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ICYMI: NBC News: Sununu Family Linked to Exploitation of Natural Resources in Amazon Rainforest

In case you missed it, a new NBC News investigation links Governor Chris Sununu’s family to upcoming copper mining activities in the Colombian Amazon rainforest. The article raises serious ethical and environmental questions about the family’s aggressive exploitation of natural resources, political connections to the business, and illustrates the depths to which the Sununu family are deeply entrenched in the mining industry.

The family has been in the mining business for decades, led by Governor Sununu's father and brother, who are board members of the mining company, Libero Copper & Gold.

Read the full article here. Key Excerpts:

  • The proposed mine would be the first legal metals mine in the country’s Amazon, part of Colombia’s push to become a major copper producer. Its development is being fueled by the global drive for metals for green energy, and in part by the family of New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu.

  • Sununu’s politically connected, climate change-denying father, John H. Sununu, and brother, Michael Sununu, are more than just investors in Libero Copper & Gold. Michael is a board member of Libero, and he and his father sit on the board of the company’s largest shareholder, Anglo Asian Mining PLC, which operates in Azerbaijan. John Sununu is the second-largest shareholder of that company, with a nearly 10% stake.

  • Chris Sununu, 48, who explored a campaign for the 2024 the Republican presidential nomination earlier this year before deciding not to run, has not disclosed any direct involvement with either company, and has no involvement in their operations, according to his office. But his relatives’ role on the two boards raise potential ethical concerns, good government groups said. If he is ever elected to federal office, his decisions could impact the foreign governments that regulate those companies.

  • “This is really a black box in terms of how well we’re able to judge the level of involvement in foreign interests [for family members] and how that might affect decision making in the U.S. political system,” said Alex Baumgart, a researcher with OpenSecrets, a nonprofit that tracks money in American politics.

  • The family has had a wide range of business interests in the past two decades — mostly in New England — from real estate, banking and biotech to running a ski resort.

  • Many political families have sprawling business interests, said Virginia Canter, chief ethics counsel for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, but it is international investments, particularly board memberships, that can raise the most ethical concerns for public officials.

  • “Foreign entanglements potentially give rise to questions about favoritism, bias, undue influence, and the potential for corruption,” she said. “As the world became more globally connected, these family opportunities have escalated, and their significance has probably escalated in turn.”

  • “[Board membership] suggests an increased level of involvement and profit connection than just someone who owns some random amount of shares,” said Baumgart of OpenSecrets. But the extent and influence of those ties is difficult to trace because financial disclosure requirements differ by type of elected official, and most American financial disclosures only require officials to include information about spouses and dependents, not parents, siblings or other family members.


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