Former Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson will get a $180 million parting gift from his former employers when he takes the Secretary of State job, thanks in part to four Senate Democrats who voted with the GOP to confirm him for the job, despite his extensive ties to regimes hostile to the US.
The votes came from Mark Warner of Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Angus King of Maine (an independent who sits with the Dems). Three of the four are Keystone XL fans and all of them get huge checks from the oil industry.
Warner has earned his four-figure checks from Political Action Committees (PACs) operated by Exxon Mobil, Chevron, BP, the American Gas Association, and others in the industry. But corporate influence in politics doesn't bother him. Warner told a crowd of assembled business elites at a conference last year that they need to be more involved. "I get a little tired of the business community bitching about Washington but then never wanting to get their hands dirty," he complained.
Heitkamp is also a booster of the Keystone XL pipeline, claiming that it will have "minimal environmental impact." The energy industry is her second-largest pool of PAC donors in the current cycle, giving $122,000.
Manchin is another Keystone booster, telling opponents that they should "look at the jobs it creates" (it creates 35 permanent jobs). Keystone-backers like the American Petroleum Institute have supported him with their PAC dollars.
King is the only member of the Senate Democratic caucus who opposed the Keystone pipeline but supported Tillerson.
Documents reviewed by The Intercept show that Exxon has repeatedly asked the State Department for assistance in securing oil and gas concessions abroad — including help overcoming opposition to fracking permits in Germany, and negotiating with the government of Indonesia for access to gas fields in the South China Sea.
Four Democratic Defectors Join GOP to Confirm Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State [Zaid Jilani and Alex Emmons/The Intercept]