By Valerie Volcovici WASHINGTON (.) -The U.S. Senate finance and budget committees on Thursday launched an investigation into presidential candidate Donald Trump’s reported offer to roll back a slew of environmental regulations in exchange for $1 billion in campaign contributions. The announcement comes a week after the top Democratic lawmaker on a U.S. House oversight panel sought information from nine oil companies about reports about “quid pro quo propositions” made by the former president at a campaign event this spring at his Mar a Lago resort in Florida. “As Mr. Trump funnels campaign money into his businesses and uses it as a slush fund to pay his legal fees, Big Oil has been lobbying aggressively to protect and expand its profits at the expense of the American taxpayer,” wrote Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden of Oregon and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island. Trump had vowed to reverse dozens of the Biden administration’s environmental rules and policies at a meeting with top U.S. oil executives, where he also asked them to raise $1 billion for his presidential campaign, according to media reports. The committee chairs sent letters to several energy company CEOs and one industry trade group requesting materials distributed to attendees of the fundraising event at which Trump solicited the quid pro quo; descriptions of policy proposals discussed at the event, copies of any draft proposals or executive orders, and information about donations made by companies to the Trump campaign. The American Petroleum Institute, one of the recipients of the Senate letters, called the probe “an election year stunt.”
“API meets with candidates and policymakers to discuss the need for sound energy policies, and this meeting was no different,” said API spokesperson Andrea Woods. Trump had told executives at that event that he planned to auction off more leases for oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, reverse drilling restrictions in the Alaskan Arctic, lift the pause on LNG exports and about his dislike of wind energy, according to media reports.