August 30th, 2019

How Immigrant Workers Are Fighting Deportation Raids

https://prospect.org/article/how-immigrant-workers-are-fighting-deportation-raids

Rogelio V. Solis/AP Photo

U.S. immigration officials raided several Mississippi food processing plants on August 7 and signaled that the early-morning strikes were part of a large-scale operation targeting owners as well as employees.

This week, scores of employers throughout the U.S. received “no-match letters” from the Social Security Administration, informing them that workers employed by them have invalid Social Security numbers and may be undocumented immigrants.

“People were just so afraid to leave the house that they didn’t go to work,” says Cal Soto, workers’ rights coordinator at the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON). “This is a huge economic hit to the finances of many immigrants and immigrant communities.”

This year alone, the Trump administration has already sent over 500,000 no-match letters to employers. Coming on the heels of a massive raid on poultry plants in Mississippi that saw more than 600 immigrants detained, the letters sent shock waves through the immigrant community over fears that raids may be coming soon to their workplaces.

“These no-match letters are like a silent raid,” says Soto. “It makes the boss even stronger, which makes workers a lot more vulnerable to all kinds of abuses.”

Immigrant worker advocates say that the effect of these workplace raids and no-match letters is sowing a sense of fear, preventing many workers from getting involved in organizing. Many advocates speculated that the poultry plants raided in Mississippi were targeted because workers there had been involved in organizing with the United Food and Commercial Workers, unionizing two of the seven raided poultry plants and winning a $3.75 million sexual harassment settlement.

“We’ve always thought there are risks when you’re a person who fights for your rights and their community in terms of social, economic, and racial rights. But at this time, raising our voices is also a motive for retaliation. We’ve heard that’s what happened in Mississippi,” says Rocio Aguilar, an organizer with the Congress of Day Laborers in New Orleans.

Paradoxically, immigrant worker advocates warn that workplace organizing is the only protection that immigrant workers have against the traumatic effects of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids. Without connections to worker advocacy organizations, many workers are unaware of their rights in the event of a workplace raid.

“The most important thing you can do in these situations is not panic, not to hand over any of your documents or say anything incriminating,” says Cristobal Gutierrez, a staff attorney with the immigrant worker center Make the Road New York. “If you know what to do ahead of time, you won’t panic, and you will reduce the chance of doing things that increase your chances of getting deported.”

Beyond training on how to prepare for ICE raids, being involved in a worker organization gives workers additional legal avenues to fight back. Some immigrant workers have been able to successfully fight deportation by claiming that the raid on their workplace is in retaliation for organizing.

“If we don’t have any organizing going on or a group where workers come together, you aren’t going to have the ability to bring in resources or allies when a raid does happen,” says Cal Soto. “People think about organizing as coming after a raid, but we need to think of a way to get that solidarity and network of support first.”

Some unions are starting to lead in training workers on how to fight raids. More than 30 national unions, including the Painters Union, UNITE HERE, the Ironworkers, the Bricklayers, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), Teamsters, and Laborers have launched the Working Families United coalition to get unions to focus more on immigrant rights organizing.

“Our union is a union of hard-working people, which includes immigrants; and we stand with all immigrant workers, who are trying to support their families and better their lives,” says Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, a division of the UFCW, whose union has developed a training program and rapid response to help workers in the event of ICE raids.

Other unions, like the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), have begun developing curriculum and rapid-response teams to help children traumatized by the effects that raids have on their parents.

“As educators, we know that separation from a parent causes trauma for a child that can impede learning opportunities and social and emotional health,” says Jackson (Mississippi) Federation of Teachers President Akemi Stout, who was part of an AFT emergency response group that helped respond to the raids in Mississippi this month. “Our members will do their part as frontline protectors of students.”

The National Day Laborer Organizing Network’s Cal Soto says that while unions are starting to step up to the plate to defend immigrants, the bulk of immigrant worker organizing is still being done by underfunded worker centers and immigrant rights groups like his.

“I think the unions need to be more at the front of this,” says Soto. “If immigrants saw unions out front leading on more of these issues, it would do a lot to encourage immigrants not to be scared.”

While many immigrant workers are skipping work and plunging into an economic catastrophe because of fears of the raids, immigrant worker rights advocates say that workers involved in organizing are less scared about going to work

“New members or members who stopped coming for a while or who aren’t as consistently involved are the ones who at this moment are feeling the most terrorized,” says Aguilar of the Congress of Day Laborers. “We’ve got to push them to move forward.”

