Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Says ExxonMobil Lobbying Tactics 'Shameful' and 'Explosive'

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called ExxonMobil's tactics "shameful" and "explosive" following a report on controversial comments by lobbyist Keith McCoy.

Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat who represents New York's 14th congressional district, spoke to the U.K.'s Channel 4 News on Thursday, after the network aired undercover video of McCoy discussing lobbying efforts on behalf of the oil and gas giant.

In recordings captured by Greenpeace U.K's investigative platform, Unearthed, McCoy named several senators who were key to ExxonMobil's lobbying operation, including Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV).

McCoy told the undercover Greenpeace reporters that he had lobbied the senators to remove or weaken climate change measures in President Joe Biden's initial $2 trillion infrastructure proposal. He also suggested ExxonMobil's public stance supporting a carbon tax wasn't genuine.

Ocasio-Cortez told Channel 4 News: "This is serious because this is talking about whether our basic democratic rights can be purchased."

"And if our rights can be purchased, our democracy can be purchased," she said. "And if democracy is purchased, it is dismantled."

McCoy named 11 senators, including Manchin, whom he described as the "kingmaker." Manchin holds a powerful position in the evenly divided Senate and is seen as key to the Democrats' legislative agenda.

Federal Election Commission (FEC) data shows that nine of the senators named have received financial contributions from ExxonMobil, Channel 4 News reported on Wednesday. There is no suggestion that any of the senators have behaved illegally.

"On the one hand, it's shocking and on the other hand, it is ... it's not, and that is tragic," Ocasio-Cortez said on Thursday.

She pointed to members of Congress who haven't taken donations from corporate Political Action Committees (PACs) and said she had never had a closed-door meeting with a corporate lobbyist.

"And the extent to which it was almost part of their [ExxonMobil's] sales pitch that they have access to influential members of Congress who then take these conversations that they have with corporate lobbyists and then try to package them as bipartisan or objective, it's shameful," Ocasio-Cortez said.

She went on to discuss the "dark underbelly of Washington that works this way," but said it was unusual for a situation like this to be revealed as it was happening. She cited plans for a reconciliation bill set to coincide with the passage of the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework.

"I think it's explosive," Ocasio-Cortez said.

ExxonMobil Chief Executive Officer Darren Woods issued an apology following the release of McCoy's comments. He said he was "deeply apologetic" and "shocked" by the remarks, "including comments regarding interactions with elected officials."

"We were shocked by these interviews and stand by our commitments to working on finding solutions to climate change," Wood said.

Newsweek asked Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and ExxonMobil for comment.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Speaks Outside Union Station
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) speaks during an event outside Union Station on June 16, 2021, in Washington, DC. Ocasio-Cortez has called ExxonMobil's lobbying tactics "shameful." Win McNamee/Getty Images