ExxonMobil Lobbyist Reveals Joe Manchin 'Kingmaker' Among 11 Senators Targeted

A senior lobbyist for ExxonMobil has claimed the oil giant is secretly fighting legislative attempts to tackle climate change—and identified Democratic Senator Joe Manchin as one of the lawmakers targeted in the campaign.

Lobbyist Keith McCoy's remarks were covertly recorded by Greenpeace UK's investigative platform Unearthed and shared with British news program Channel 4 News.

Greenpeace UK's reporters had posed as headhunters seeking to hire a Washington lobbyist for a client and approached McCoy, who agreed to speak via Zoom.

During the call, recorded last month, McCoy alleged that ExxonMobil had used third-party organizations to fight legislative action on climate change, despite publicly claiming to be working to tackle the issue.

"Did we join some of these shadow groups to work against some of the early efforts? Yes, that's true. But there's nothing, there's nothing illegal about that," McCoy said. "We were looking out for our investments. We were looking out for our shareholders."

He also claimed that he had lobbied several key senators to oppose climate change measures in President Joe Biden's infrastructure and jobs legislation.

Along with Manchin, McCoy named 10 other senators he described as "crucial" to ExxonMobil's efforts. Five are Republicans—John Barrasso, John Cornyn, Steve Daines, Shelley Moore Capito and Marco Rubio. Five are Democrats—Chris Coons, Maggie Hassan, Mark Kelly, Kyrsten Sinema and Jon Tester.

There is no suggestion that any of the 11 senators have acted illegally.

Newsweek has contacted McCoy and all the senators for comment.

Joe Manchin speaks with reporters
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) talks with reporters before boarding a bus outside the U.S. Capitol for a meeting at the White House on June 24. Chip Somodevilla/Getty y Images

According to Channel 4 News, Federal Election Commission data shows that all the senators except Hassan and Kelly have received financial contributions from ExxonMobil.

McCoy described Manchin as the Senate's "kingmaker," adding that he spoke to the West Virginia lawmaker's office on a weekly basis. The moderate Democrat wields outsize influence thanks to the 50-50 split in the upper house, and has been an impediment to parts of Biden's agenda.

"You want to be able to go to the chief... and say we need Congressman So-and-So to be able to either introduce this bill, we need him to make a floor statement, we need him to send a letter," McCoy said in the recording. "You name it, we've asked for everything."

In a statement to Channel 4 News, ExxonMobil said its "lobbying efforts fully comply with all laws and are publicly disclosed on a quarterly basis."

After details of McCoy's claims were published, ExxonMobil's chairman and CEO Darren Woods released a statement, saying they "in no way represent the company's position on a variety of issues, including climate policy and our firm commitment that carbon pricing is important to addressing climate change."

Woods said: "The individuals interviewed were never involved in developing the company's policy positions on the issues discussed.

"We condemn the statements and are deeply apologetic for them, including comments regarding interactions with elected officials. They are entirely inconsistent with the way we expect our people to conduct themselves. We were shocked by these interviews and stand by our commitments to working on finding solutions to climate change."