Skip to main content

Chevron and Exxon boost campaign donations to Democrats

Chevron Corp (CVX.N) and Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N), the two largest US energy firms, have increased their share of campaign donations to Democrats in 2020, according to the latest filings.

Big Oil campaign money

Reuters reports:

Chevron contributed roughly 28% [$4.9 million] of its political funds to Democratic candidates this cycle, from 26% in 2016. Exxon sent 41% of its contributions to Democratic candidates and parties, up from 32.6% in the last presidential election, the data showed. [Exxon contributed $1.8 million in total to all candidates and groups.]

According to the independent, nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), oil and gas companies regularly pump the vast majority of its campaign contributions into Republican war chests. In this election cycle, 85% of all fossil-fuel donations have gone to the Republican Party and conservative groups.

The top contributor to candidates and party committees was Energy Transfer Partners, who poured $13.9 million into Republicans and conservative bank accounts this election cycle (none to Democrats and liberals), compared to $2.3 million spent in 2016. Energy Transfer Partners owns the controversial and contentious Dakota Access Pipeline, which is supported by Trump and will be on shaky ground if Democrat Joe Biden wins.

An anomaly in the oil and gas list of contributors is the family-owned Samson Energy, who is the only fossil-fuel company on CRP’s list to exclusively give to Democratic and liberal recipients. It has contributed $2.5 million. (Electrek asked Samson why it’s pouring money into blue recipients and will report back, as Samson didn’t have an immediate answer.) Samson is selling off its assets and exiting out of the oil and gas business. The company currently owns around 50 wells, which are located in Wyoming’s DJ Basin.

Lobbying money

On the lobbying front, the top clients in 2020 are:

  • Chevron: $5 million
  • Exxon Mobil: $4.43 million
  • Koch Industries: $4.42 million
  • Royal Dutch Shell: $3.56 million
  • Occidental Petroleum: $2.94 million

Koch Industries is an oil, chemical, and cattle conglomerate.

In 2019-20, Donald Trump received $1,873,342, and Joe Biden received $769,956 from fossil fuels.

Electrek’s Take

Why would Chevron and Exxon give to Democrats when the party is pushing green energy (but the Dems are in favor of fracking)? Chevron spokesman Sean Comey said [via Reuters]:

[The contributions are to] support the election of candidates who believe, like we do, in the value of responsible oil and natural gas development and organizations and measures that are aligned with our business interests.

Or, in other words, Democrat Joe Biden is leading in the polls, so it would appear that Chevron and Exxon have decided to not put all their eggs in one basket.

This is an unusual shift for US oil giants, but it’s not radical — there’s still a lot of business as usual. They’ve always given more money to Republicans and conservative groups in the US, and that hasn’t changed. (And Royal Dutch Shell, we’re watching you, as you try to position yourself as moving into green energy and say you’ll reach net zero by 2050.)

Meanwhile, in yet another revealing ExxonMobil reveal, the Guardian reports:

ExxonMobil drew up plans to expand fossil fuel production, internally calculated how much this would increase their carbon dioxide emissions, then failed to disclose those estimates to investors.

As we said, business as usual.

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

You’re reading Electrek— experts who break news about Tesla, electric vehicles, and green energy, day after day. Be sure to check out our homepage for all the latest news, and follow Electrek on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to stay in the loop. Don’t know where to start? Check out our YouTube channel for the latest reviews.



Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in St. Petersburg, Florida. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.