Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Democrat Sen. Cortez Masto Took Thousands from Nordstream 2 Russian Pipeline Lobbyist

Democrat Sen. Cortez Masto Took Thousands from Nordstream 2 Russian Pipeline Lobbyist

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), a Democrat who has consistently opposed measures to make America energy independent, took thousands in donations from lobbyists for the Russian Nordstream 2 pipeline.

As gas prices surged to the most expensive ever recorded on Monday, the revelations about Cortez Masto could severely jeopardize her 2022 reelection campaign. Gas prices on Monday soared in Nevada to at least $4.590 per gallon — the second-highest in the nation behind Hawaii — and even as this happened, the Democrat senator has regularly opposed initiatives that would reduce gas prices and increase American energy independence.

For instance, Masto has opposed the Keystone Pipeline, drilling on federal lands, drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, expanding natural gas, and refused to prevent a ban on fracking.

Cortez Masto, who is running for reelection against Republican candidate and former Nevada attorney general Adam Laxalt, has also taken money from Nordstream 2 pipeline lobbyists. The pipeline runs counter to American energy independence by connecting Russian oil to European markets, thus reducing American energy exports–and is one of the reasons why, according to the Ukrainians, the Russians have invaded Ukraine. Former President Donald Trump, for his entire administration, blocked the Russian pipeline, but President Joe Biden opened it up in his first year in office — and now seems to be paying the consequences for doing so.

Cortez Masto is directly financially connected to the whole thing through campaign donations. According to FEC filings and disclosures, Vincent Roberti donated the legal maximum of $5,800 to Cortez Masto in March of 2021. Roberti represents many global companies, such as Valero Energy. Roberti Global has disclosed $8.5 million in fees lobbying for the Nordstream 2 pipeline.

Cortez Masto is among some of the Democrat Senators who have proposed a federal gas tax holiday instead of reducing dependence on foreign energy. Some believe a federal tax holiday will have little impact in Nevada. Las Vegas Review-Journal reported:

That’s because a state law in place since at least 1973 and modified in 1997 raises Nevada’s fuel tax by the exact amount of any reduction in federal levies.

The law, NRS 365.185 is clear: “This (excise) tax (on motor vehicle fuel) must be imposed and will increase if the tax collected by the Federal Government pursuant to the provisions of 26 U.S.C. § 4081 or any other tax collected by the Federal Government relating to motor vehicle fuel is reduced or discontinued in whole or in part. The amount of the tax so imposed by this State must be equal to the amount by which the federal tax is reduced.”

That means a proposal to reduce the federal gas tax of 18.4 cents per gallon sought by senators as a means of reducing gas prices that have been driven up by inflation wouldn’t change taxes in the Silver State.

Laxalt has criticized Cortez Mastio’s policies, which he claimed have increased energy prices for Nevadans. “While Nevadans struggle to pay the costs to heat their homes, purchase groceries, and fill their gas tanks, Catherine Cortez Masto’s assault on America’s domestic energy production has driven costs up,” Laxalt continued in a press release:

Prices were already going up before the Ukraine crisis and are likely to rise even further, but Cortez Masto has put green politics before the people. Independence from Russian oil and gas through American energy independence is an economic and national security imperative and Cortez Masto’s decision to handicap our production at home empowers Russia and hurts families across our state. I call on Catherine Cortez Masto to immediately reverse her opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline, support drilling and hydraulic fracturing on federal lands, and end her senseless opposition to exploring energy resources in ANWR.

According to polling, Laxalt holds a four-point lead over Cortez Masto (46 – 42 percent). Republicans are eyeing Cortez Masto’s seat as a potential flip in November. With Biden’s approval rating sluggish in Nevada, Cortez Masto is struggling to differentiate herself from Biden with a similar record on energy policy.

Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter and Gettr @WendellHusebø

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