Likely President-elect Joe Biden will announce on Tuesday that Louisiana Democratic Rep. Cedric Richmond will be leaving Congress to join his administration, likely as an advisor, according to multiple reports citing anonymous sources.
Richmond, who was Biden’s campaign co-chair and transition co-chair, has one of the most oil and gas-friendly voting records among all Democrats in Congress. Richmond was one of 28 House Democrats to vote in favor of approving construction of the Keystone XL pipeline in 2015, which would connect Canadian oil fields to existing pipeline systems that terminate near the Gulf Coast.
As Sludge previously reported, Richmond has made a habit over the years of breaking with Democrats to vote in favor of Republican energy bills:
Richmond, a member of the moderate New Democrat Coalition, has voted in favor of many Republican bills opposed by environmentalists over the years, including Rep. Markwayne Mullin’s (R-Okla.) bill to exempt cross-border pipelines from environmental review, Rep. Joe Barton’s (R-Texas) bill to reverse the crude oil export ban, Rep. Doc Hastings’ (R-Wash.) bill to expand offshore drilling, and Rep. David McKinley’s (R-W.V.) bill to block the Environment Protection Agency from regulating the disposal of toxic coal ash.
Richmond is not just a big oil and gas booster, he’s also a top Democratic recipient of the industry’s money. Richmond has received $340,750 from the industry over the course of his House career, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Only four other current Democratic members of the House have taken more oil and gas money than Richmond.
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In his recent election, Richmond took $146,500 from the PACs of oil and gas and electric utilities organizations despite being a virtual shoo-in for re-election. The PACs of Chevron, Phillips 66, Valero, and The Williams Companies each chipped in the legal maximum of $10,000, while Exxon Mobil’s PAC gave $6,000. Cheniere Energy, the natural gas exporting company where Biden climate adviser Heather Zichal was a board member, gave Richmond $1,000 through its PAC.
Last year, the New Orleans chapter of the Sunrise Movement, a national youth-led climate group, posted a link on its Facebook page to a report on the high rates of cancer in the polluted areas of Richmond’s Second Congressional District and the unsuccessful efforts of affected constituents to seek meetings with his office. “Why is the Democrat Cedric Richmond absent from the fight for climate and environmental justice?,” the group wrote.
According to The Hill, Richmond “will assume a senior role similar to that of Valerie Jarrett in the Obama administration.” Jarrett, whose roles included running the Labor Department’s Office of Public Engagement, was one of Obama’s closest advisors and confidantes and is widely considered to have been one of the most influential figures of the Obama administration.
Biden is expected to announce Richmond’s position at a press conference on Tuesday morning, in addition to other hires, on Tuesday. According to Politico, Biden will also announce a key administration role for his longtime adviser Steve Richetti, the former president of a lobbying firm whose clients list was heavy with pharmaceutical companies.
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