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- Utah GOP Rep. John Curtis, who splits with many on the right on the issue of climate change, has received thousands in campaign donations from green energy donors, according to Federal Election Commission filings.
- Curtis recently jumped in the race for outgoing Sen. Mitt Romney’s seat in 2024 after initially opting against such a bid, adding to the crowded Republican primary field.
- “The Republican primary voters [sic] will have a choice to pick somebody as their nominee who is either more like Sen. [Mike] Lee, who I would argue is a true conservative, or more like Sen. [Mitt] Romney, who has never really been much of a conservative especially on these issues,” Tom Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
(DCNF)—Republican Rep. John Curtis of Utah, who recently jumped into the race for outgoing Sen. Mitt Romney’s seat, has raked in thousands of dollars in donations for his congressional bids from the green energy industry, according to campaign finance records.
Curtis launched a campaign for Senate on Jan. 2 after previously ruling it out shortly after Romney announced he would not seek another term in the upper chamber, adding to the primary already chock-full of prominent Republicans. The congressman, who has split from many on the right about climate change, brought in thousands from green energy organization’s and companies’ affiliated political action committees (PACs) during his four House bids, Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings show.
“Congressman Curtis is one of the leaders of a small but vocal minority in the Republican Party that thinks that the Republicans need to capitulate on the issue of climate change for fear of losing younger voters, and the survey data simply just doesn’t bear that out,” Tom Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Curtis is the chair of the Conservative Climate Caucus, which states its goal is to reduce emissions while not limiting consumer choices. The caucus aims to inform members of “climate policies and legislation consistent with conservative values.”
The congressman believes that curbing climate change will bolster the economy rather than hinder it through promoting energy innovation in the private sector, like carbon capture, according to Politico.
The Bipartisan Climate Action’s political arm has given $13,500 in donations to the congressman’s campaign from 2021 to 2023, FEC data shows. The group is focused on reelecting members who push “significant, enduring, and bipartisan legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
Between 2020 and 2022, the Environmental Defense Action Fund’s affiliated PAC donated $5,500 to Curtis’ congressional campaign, according to FEC filings. The nonprofit’s political arm, which is committed to “electing climate champions,” encourages the Biden administration to promote electric vehicles and reduce emissions.
Sunnova Energy’s corporate PAC contributed $1,000 to Curtis’s efforts in May 2023, along with another $1,000 donation in late September, just after he announced he was considering running for Senate, according to FEC filings. The companyallegedly took advantage of elderly customers who were near-death by convincing them to sign expensive multi-decade rooftop solar contracts, according to The Washington Free Beacon.
“A lot of those companies are looking for a way to try to create a sense of bipartisanship in the sort of climate agenda. And when you have a member in the Republican Party that makes overtures about climate change, naturally, they will gravitate towards him,” Pyle said.
The campaign also brought in donations from the Solar Energy Industries Association’s affiliated PAC to the tune of $12,500 between 2022 and 2023, FEC records show. The trade association hopes that solar will “achieve 30% of U.S. electricity generation by 2030.”
Other affiliated PACs for green energy companies like NextEra Energy, Sempra Energy and Noble Energy have also donated thousands to Curtis’ campaign, to the tune of a combined $11,500 since 2018, according to FEC filings.
Curtis has been critical of the Biden administration’s costly green energy efforts, including the president’s signature climate law, the Inflation Reduction Act, according to Politico. The congressman hosts the “Conservative Climate Summit” on college campuses to engage with younger voters on the issue, and has travelled abroad to the last three U.N. climate summits.
“Being a marginal Republican, he will be a very popular candidate with Republican front groups, like [Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions] and Clear Path. He will also be popular with formerly Republican-leaning operations like the [American Petroleum Institute] and the Chamber,” Mike McKenna, GOP strategist and former Trump administration energy adviser, told the DCNF. “He may be one of the few people in Utah who would not be an upgrade from Sen. [Mitt] Romney.”
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Curtis, former mayor of Provo, Utah, used to be a Democrat and served as his county party chair in the early 2000s, according to Deseret News.
Brent Orrin Hatch, son of the late Sen. Orrin Hatch who was succeeded by Romney, jumped into the race on the same day as Curtis. State House Speaker Brad Wilson launched a Senate bid in late September, and Riverton Mayor Trent Staggshas been running for Romney’s seat since May.
A Guidant Polling and Strategy survey released in mid-December found Curtis with 40% support among the crowded Republican primary field, followed by Wilson at 11% and Staggs at 6%. The remaining 43% of likely primary voters were not yet sure of their choice.
“Voters of Utah will have a choice,” Pyle said. “The Republican primary voters [sic] will have a choice to pick somebody as their nominee who is either more like Sen. [Mike] Lee, who I would argue is a true conservative, or more like Sen. [Mitt] Romney, who has never really been much of a conservative especially on these issues.”
Curtis’ campaign did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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