The Worker’s Friend? Here’s How Trump Has Waged His War on Workers

https://prospect.org/article/workers-friend-heres-how-trump-has-waged-his-war-on-workers

Evan Vucci/AP Photo

Workers listen to President Donald Trump speak at the International Union of Operating Engineers International Training and Education Center in Crosby, Texas. 

When it comes to wowing workers, Donald Trump is an absolute magician. Through some mysterious sorcery, he has convinced millions of American workers that he is their true friend, fighting hard for them, even though he and his appointees have taken one anti-worker action after another—dozens of them.

Yes, it is perplexing to many of us that so many workers are still wowed by President Trump even when his administration has rolled back overtime protections for millions of workers and made it easier for Wall Street firms to rip off workers’ 401(k)’s (to cite just two of many such actions).

A labor leader recently explained to me, with considerable dismay, how Trump performs his magic on workers. Day after day, Trump pounds and pummels China over trade, and his macho trade war often dominates the headlines. That, this labor leader said, convinces many workers that Trump is their guy: While previous presidents refused to stand up to China, he alone has bravely launched this trade war to make sure that China stops cheating America—and American workers. The media trains its spotlight on this trade war day after day, while paying scant attention to the continuous stream of anti-worker and anti-union actions that Trump and his administration have taken. Not surprisingly, millions of have little knowledge of Trump’s flood of actions undermining workers.

I once went to a Broadway theater to see a magician famed for his card tricks—and that has helped me understand how Trump works his magic. With his strong voice and with one hand in the spotlight, that magician dazzled and did amazing tricks. But with his other hand, which was in the dark, he performed all but invisible sleight-of-hand that made those tricks and successes possible.

That’s Trump: With one hand he enchants the crowd, while the other hand, outside the spotlight, steadily pushes down and squeezes down on workers day after day.

Think tanks and worker advocates have compiled lengthy lists of Trump’s anti-worker and anti-union actions—some more than 50 items long. Herewith, a representative sample:

Trump has effectively scrapped the “fiduciary” rule that required Wall Street firms to act in the best interests of workers and retirees in handling their 401(k)s—a move that could cost many workers tens of thousands of dollars. Trump erased a rule that extended overtime pay to millions more workers, a move that will deprive many workers of thousands of dollars per year. While Trump boasted that he is the best friend of miners, his Labor Department pushed to relax rules for safety inspections in coal mines, but was stopped by a federal circuit court. Trump has made it easier to award federal contracts to companies that are repeat violators of wage laws, sexual harassment laws, racial discrimination laws or laws protecting workers right to unionize.

Trump has reversed a ban on a toxic pesticide, chlorpyrifos, that causes acute reactions in farmworkers and does neurological damage to children. He has greatly relaxed requirements for employers to report workplace injuries, making it harder for workers to know how dangerous their workplace is and what hazards need correcting. His administration is hurting gay, lesbian and bisexual workers by urging the Supreme Court to rule that federal anti-discrimination laws don’t cover them, which would give employers a green light to fire them. His administration has rolled back rules that sought to prevent payday lenders from preying on financially strapped workers.

Trump has repeatedly pummeled federal employees—he precipitated a 35-day government shutdown that left many dedicated federal workers desperate, without paychecks. He ordered a pay freeze for federal workers, only to have Congress reverse that move. His administration has also maneuvered in myriad ways to weaken federal employee unions.

In a bizarre, pro-corporate twist, Trump’s Labor Department is even allowing many employers who violate minimum wage, overtime and other wage laws to avoid any penalty by volunteering to investigate themselves. In a blow to workers of color and women, the Trump administration scrapped a rule that let the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission collect pay data from large corporations so it could obtain insights into possible pay discrimination by gender and race.

Trump’s appointees have eased safety requirements for oil and gas drilling workers. His Administration has even relaxed child labor rules, allowing 16-and 17-year-olds who work in nursing homes and hospitals to operate power-driven patient lifts without supervision— even though thousands of experienced adult health-care workers get injured each year moving and lifting patients.

The list goes on and on.

