A major Democratic donor and lobbyist for Nord Stream 2 has made maximum contributions this year to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and vulnerable Senate Democrats, according to campaign finance records.
Why is this important: If pressure from the White House to vote against reimposing sanctions on the Russian-backed gas pipeline was not enough, Democrats who support such legislation will also be at odds with one of their party’s top fundraisers. .
Driving the news: Vincent Roberti, a former representative for the state of Connecticut, awarded Sens the legal maximum of $ 5,800. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) And Patty Murray (Wash.).
- He also gave $ 2,900 – the maximum primary contribution – to Senator Maggie Hassan (DN.H).
- Cortez Masto and Hassan will face competitive re-election fights next year.
- Roberti’s company Roberti Global was paid $ 8.5 million for its lobbying work on Nord Stream 2, according to lobbying disclosure files.
Between the lines: Roberti has long been a prolific Democratic fundraiser, as well as a regular donor.
- According to his company biography, he retains honorary titles in the campaign arms of the House of Democrats and the Senate – titles reserved for their major backers.
- He also donated to each of these Senators in previous cycles while working for the pipeline.
What they say : “Senator Hassan has supported vigorous action against Nord Stream 2, including voting for sanctions in 2017 and under the FY20 and FY21 defense clearances, ”a spokesperson told Axios.
- “Sen. Blumenthal is opposed to the Nord Stream II gas pipeline,” said his spokesperson. Blumenthal has been a strong supporter of Ukraine in the Senate and supports Sen. [Robert] Menendez’s amendment to trigger tough sanctions if Russia steps up its actions against Ukraine, including on Nord Stream II.
- “Senator Cortez Masto opposes Nord Stream 2 and the Biden administration’s decision to allow the pipeline to move forward. It has always supported legislation and sanctions to block it,” an aide told Axios.
- Schumer has not spoken to Roberti about this matter, his spokesperson said.
- Roberti did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Roberti isn’t the only Democratic heavyweight on this side the issue of pipelines.
- McLarty Inbound, the foreign lobbying arm of Mack McLarty’s consulting firm, represents five companies financial participations in the Nord Stream project.
- McLarty, former chief of staff to President Clinton, gave himself this year to Schumer and the Democratic Senses. Tim Kaine from Virginia, Jacky Rosen from Nevada, Michael Bennet from Colorado, Pat Leahy from Vermont and Chris Coons from Delaware.
- He is not involved in lobbying on behalf of any of the five companies, according to Richard Burt, managing partner of McLarty Inbound.
- Asked about Nord Stream as part of his lobbying work, which included a plea related to “Sanctions issues against Russia“Burt told Axios,” You should talk to the folks representing Nord Stream 2.
The big picture: President Biden’s decision to let Nord Stream 2 go ahead – along with his efforts to prevent a Nord Stream 2 sanctions amendment from being attached to Congress’ annual defense bill – has sparked a bitter struggle on Capitol Hill.
- This, in turn, put the potential Senate vote in the spotlight.
- Republicans blocked dozens of Biden’s foreign policy candidates in response to the administration’s actions.
- They also threaten to block the National Defense Authorization Act if Schumer does not agree to subject the amendment to sanctions.
The backdrop: Democrats and Republicans have for years opposed Nord Stream 2, which would bypass Ukraine’s transit infrastructure and deliver Russian gas directly to Germany.
- Biden lifted sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 operator in the spring to help mend U.S. relations with Germany.
- The White House maintains that the pipeline was already too close to completion to be blocked and that the sanctions would undermine “transatlantic unity”.
- Ukraine, however, sees Nord Stream 2 as an existential threat that would remove one of the country’s last remaining deterrents against a Russian invasion of its territory.
Go further: The battle for Putin’s pipeline consumes Congress.