David Applefield wants ExxonMobil to plug the state’s budget holes.
The House candidate called on the oil giant to give the state of New Jersey $4.5 billion to make up for revenue lost because of the COVID-19 crisis.
“ExxonMobil cleared a profit of $21 billion in 2018 and $14 billion in 2019,” Applefield said. “I’m calling on them now simply to pay half of the $9 billion fine they faced for damaging the state to help the citizens of New Jersey survive the pandemic.”
In 2015, Gov. Chris Christie’s administration reached a $225 million settlement with Exxon over the company’s alleged role in the contamination of more than 1,000 acres of wetlands and marshes in the Raritan River basin.
The state initially sought $8.9 billion in damages but eventually settled for a fraction of that amount.
Exxon has not escaped the pandemic unscathed.
Though the company’s share prices rose by a little more than 5% before markets closed Wednesday and continue to rise in after-hours trading, Exxon stock has shed 33% of its value since Jan. 1, falling from $70.90 per share at the start of the year to $47.46 on Wednesday.
The former journalist’s entreaty to Exxon is part of the candidate’s larger push to create a $10 billion virus relief fund financed by corporations.
“ExxonMobil should take the lead in coordinating the corporate rescue of New Jersey,” Applefield said. “Let ExxonMobil’s legacy here not be one of pollution but of being an exemplary corporate citizen. I’d like to be able to fill up my car next time at an ExxonMobil station knowing that this company stands for a lot more than the fossil fuel I put in the tank.”
Applefield is the underdog in a three-way race for the Democratic nod in the fourth congressional district.
He faces former U.S. State Department official Stephanie Schmid, who has lines in Ocean and Monmouth Counties, and former United Nations staffer Christine Conforti, who has organizational support in Mercer County.
Earlier this month, Applefield suspended most campaign activities and pledged to mount his bid with “soul.”
Initially, that meant gathering medical equipment needed to respond to the crisis.
Now, it means asking one of the world’s largest corporations to underwrite New Jersey’s budget.
“It’s time to ask our wealthiest and most privileged individuals and corporations to share in the sacrifice,” he said. “Let’s show we really are all in this together.”