Update: Amy Klobuchar has since returned the donations from Enbridge project manager Robert Kratsch.
If you haven’t been paying attention to Enbridge’s Line 3, know that the nation is starting to.
The proposed $2.6 billion, 337-mile-long oil pipeline planned to span the Mississippi Headwaters (and tribal lands) isn't just a Minnesotan issue anymore. It’s now poised to become a significant topic of debate for the 2020 election.
Jay Inslee, a Democratic presidential candidate currently serving as Washington’s governor, recently came out against the pipeline, and so has Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Meanwhile, CNN’s Climate Town Hall is looming on the horizon, which means it’s possible other candidates will be asked to reveal where they stand come September.
With that in mind, political watchdog blog Eyes on the Ties published a post Tuesday further delving into the 2020 presidential crowd and their connections to the pipeline—specifically their fiscal ones. Derek Seidman, a research analyst with the nonprofit Public Accountability Initiative, compiled all 2019 campaign donations from donors with Enbridge listed as their employer.
He says he wasn’t aiming to call out any candidate in particular—just creating a survey of who’s receiving money from whom. But he says he was pretty surprised by the results.
So far, according to Seidman and the Federal Election Commission, donors affiliated in some way with Enbridge have given a little over $8,000 to two candidates: sitting President Donald Trump and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
“The donations to Trump didn’t surprise me,” Seidman says. “But the donations to Klobuchar did.” In fact, the bulk of that total—some $5,600—went to the Minnesota senator’s fundraising group, Amy for America. All of it came from a single individual donor, Robert Kratsch, who is listed as a project manager for Enbridge.
Klobuchar’s campaign didn’t respond to interview requests, and so far, it’s been hard to gauge where exactly she stands on the pipeline. Her state director, Ben Hill, told MinnPost she supports an environmental review of the project before it’s built. She’s also one of many Democrats pledging not to take donations exceeding $200 from the fossil fuel “executives, lobbyists, or PACs.”
But her campaign has already gotten a little heat for its stance—or lack thereof—on Line 3. A few commenters on Twitter have called on her to stop “equivocating” and pick a side.
On one hand, Seidman understands how a representative from Minnesota would attract funds on either side of the Enbridge divide. In many ways, this state is the key battleground for the issue. On the other, Democratic voters are increasingly treating the environment and climate justice as hardline issues, and Line 3 is now a part of that discussion.
He says he’s curious if, given her no-fossil-fuel pledge, Klobuchar would be willing to return the funds. Only time—and Klobuchar herself—can say.