As I explain in my new book, Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past, Present, and Future of American Labor, Trump has done next to nothing to make good on his campaign promise to invest $1 trillion in infrastructure—a promise that had excited many workers. Nor has he lifted a finger to raise the federal minimum wage, which hasn’t been increased in a decade, the longest stretch without such an increase since Congress first enacted the federal minimum wage more than 80 years ago. Nor has Trump done anything to enact a paid sick days law or to increase the earned income tax credit. But, of course, he pushed repeatedly to gut the Affordable Care Act, a move that would jeopardize millions of workers and their families by leaving many more Americans without health coverage.

Trump’s appointees to the federal courts and federal agencies have moved aggressively to undercut workers and unions. Trump’s first Supreme Court appointee, Neil Gorsuch, cast the deciding vote in the Epic Systems case, which went far to gut workers’ ability to enforce their rights against wage theft, sexual harassment or racial discrimination. That ruling gives companies the court’s blessing to prohibit workers from bringing class action lawsuits and instead lets employers require workers to resolve their grievances through closed-door arbitrations, which, according to numerous studies, greatly favor employers. Gorsuch also delivered the deciding vote in the 5-4 Janus v. AFSCME case—the most important anti-union decision in decades. In that 2018 decision, the court’s conservative majority ruled that teachers, police officers and other government workers can’t be required to pay any fees or dues to the unions that bargain for them.

Trump’s National Labor Relations Board has also moved to weaken unions and undercut workers’ ability to band together. By making it far harder to define companies like McDonald’s as joint employers, the NLRB has made it far more difficult for workers employed by subcontractors and franchised companies to unionize

Trump’s NLRB appointees have said gig economy workers like Uber and Lyft drivers should be considered independent contractors and not employees, thus blocking any possibility for them to unionize under federal law. And now Trump’s NLRB appointees seem intent on stripping graduate student workers at private universities of their right to unionize and bargain collectively.

Nor has Trump hidden his disdain for unions and union leaders. Last September, he attacked—and insulted—AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka in a tweet, writing “some of the things he said [on television] were so against the working men and women of our country and the success of the U.S. itself, that is easy to see why unions are doing so poorly.” In another anti-union tweet, Trump absurdly blamed Dave Green, the president of the UAW local in Lordstown, Ohio, for the closing of G.M.’s huge auto assembly plant there, even though no one worked harder than Green to keep that plant open. In yet another ugly tweet Trump savaged Chuck Jones, the president of a steelworkers local in Indianapolis. Jones had criticized Trump for not making good on his promise to save all the jobs at a Carrier plant there after Carrier announced plans to move the Indianapolis operations to Mexico. Trump wrote that Jones “has done a terrible job representing workers. No wonder companies flee country!” (I have interviewed Richard Trumka, Dave Green and Chuck Jones many times, and I can assure you that they have fought very hard to lift and defend American workers.)

Trump repeatedly boasts that he’s created the “best economy ever”—although the day Trump was inaugurated, the economy was on third base, and Trump thought he had hit a triple. Under President Obama, the unemployment rate fell from a peak of 10.0 percent to 4.8 percent when Trump took office. Under Trump the jobless rate has fallen to 3.7 percent. And while Trump has roared about how great the economy has done under him—it was goosed slightly by $1.5 trillion in unnecessary tax cuts to corporations and the rich— average monthly job growth was higher in Obama’s second term (217,000 a month) than it has been under Trump (191,000).

Any president who cared the least bit about workers would have demanded that business agree to something—for instance, a federal law that guarantees paid parental leave and paid sick days—in return for the trillion dollar tax cut he bestowed on corporations at a time when they already had record profits.

Trump appears to have made good on one promise to workers: that he would be a warrior on trade, that he would fight to improve Nafta and battle against China’s trade violations. That, however, is somewhat illusory, because Trump has fought his trade battles so unwisely and ineffectively. One problem is that in negotiating a revised Nafta, Trump utterly failed to do the most basic thing that U.S. unions were demanding: ensure that Nafta had an effective enforcement mechanism to stop Mexico and Mexican companies from violating workers’ rights and union rights.

