Not a single Republican lawmaker was at the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington on Wednesday, an event headlined by civil rights icons, Democratic leaders, and President Obama. Top Republicans all declined their invitations citing “scheduling conflicts or ill health.”
Rather than attend the event, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R) instead met with oil and gas lobbyists in North Dakota, where he toured drilling sites in the North Dakota Bakken. According to the Grand Forks Herald, Cantor met with members of the lobby group, North Dakota Petroleum Council.
After his tour, Cantor rebuked Obama for not making fossil fuel interests his top priority:
Visited North Dakota yesterday and saw firsthand their incredible jobs and energy story. President Obama should visit and see for himself.
— Eric Cantor (@GOPLeader) August 29, 2013
Alex Seitz-Wald writes that House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), who also respectfully declined to attend the march anniversary, was most likely fundraising in Wyoming.
Unlike civil rights advocates, the oil and gas industry has deep pockets to attract Republican candidates. North Dakota Petroleum Council has major GOP industry donors sitting on its Board of Directors, including executives from ConocoPhillilps, Marathon Oil, and Continental Resources. For instance, Continental CEO Harold Hamm has donated millions of dollars to GOP super PACs.
Over the course of his congressional career, Cantor has received more than $600,000 from the oil and gas industry, while Republicans overall receive 90 percent of the oil industry’s federal contributions. The same lawmakers have repeatedly voted to uphold billions of dollars in industry subsidies.