direct attempts at, in one word, bribery.

“The corporations threatening our planet and its people–including Chevron, ExxonMobil, Equinor, Eni S.p.A., BP, Shell, and TotalEnergies–just announced mind-boggling annual profits. They must stop drilling and start paying,” Ian Duff of Greenpeace U.S. said earlier this year.

“Oil and gas drilling and production from ExxonMobil and other fossil fuel giants need to be rapidly phased out–and their billions in profits must pay for the damage they’ve caused,” Duff added. Trump, the reports show, wants them to drill even more, as long as he gets their campaign cash.

Trump’s implied promise to the moguls would throw a monkey wrench into the United Auto Workers’ carefully won conversions of auto plants from manufacturing internal combustion engine-powered vehicles to electric battery and chassis plants and vehicles they would power.

As part of its new contracts with the three Detroit-based carmakers, Ford, GM, and Stellantis—formerly FiatChrysler—new Auto Workers President Shawn Fain and his bargaining team won written contract language that all electric vehicle factories and parts plants would be union plants with union wages, and on the same wage scale as those of all other Auto Workers.

One unknown: The Detroit 3 now employ a combined 150,000 UAW members, not counting UAW members at outside parts plants who sell to the automakers. Never discussed, or disclosed, was how many workers would be needed to make EV-only cars, trucks, and SUVs.

The first such plant will be part of the Stellantis plant complex in Belvidere, Ill. Stellantis closed that plant just before bargaining began in earnest between UAW and the Detroit 3. Reopening it for workers was a key UAW goal and win. Not only will Belvidere reopen with its full workforce, but Stellantis will build an EV plant there, too, employing 1200 more people.

But Trump hates EVs and all other Biden ideas to combat global warming. The Republican mogul would eliminate the millions of dollars in the current U.S. budget now allotted to that cause.

In addition to killing clean air rules, axing retrofitting buildings to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions, and ending the EVs, Trump promised the corporate cabal another big tax cut and removal of restrictions on erecting natural gas plants and exporting the gas.

A Trump spokeswoman refused to confirm the secret meeting and went on an emailed rant to the media on how Biden forces U.S. consumers to buy electric vehicles they don’t want.

Politico reported oil companies are also drawing up planned executive orders for Trump to sign on energy issues, should he win the White House again. That would go hand-in-hand with his public opposition to controlling climate change.

The overall tradeoff, while legal, shows the problems with the current campaign finance system, aided and abetted by the right-wingers on the High Court, who have loosened corporate purse strings and produced a tsunami of cash for their favorite candidates and dark money groups.

“At a high level, it perfectly captures so much of what’s wrong with our big money campaign finance system,” Erin Chlopak of the Campaign Legal Center said.

We hope you appreciated this article. At People’s World, we believe news and information should be free and accessible to all, but we need your help. Our journalism is free of corporate influence and paywalls because we are totally reader-supported. Only you, our readers and supporters, make this possible. If you enjoy reading People’s World and the stories we bring you, please support our work by donating or becoming a monthly sustainer today. Thank you!



Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.

John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.