Candidates for governor linked to oil and gas companies

ILLINOIS (WCIA) -- The race for the governor's seat is heating up; this time over controversial investments. 

Economic interest reports filed by each candidate in November reveal Governor Bruce Rauner and Democratic candidates, J.B. Pritzker and Chris Kennedy, each have financial ties with big oil and gas companies.

It’s no surprise candidates with deep pockets and family inheritances have an extensive and elaborate list of investments but Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) says ties with “dirty oil companies” are a red flag. He's calling on his opponents to divest. 

Reports show Pritzker and Kennedy each have investments in companies like Exxon Mobile, Exelon and Chevron. Kennedy also listed the largest tobacco company in the country.

Paperwork filed also reveals both Rauner and Pritzker have money invested in a company responsible for constructing the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline. 

Biss says this is an obvious conflict of interests. The pipeline stretches beneath nearly 200 miles of land in Illinois. Some local farmers say its construction has resulted in land loss, crop damage and lowered property values. 

The Illinois Farm Bureau declined to comment on candidates’ ties to the pipeline but a spokesperson says the organization is working to resolve these issues.

The Illinois Manufacturers Association isn’t shying away from the topic. IMA Vice President Mark Denzler weighed in on the public squabble calling it a political ploy. He says ties to these oil companies shouldn't be demonized. 

They [oil and gas companies] invest billions of dollars a year in renewable types of energy, so these companies that have been mentioned are very good community partners very good charitable partners and actually they have a big expanded reach beyond just oil, so again they're good companies and it's an unfair political attack this time of year.

Biss’ campaign spokesperson, Tom Elliot, says he'd like to see those numbers, adding, “remember the IMA represents corporations that profit off of energy.”

Last week Pritzker’s campaign released plans to support clean and sustainable energy in Illinois. Ironically, Rauner called Pritzker a hypocrite for his connection to the pipeline.

Prtizker’s campaign is now downplaying its financial ties with the Dakota Access Pipeline. In a statement a spokesperson says, “JB opposes the Dakota Access Pipeline and has fought against Donald Trump’s attempts to deny science and ignore climate change.”

Similar to Gov. Rauner and President Donald Trump, Pritzker plans to transfer any assets he personally owns or controls into a blind trust, ensuring no conflicts of interest will exist.

It’s unclear what Kennedy will do with current investments but in a statement a spokesperson called Biss' request to divest a stunt. She says Kennedy will remain committed to the development and investment in renewable sources of energy.

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