By Mitch Gurney
May 25, 2012
In Truth or Consequences in the Budgetary Class War Waged in Congress I wrote that the Senate GOP voted down a Democratic measure that would have put an end to big oil subsidies, some of which have been around for nearly a century. The legislation, Ending Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act (H.R.601) was introduced in February proposed ending roughly $40 billion over five years in wasteful subsidies to the oil industry.
On March 29th, the U.S. Senate failed to pass legislation to end billions of dollars in wasteful subsidies to oil companies. In the month after the vote, seven Senators were rewarded for their “no” vote with campaign contributions from the country’s top oil companies (Exxon, BP, Chevron, and ConocoPhillips) and their trade association (American Petroleum Institute), according to filings with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
- Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) received $7,500, with $2,500 from the American Petroleum Institute PAC and $5,000 from ConocoPhillips PAC in April.
- Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) received $6,500, with $2,500 from the American Petroleum Institute PAC, $2,500 from Exxon PAC, and $1,500 from ConocoPhillips PAC.
- Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) received $5,000 from the Exxon PAC.
- Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) received $3,000 from Exxon PAC.
- Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) received $1,000 from the BP PAC (April was also the second anniversary of BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster).
- Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) received $1,000 each from the Exxon and BP PACs.
- Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) received $1,000 from the Exxon PAC.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who has previously voted against ending subsidies, received $1,500 from the Chevron PAC. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who supported the legislation, received $1,000 from ConocoPhillips PAC.
Several senate candidates also benefited from the oil industry’s largesse in April:
- Rep. Rick Berg (R-Mont.), who has voted to maintain oil subsidies in the House, received $10,000 in contributions from these PACs.
- Former Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) received $5,000 in contributions.
- Ohio State Treasurer Josh Mandel (R-Ohio), collected $5,000.
- Former Rep. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.) received $6,000 in contributions.
Republicans received 98 percent, or $53,500 of $54,500, given to U.S. Senators or Senate candidates in the month of April. Overall, these PACs doled out $116,000 in contributions to federal House and Senate candidates last month.
Shell Oil, usually included in the list of top five oil companies, did not make any PAC contributions in April.
In April The Fair Elections Now Act was introduced in in the Senate by Senator Richard Durbin (D-Il) on April 12th S.750 and in the House on April 6th by Reps John Larsen (D- CT), Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), and Walter Jones, Jr. (R-N.C.) H.R 1404 “would allow federal candidates to choose to run for office without relying on large contributions, big money bundlers, or donations from lobbyists, and would be freed from the constant fundraising in order to focus on what people in their communities want.”
An all-out push needs to be made to get this legislation passed. Please consider becoming a co-sponsor of the Fair Elections Now Act.
On another front, please support efforts to end corporate rule and legalize democracy by signing the Move to Amend petition, which is a motion to:
We, the People of the United States of America, reject the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United, and move to amend our Constitution to firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.
A Corporate lobbying group is stepping up pressure to maintain the status quo following the Supreme Courts Citizens United decision. Corporate Lobbying Group Asks Supreme Court Not To Use “Empirical Evidence” Of Corruption When Reconsidering Citizens United:
Late last year, the Montana high court, citing the state’s long history of corporate money corrupting politics, defied the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and continued enforcing the state’s 100-year old law banning corporate involvement in state elections. The Supreme Court has blocked the Montana court’s decision pending on its own determination as to whether to formally hear the case this fall. Allowing a full argument in matter could allow the Court to reconsider the merits of the Citizens United decision, which opened the doors to unlimited corporate and union involvement in American elections.
Now, attorneys for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a 100%-corporate funded lobbying group that has used the Citizens United decision to pump tens of millions of undisclosed dollars into federal elections over the last two years, is fighting to maintain the status quo. And they don’t want the justices to consider the evidence that the Citizens United decision, along with prior examples of corporate involvement in campaigns, causes corruption.