As for China, it was good that a president finally stood up to China’s stealing trade secrets, demanding technology transfers, and improperly subsidizing its industries. But every American worker should realize that Donald Trump has blundered hugely in his trade war with China. As any ten-year-old could tell you, if you’re going to go up against a powerful opponent, it’s best to have some strong allies line up at your side. To maximize pressure on China, to maximize the chances that a powerful country like China would make concessions, Trump should have lined up America’s traditional allies—the European Union, Canada, Japan, Australia—to join the U.S. in pressuring China. Instead, Trump has needlessly angered and alienated nearly all our allies, compelling the U.S. to take on China all by itself. As a result of Trump’s strategic blunder, China’s retaliatory countermeasures are doing far more harm to America’s farmers, workers, consumers and industries than they would have if Trump had lined up a broad alliance of countries against China. Had he done that, China could not have singled out America’s farmers, workers and consumers for harm.

Indeed, Trump—who held himself out as a champion of workers during the 2016 campaign —seems close to single-handedly pushing the industrial world into recession, which would, of course, do serious harm to workers in the U.S. and around the world. With a friend like that, America’s workers need no enemies.

Charles Manson as a Symbol of—Actually, Not Much

https://prospect.org/article/charles-manson-symbol-actually-not-much

Barbara Munker/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Charles Manson doesn’t represent the apex of hippiedom, or the dark side of the ’60s dream, any more than Sweeney Todd represents the tastes and attitudes of Victorian-era English barbers.

Strange as it is to say, Charles Manson has had quite an extensive pop-culture afterlife. Recently, he and his infamous cult served as an important subplot in Quentin Tarantino’s new film Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood. He’s also been popping up at various points in the pop-cultural zeitgeist: Fictionalized versions of him appear in TV shows such as Mindhunter and Aquarius, and in Emma Cline’s excellent novel The Girls. Karina Longworth’s superbly researched You Must Remember This podcast, which chronicles lost or forgotten Hollywood history, includes a series of episodes exploring Manson’s peripheral connections to the industry. There are plenty of amateur and professional documentaries analyzing his life and crimes, and he was interviewed by several prominent journalists (as well as Geraldo Rivera) over the years.

Then there are the biographies and true-crime books, including one by the lawyer who put him away, that explain his case in exhaustive detail. His songs have been covered by famous musicians, and back in the ’90s he occasionally appeared on T-shirts. I can think of a few times when he’s been used as a punch line in various comedy bits. It’s fair to say that at this point pretty much every aspect of his lurid life story has been thoroughly told and retold through different lenses. There really isn’t much left to uncover about him—and truth be told, there wasn’t really all that much there to begin with. The issue isn’t necessarily the quality of any of these particular examples—some of them are quite thoughtful and multifaceted in their own right—but the quantity of his appearances in pop culture is a little troubling.

The first problem with all this sympathy for a devil is that all of this attention bestows on Manson a certain measure of the fame he always craved. It also unintentionally indulges in a certain aspect of his shtick, which was to subtly suggest that he had more depth than he really possessed. Part of what helped him to create his cult in the first place was his fairly ordinary obsession with fame and pop culture. Who hasn’t wished to be a rock star or celebrity at one point or another? Manson continually stoked a murderously distorted version of that normal desire in some gullible, alienated youngsters, and demonstrated equal amounts of ruthlessness and cluelessness about what it meant and how to accomplish it. In a certain sense, he’s no less of an amoral social climber than Patricia Highsmith’s Tom Ripley, who doesn’t waste any time having moral qualms about killing his way into hanging out with the beautiful people. It’s a common American trait to want fame and fortune but not have a very clear idea about what to do with it if it’s ever attained. When you get right down to it, Manson’s truest motivations were really about as banal as evil gets.

On some level, we are all intrigued by the dark side. Centuries of mythology and literature are full of dynamic villains who flout convention and shatter the social contract to get what they’re after. Satan famously gets the best lines in Paradise Lost, and lots more people tend to want to check out Dante’s Inferno than his travels to purgatory or paradise. But one thing that every great writer knows is that the bad guys need to have something interesting about their characters, a compelling motivation or psychological complexity or dark eloquence that keeps them interesting. There really isn’t any of that going on with Manson.

Sure, Manson had a miserable and brutal childhood and was increasingly warped by spending most of his life in prison. But that only made his later violent inclinations even more textbook. Manson was decidedly not a criminal mastermind, as the pathetic tale of his misdeeds proves. Nor was he a talented but misunderstood artist—just listen to his songs for two minutes and you’ll be quickly disabused of that notion. And he was hardly any kind of radical or revolutionary leader, no matter what he tried to tell himself as he sat around playing Beatles records backwards.

