August 7, 2020

Environmental groups call on state Sen. Hayden to honor No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge, return money 

Minneapolis legislator accepted earlier donations from fossil fuel lobbyists

Minneapolis — Three Minnesota environmental organizations today criticized Sen. Jeff Hayden for accepting contributions from oil and gas industry lobbyists and just days later signing the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge, a commitment to reject contributions from the same fossil fuel interests.

In signing the pledge Aug. 2, Hayden promised not to take contributions of more than $200 from oil, gas, and coal industry executives, lobbyists, and Political Action Committees. However, according to campaign finance reports, Hayden has accepted four contributions of more than $200 from lobbyists and attorneys representing the oil and gas industry, and a PAC formed to support Hayden also accepted a contribution from an oil and gas lobbyist.

Hayden represents Senate District 62, which includes portions of Minneapolis. The groups sent a letter demanding that he honor the spirit of the pledge by returning the donations and by making a donation to groups fighting climate change for the amount that was donated to the PAC. The groups that signed the letter to Hayden are Sunrise Twin Cities, MN Youth Climate Strike, and MN350 Action.

“As a young climate organizer and a resident of District 62, I was relieved when Jeff Hayden signed the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge. It made me think that he would be an ally among the sea of politicians who bend to the will of fossil fuel companies and put the lives of young people and BIPOC at risk ,” said Priya Dalal-Whelan of MN Youth Climate Strike.  “That’s why it seemed odd that he refuses to publicly stand against the Line 3 pipeline, which would lock us into the destructive fossil fuel economy decades past the deadline to move to renewable energy and avert the worst effects of climate change.”

The No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge is an effort to stop the climate crisis by eliminating the effects of the dollars that fossil fuel companies spend every year in campaign contributions and lobbying in order to continue receiving billions of dollars in subsidies and friendly laws that benefit polluters over people.

“We cannot trust our futures to politicians who take fossil fuel money,” said Sasha Lewis-Norelle of Sunrise Twin Cities, part of the national Sunrise Movement. Omar Fateh, Hayden’s opponent in the Aug. 11 primary, “has shown us that he is taking the climate catastrophe seriously. Sen. Hayden has betrayed our trust by signing the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge after taking fossil fuel money. We need decisive action on climate change, and we can’t afford to have politicians being influenced by fossil fuel money.”

“We respect Sen.  Hayden’s years of public service. But in this case he certainly seems to be putting collecting corporate cash ahead of the interests of his constituents,” said Sam Benson, a volunteer leader with MN350 Action and a resident of District 62. “All across the country, we’re seeing similar strategies get beaten by candidates who are standing up for the health of their communities and for protecting our climate. Being lukewarm on climate issues is a big part of why Sen. Hayden lost his party’s endorsement.”

The environmental groups spotlighted these contributions to Hayden:

Contributions to the Committee to Elect Jeff Hayden

  • $250 on July 26 from Elizabeth Emerson, a lobbyist who represents Flint Hills Resources, Marathon Petroleum, and Covia Holdings .
  • $250 on June 29 from Cornel Moore, an attorney with Dorsey and Whitney, who according to the firm’s website “represents major energy and natural resource companies.”
  • $250 on July 9 from the Dorsey Political Fund. Dorsey and Whitney lobbies on behalf of CenterPoint Energy, Great Lakes Gas Transmission, Minnesota Energy Resources Corp., Northern Border Pipeline, Viking Gas Transmission, Xcel Energy, and Northern Natural Gas.
  • $250 on July 15 from Messerli and Kramer Political Action Committee, which lobbies on behalf of Tenaska, a leading gas supplier.

Contribution to Together Minnesota PAC  (expenditures of this PAC in 2020 have been on behalf of Hayden)

  • $500 on June 26 from Judy Cook, a lobbyist whose firm Cook-Girard represents Enbridge Energy Partners, the Minnesota Ethanol Producers Association, and the Lignite Energy Council.

Fateh, Hayden’s opponent in the Aug. 11 primary, has been endorsed by the DFL and opposes the Line 3 tar sands pipeline. He also has been endorsed by the DFL Environmental Caucus, MN350 Action, Twin Cities DSA, Black Lives Matter St. Paul, the Sierra Club, and a number of elected officials.

MN350 Action, Sunrise Twin Cities and Duluth Youth Climate Strike are also calling on state Sen. Erik Simonson of Duluth to return a 2020 campaign contribution from the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, which has a long record of backing fossil fuel interests and opposing efforts to protect our climate.



MN350 Action is the political and advocacy home for Minnesotans concerned about protecting our climate. It is the companion organization to MN350, a statewide group with 20,000 supporters working to make Minnesota a national leader in a just transition to a clean energy economy.

Minnesota Youth Climate Strike is a group of young people, mostly high school and college students fighting for environmental justice and to stop climate change. The Sunrise Movement is a youth-led political action organization that advocates political action on climate change, fighting for a Green New Deal to stop climate change and create millions of green jobs.


Brett Benson, MN350 Action
(651) 368-1226

Priya Dalal-Whelan, MN Youth Climate Strike
(651) 398-4281

Sasha Lewis-Norelle, Sunrise Twin Cities
(608) 338-4056