Top Dem Super PAC Hits DeSantis Over Natural Gas as Its Leaders Rake in Cash From Gas Industry

April 3, 2023

The progressive movement's largest super PAC claims Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R.) is "bad on the environment" because he supports natural gas. That could be awkward for the PAC, whose leaders run a consulting firm that rakes in cash lobbying for the gas industry.

American Bridge 21st Century launched a website Monday that hits DeSantis over his support for natural gas, the use of fracking, and projects like the Keystone XL pipeline. The PAC, which told DeSantis in its launch post that "we're coming for you," suggested DeSantis's position has harmed the environment and contributed to climate change.

But American Bridge, which has spent $100 million to support President Joe Biden, has financial ties to the very same industry it decries on the DeSantis website. The Interstate Natural Gas Association of America has paid $240,000 since 2021 to ABI Associates, a consulting firm started by American Bridge cofounder Bradley Beychok. Democratic operative James Carville is an adviser to both American Bridge and ABI Associates.

The Interstate Natural Gas Association of America represents 26 natural gas companies that account for the "vast majority" of natural gas transported in the United States.

Progressives have long criticized the trade group and many of its members, including TC Energy, the company behind the Keystone XL pipeline. Those complaints are echoed on American Bridge's DeSantis site, which cites claims that natural gas drilling can create toxic hydrogen sulfide emissions. American Bridge also criticized DeSantis for supporting fracking, the process used to drill for natural gas. The Interstate Natural Gas Association of America has lobbied aggressively against regulation of fracking.

ABI Associates, which Beychok launched in 2021 with former Biden aide Ankit Desai, also specializes in spinning the media on behalf of its clients. The firm says it helps clients to "reduce negative press" and offers to tell a "compelling story to policymakers, organizations, and media" to advance its clients' interests.

The Interstate Natural Gas Association of America hired ABI Associates amid an industry-wide push to persuade liberals to embrace natural gas as a climate-friendly alternative to other fuels. Another natural gas trade group recently hired John Anzalone, a Biden pollster and adviser to ABI Associates, to provide polling data to the White House about the natural gas industry.

ABI Associates represents other companies that are under scrutiny from progressives. The firm registered last month to lobby for Greenfield Louisiana LLC, an agriculture company that wants to build a shipping terminal on the banks of the Mississippi River in Louisiana. Civil rights groups, such as the National Urban League and Descendants Project, have called for federal civil rights investigations of the Greenfield Louisiana terminal, which they say will destroy historic slave sites. The groups have also asserted the Greenfield project will contribute to "environmental racism."

American Bridge launched the DeSantis initiative in anticipation that the Florida governor will soon enter the Republican presidential field. It comes as some Democrats worry that DeSantis could defeat Donald Trump in a crowded Republican presidential primary. Many Democrats think DeSantis would also mount a strong challenge against Biden.