The biggest problem with how we talk about Manson is ultimately categorical. He is often lazily used as a kind of easy framing device to talk about larger cultural issues and generational shifts, usually involving some hand-wringing clichés about “the death of the ’60s,” in the mode of Joan Didion’s declaration that “the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community.”

This is plainly ridiculous.

Charles Manson doesn’t represent the apex of hippiedom, or the dark side of the ’60s dream, any more than Sweeney Todd represents the tastes and attitudes of Victorian-era English barbers. There were plenty of scruffy loners with stoned raps about “The Man” wandering around Haight-Ashbury at the time, but it’s not as if they went off on killing sprees at Grateful Dead concerts. Elevating Charles Manson into any kind of representative generational figure is absurdly hyperbolic.

In truth, it wasn’t Manson or Altamont that did the counterculture in as an effective force for change. It was Richard Nixon’s massive re-election in 1972. Though the Watergate break-in soon proved to be his undoing, he did win 49 states in one of the biggest landslides in American history. And it wasn’t because he found the vital center, either.

If we’re talking about the dark impulses of an era rearing their ugly head, our object of scrutiny should be Nixon’s re-election campaign, which pushed the culture wars as far as they could go. Painting poor George McGovern as the candidate of “acid, amnesty, and abortion,” and linking Democrats to avatars of depravity was clearly intended to extend the fear and loathing in which Nixon’s target audience held dissidents to his more garden-variety political opponents. Several decades later, we can see how this set the stage for a very different president’s similar culture-war scapegoating. In a sense, treating Manson as a symbol of any general cultural drift unintentionally echoes the demagogy on which Nixon depended.

Waving aside the haze of the pseudo-philosophizing that Manson built up around himself about his ultimate meaning, motives, and impact, it’s clear how little there really was to the man himself. Manson was merely a creep who happened to use basic manipulation and stoned bullshit on already vulnerable kids, and who ended up killing an alarming number of people for no real reason at all. To say any more about him at this point, to keep analyzing him or his place in history, or to make him into a meaningful cultural signifier of any kind merely bolsters his grandiose idea of himself and reinforces how his ghastly image can be used to demonize otherwise fairly harmless folks. As a cultural frame, Manson is empty, except for whatever is projected onto him by others.

Maybe the best way to think about Charles Manson is not at all.

DSCC Raked In Cash From Health Care and Fossil Fuel Lobbyists Before Endorsing Hickenlooper

https://prospect.org/article/dscc-raked-cash-health-care-and-fossil-fuel-lobbyists-endorsing-hickenlooper

Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call/AP Images

Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper speaks at the Iowa Democratic Wing Ding on August 9, 2019.

Sludge produces investigative journalism on lobbying and money in politics. The American Prospect is re-publishing this article.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee upset local Colorado party officials last week when it endorsed former Gov. John Hickenlooper’s bid in a crowded, open primary.

Although Hickenlooper has won two statewide races in Colorado, the moderate Democrat recently ended a lackluster campaign for president, where he failed to register in the polls as he railed against progressive policy priorities like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. Just last year, Colorado Democrats won significant victories running to the left on health care and the environment.

“We met with multiple candidates and endorsed John Hickenlooper, a successful mayor and governor who won statewide twice, and is far and away in the strongest position to beat Cory Gardner next fall,” DSCC communications director Lauren Passalacqua told Sludge and MapLight.

Meanwhile, health-care and fossil fuel industry lobbyists raised almost $1.5 million for the DSCC during the first six months of the year, according to a review of campaign finance and lobbying records by Sludge and MapLight. The lobbyists’ clients include major health insurance and pharmaceutical companies whose profits are threatened by the prospect of a universal public health-care system, as well as oil and gas companies and utilities whose businesses depend upon Congress refusing to pass meaningful climate change mitigation measures.

While lobbyist fundraising only accounted for a fraction of the $28 million the DSCC raised in the first half of the year, it fits into a broader pattern of Democratic Party committees cozying up to corporate interests. In April, Sludge and MapLight reported that corporate lobbyists raising money for the House Democrats’ campaign arm had doubled their bundling from the previous election cycle.

