June 28, 2022

Collin Rees,

Oil Change U.S. Condemns Nellie Gorbea for Fundraiser Hosted by Fossil Fuel Lobbyist

Earlier this month on June 10, Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea — who is running for governor — held a campaign fundraiser hosted by prominent fossil fuel lobbyist Tonio Burguos in New York. Tickets for the fundraiser, held at Burgos’ lobbying firm, started at $250

Burgos is a prominent Democratic National Committee member and a well-known lobbyist for fossil fuel companies — he has lobbied for heavily fossil-fueled utility National Grid, earned millions lobbying for oil producer Williams Companies, and is currently lobbying for Valero, the world’s largest petroleum refiner. He is also a controversial figure in New England politics, as former U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy took money from Burgos in his campaign against U.S. Sen. Ed Markey in violation of his No Fossil Fuel Money pledge and ultimately returned the contributions

Nellie Gorbea’s campaign claims a commitment to “acting on climate” with a goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. But companies like Valero have refused to commit to clear net-zero plans, and even fossil fuel companies who’ve been more forthcoming have been heavily criticized for the inadequacy of their plans and continued fossil fuel production. Gorbea has so far refused to sign the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge, a national effort signed by thousands of politicians urging candidates to reject contributions from fossil fuel PACs, executives, and lobbyists. 

In response to Secretary of State Gorbea’s fundraiser, Oil Change U.S. Campaigns Director Collin Rees released the following statement: 

“Anyone claiming the mantle of climate action must reject ties to Big Oil and Gas — it’s really that simple. Fossil fuel companies are wrecking the planet and endangering Rhode Islanders, and lobbyists like Tonio Burgos are profiting from this devastation. 

“Nellie Gorbea should join over 100 Rhode Island political leaders and thousands of politicians nationwide, including President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, in pledging to reject fossil fuel money. If she won’t, she has absolutely no credibility on climate.” 


Notes to Editors

– More info on Tonio Burgos’ lobbying and fossil fuel connections can be found here

– More info on the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge can be found here. Rhode Island signers of the pledge can be found here

Oil Change U.S. is a national organization focused on exposing the true costs of fossil fuels, supporting real climate leadership, and building a just, equitable, and renewable energy future in the United States. Oil Change U.S. is one of several organizations that coordinates the national No Fossil Fuel Money pledge. For more information, please visit

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