If Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden ends up securing the presidency as mainstream media outlets have projected, he is well on his way toward establishing a team of top advisers.
When news broke that the former vice president wanted Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA), whose campaigns have included substantial donations from the oil industry, to serve on his transition team, many within his own party cried foul.
Biden picks disappoint progressive Democrats
Biden proved to be a less-than-optimal candidate for many progressive Democrats as he equivocated on his agenda in regard to hot-button issues including calls to defund the police.
Similarly, he pursued a climate platform that many on the far left argued would fall short of their demands to bring an end to the use of fossil fuels.
Despite campaigning on positions that plenty of Americans consider radical, liberals are already expressing their dissatisfaction with the direction of the team assigned to oversee Biden’s presumptive transition.
Richmond represents one such concern, given the fact that his political career has profited considerably from the oil and natural gas industries.
He announced on Tuesday that Biden had slated him to serve as a senior adviser in the Office of Public Engagement, effectively making him the middleman between corporate interests and climate change activists.
“Feels like a betrayal”
One such activist group, the Sunrise Movement, is already denouncing the decision, asserting that it “feels like a betrayal.”
Speaking for the organization, Varshini Prakash lamented that “one of President-elect Biden’s very first hires for his administration has taken more donations from the fossil fuel industry during his Congressional career than any other Democrat.”
Meanwhile, two notable progressives from the 2020 Democratic presidential primary — Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts — have reportedly been frozen out from a potential Biden cabinet. Leftist groups are nonetheless demanding that their priorities be represented if the former vice president ascends to the White House.
An array of influential progressives signed on to a public letter urging Biden to “decline to nominate or hire corporate executives, lobbyists, and prominent corporate consultants to serve in high office,” going on to release hundreds of potential candidates for such positions.
For his part, Richmond has asserted that he plans to use the position to provide his perspective on issues like poverty, health, and education, which are serious concerns across his state and much of the South. He added: “This new role will allow me to offer advice to the president when he wants it — maybe sometimes when he doesn’t want it.”