The political action committee of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, a law and lobbying firm with offices in Washington, D.C. and Denver, has been the DSCC’s top corporate lobbyist bundler this year, raising $292,000 for the committee. Hickenlooper’s former chief of staff, Doug Friednash, leads the firm’s national political strategies group.

Brownstein Hyatt’s clients include health insurance giant Anthem, electric utility Exelon, and a host of drugmakers, including Johnson & JohnsonAbbVie and Amgen. (On Monday, a judge ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a fine of $572 million for fueling the opioid crisis in Oklahoma.)

The firm has also lobbied for Purdue Pharma, a company that has been blamed for the nation’s opioid crisis. Another client, Ardent Health Services, is a member of the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, a dark money organization created by the health-care industry to defeat Medicare for All. Brownstein Hyatt is also a member of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association and has lobbied for at least a dozen oil and gas companies during the last decade.

Holland & Knight’s political action committee has raised $185,000 for the DSCC this year. The firm represents the Edison Electric Institute, a trade organization for electric utility companies, and coal giant Peabody Energy. It has also lobbied for the Florida Hospital Association and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, which are state affiliates of organizations that oppose Medicare for All

Michael Smith, a principal and director at Cornerstone Government Affairs, has bundled $172,000. According to Cornerstone’s website, Smith has been a member of the DSCC’s “Majority Trust Legacy Circle,” a special category of VIP donors, since 2008. He lobbies for oil company Citgo and recently registered to lobby for ExxonMobil.

The Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld PAC raised $100,000 for the DSCC, while its senior policy advisor, Caryn Dyson, bundled $49,000 for the committee. Dyson lobbies for Gilead Sciences, a company that has drawn scrutiny from Congress for the increasing cost of its drug to treat HIV infection. She’s also lobbied for the Healthcare Leadership Council, a health-care industry trade organization that opposes Medicare for All.

Other clients of Akin Gump include Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), a lobbying group for drugmakers that opposes Medicare for AllMerck & Co.ExxonMobil, and Chevron.

Jonathon Jones, a partner at Peck Madigan Jones, bundled $84,000 for the DSCC. Another lobbyist for the firm, Timothy Molino, raised $45,000. They both lobby for Anthem, the insurer, and PhRMA. Jones also lobbies for drug companies MerckAmgen, and Celgene, as well as the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and the National Association of Health Underwriters, which opposes Medicare for All.

Additional lobbyist bundlers for the DSCC include:

“Those who contribute do so to support a Democratic Senate and any speculation or insinuation otherwise is inaccurate,” said Passalacqua, the DSCC’s communications director.

Ryan, a former Citigroup lobbyist who previously worked for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., told Sludge/MapLight that his firm holds an annual fundraiser for the DSCC. The donations he bundles grant him and other lobbyists access to politicians. The contributions “give people the opportunity to make their case with people who often don’t have a lot of free time,” he said.

Ryan said it was “hard to say” if any of his firm’s clients are opposed to Medicare for All or the Green New Deal, although two of his clients—the Federation of American Hospitals and BIO—are part of an expressly anti-Medicare for All coalition. Ryan said he’s never personally lobbied against either policy.

“I will support Hickenlooper,” he said. “My assumption is [the DSCC] goes based on polling and data on who has the best chance at winning. It’s an expensive state, and he’s taking on an incumbent.”

Hickenlooper has long been an ally of the oil and gas industry. A former oil geologist, Hickenlooper oversaw a massive expansion of oil production as governor. He was also a cheerleader for natural gas development, a process that releases methane, a greenhouse gas that is far more harmful to climate change than carbon dioxide. Hickenlooper even drank hydraulic fracturing fluid in an attempt to prove the process is safe.

“John has a strong track record of expanding access to quality, affordable health care and combating climate change, and his plans to continue doing so are clear,” Hickenlooper spokesperson Jacque Montgomery said in an email. 

There are 13 other contestants in the Colorado Democratic primary, including former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, who is supporting Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. 

“Let’s keep the @dscc OUT and the #GreenNewDeal & #MedicareForAll IN,” Romanoff tweeted on Tuesday. “I’m running to combat the climate crisis, secure health care for all, and build an economy that works for everyone. If that makes some party bosses & powerbrokers uncomfortable, so be it.”

This story is a collaboration between Sludge and MapLight, a nonpartisan research organization that tracks money’s influence on politics.