Politico: Romney takes millions from green donors

Politico continues to try undermining Romney — this time through the GOP Fifth Column.

The Politico article is below.

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Will Mitt Romney flip flop on climate change if he’s elected president?

Some big donors are betting on it.

Romney and his super PAC have taken millions from funders with strong green streaks — despite the fact that the ex-Massachusetts governor has run to the right in the primary, proclaiming doubts about global warming science and trashing President Barack Obama’s greenhouse gas policies.

Julian Robertson, founder of the Tiger Management hedge fund, helped put cap-and-trade legislation on the map with $60 million in contributions over the last decade to the Environmental Defense Fund.

Now, Robertson has given $1.25 million to Romney’s Restore our Future super PAC, plus the maximum $2,500 to the Romney campaign.

Other green-minded financial backers may not be bucking up as much as Robertson. But they still share the view that climate change science and a solid environmental agenda wouldn’t be a lost cause if Romney won the White House.

“My feeling is that on these issues that people learn,” said former New Jersey Republican Gov. Thomas Kean, who maxed out last fall to Romney with a $2,500 check. “And my hope is, as time goes on, he will understand that not everybody agrees on how you deal with these issues, but I hope he will agree with 99 percent of the scientists who believe this is an issue that we have to deal with.”

Kean said he hoped Romney, as president, could duplicate his Beacon Hill successes in building coalitions with Democrats on issues like energy and the environment. In addition, Kean noted that Romney wouldn’t face the same gridlocked climate debate of recent years, in large part because of the boom in domestic natural gas production that’s helped lower the nation’s greenhouse gas emission levels. “The whole game has changed,” Kean said.

Rob Sisson, president of the Republicans for Environmental Protection, said he’s scraping together personal funds to write a check to the Romney campaign after getting a chance to meet the former governor for the first time last month during a town hall campaign stop in Kalamazoo, Mich.

“I think his record as governor was pretty good as far as Republicans go,” said Sisson, who also gave $1,000 last June to Jon Huntsman’s campaign. “I really get the sense from him and the folks around him with whom I’ve spoken that as president he’d really look at each situation, gather the data and really make a decision that’s best for the country.”

“If that goes against the grain of how he’s campaigning now, so be it,” Sisson added. “He’s going to be driven by data and facts and not emotions and getting pushed into one corner by one faction of the party.”

Among the other green Romney donors is Texas businessman and philanthropist Trammell Crow, founder of Earth Day Dallas and winner of the Republicans for Environment Protection’s Green Elephant Award in 2007. Crow and his family have given $71,000 this cycle to Republicans, including $15,000 to the Republican National Committee and $5,000 to Romney, according to donation data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

“I am voting for Mitt Romney and I believe in global warming,” Crow said in a statement to POLITICO.

Of course, for every green-minded GOP donor, there’s a large segment of supporters pushing Romney in another direction on energy issues.

Campaigning Thursday in North Dakota, Romney tapped Harold Hamm, an Oklahoma oil billionaire and major GOP contributor, to head his campaign’s energy advisory panel. There’s also William Koch, founder of Oxbow Corp., a West Palm Beach, Fla.-based energy firm that’s given $1 million to Romney’s super PAC.

A former George W. Bush administration energy official unaffiliated with any campaign said green-minded donors won’t change Romney’s message. “If he were getting contributions from some of the guys who contribute to our president, some of the street activists, Bill Ayers, I’d be worried. But that doesn’t worry me,” the official said.

Others are raising expectations because of heavy-hitting Republican donors like Robertson.

“If for some climate advocates the influence of money in politics does not give pause, then such advocates can hope that Robertson will use his access and influence with the Romney team to shift the candidate’s position on climate change should Romney win the GOP nomination, and especially if he makes it to the White House,” American University professor Matthew Nisbet wrote last month on his blog.

If Romney won, Nisbet concluded that Robertson’s role as an EDF trustee and major donor “should give the organization significant access to the Oval Office.”

Robertson isn’t trying to buy access, said his spokesman Fraser Seitel.
“The reasons he’s supporting Romney are very simple,” Seitel said. “In his view, Romney is smart enough, moral enough and fit enough to run the country.”

“In terms of the environment and climate change controls, which he does believe is one of the most important issues the country and the world faces, he has confidence that Romney, once he’s in there, will do the right thing,” Seitel added.

Green-minded donors have also shelled out to other GOP presidential candidates this cycle.

Former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, a long-time Nature Conservancy board member, gave the maximum $2,500 to Huntsman last summer. Former White House counsel C. Boyden Gray gave $2,500 to Huntsman and then followed that up with the same donation amount in January to Romney after Huntsman left the race. Bill Dore, a semi-retired energy consultant, has donated more than $1 million to the super PAC boosting Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign.

Dore made his fortune in the pipeline and offshore drilling equipment business. But for years, Dore, now 69, also butted heads with the oil and gas industry in his native Louisiana. Not only did he sue multiple oil companies for polluting 9,000 acres of marshland he had leased to them for drilling, but he also was a leading backer of bills in the Louisiana state Legislature to protect other landowners’ abilities to file similar so-called legacy site suits.

“I am absolutely sure that he lost friends over that,” said Butch Gautreaux, a former Democratic state senator who sponsored legislation on the issue backed by Dore.

Gautreaux, who received at least $2,500 in campaign contributions from Dore, told POLITICO that Dore “not only put himself on the line, but he also spent a lot of money doing engineering studies backing what he was alleging at the time.”

Before this year, Dore had given $637,000 in federal and state contributions, split about equally between the parties. His biggest contributions had been to the Republican Governors Association ($50,000 in 2010) and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ($28,500 in 2008) — which, interestingly, had helped defeat Santorum in 2006.

Dore did not respond to repeated requests for comment about his political views or motivation for donating to the super PAC supporting Santorum, who has pushed for expanded oil drilling and hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas.

But Gautreaux, who said he considers himself “good friends” with Dore, called him “an oil and gas environmentalist” and said his political involvement is motivated by a sense of “doing what you believe is the right thing to do for the right reason.”

2 thoughts on “Politico: Romney takes millions from green donors”

  1. Romney’s big campaign issue is the economy. When it comes to anything else, such as foreing relations ot eh envoronment, he will likely follow the money.

  2. Anyone who can ask with a straight face “will Romney flip-flop” on ANYTHING probably couldn’t pick him out of a lineup.

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