Oil companies help fund Republican buyout plans
If Republicans win a majority in the House or Senate in next month’s midterm elections, they will have the oil and natural gas industry to thank, at least to some extent.
Oil and gas companies have been among the top donors to the Congressional Leadership Fund and the Senator Leadership Fund since early last year, according to federal campaign disclosures.
The organizations are closely tied to Republican leaders in Congress and, as political action super committees, are able to raise and spend unlimited funds to advocate for and against candidates, so long as they do not coordinate directly with candidates or their campaigns.
Republicans are eager to pursue policies favoring the oil and gas industry, including more leases on federal lands and fewer climate restrictions. The GOP also plans to use committee hammers to lobby administration officials against President Joe Biden’s green agenda.
The CLF and SLF have invested more in midterm cycle elections than any other organization, according to federal records, as the GOP seeks to maximize gains in an election year when the president’s party is expected to make wrong. CLF spent at least $136 million and SLF spent at least $180 million.
Records show Chevron Corp. gave $3 million to CLF as of September 30, the most recent information available, making it one of the largest donors.
Other oil and gas interests are not far behind. The American Petroleum Institute, refining and industrial conglomerate Koch Industries Inc., and pipeline company Energy Transfer Partners LP each contributed $2 million to CLF, as did OTA Holdings LLC, a subsidiary of pipeline company Enterprise Products Partners LP. , making him one of the largest donors to the organization. Drilling company Occidental Petroleum Corp. donated $1 million.
Occidental’s $4 million donations to SLF have made it one of the top donors to the super PAC – although No. 1 is One Nation, an SLF-linked nonprofit that can accept contributions without disclose donors. Chevron gave $2.75 million to SLF, while Koch gave $1.5 million, and OTA and API each gave $1 million.
Fossil fuel interests have long favored Republicans in their donations. But this round’s oil and gas donations to Republican-aligned super PACs are particularly noteworthy because they have eclipsed most other interests.
None of the companies donated to the House Majority PAC or the Senate Majority PAC, the Democrats’ equivalent super PACs, though some of them also donated smaller amounts to individual Democrats or groups like the Democratic Governors Association.
Super PACs, made possible by two 2010 Supreme Court decisions, give companies the ability to contribute unprecedented amounts of money to campaigns.
They can still set up regular PACs to donate directly to candidates’ campaigns, but those donations are subject to limits, including a cap of $5,800 per candidate — far lower than what some large corporations and wealthy individuals give to candidates. great CAP.
Environmental groups such as the League of Conservation Voters have also dramatically increased their campaign spending for Democrats via super PACs over the past decade (Daily O&MOctober 11).
Disclosed donations may not tell the full story of oil and gas contributions. Companies can also donate to nonprofits such as One Nation and House GOP’s American Action Network.
Fossil fuel companies were initially skeptical about whether super PAC donations were a good idea, but many have since returned to it, said energy policy consultant and former lobbyist Stephen Brown.
“I think these are smart business investments. Totally defensible,” he said.
Brown also sees the logic in reserving big donations for Republicans, who have long been far more supportive of fossil fuel companies than Democrats. The two top House GOP leaders — Kevin McCarthy of California and Steve Scalise of Louisiana — hail from major oil-producing states and districts.
“What is the point, if you are in fossil fuels, of contributing to a democrat? There is no positive side. The only justification is if you think they will go easy on you. But they will never spare you, because politically it is not in their interest,” he said. “It’s a pretty easy decision to make, honestly.”
GOP super PACs used at least some of the money they got to advance fossil fuel industry priorities of increasing oil and gas drilling and rejecting proposals to restrict development and the use of fossil fuels.
A CLF television ad says Yadira Caraveo, the Democratic candidate for Colorado’s 8th district, “proudly penned a bill that could eliminate thousands of energy jobs in Colorado and voted to increase the gas tax,” which “threatened the livelihoods of families already struggling to put food on the table or fill the tank to get to work.
Caraveo takes on Republican Barbara Kirkmeyer for the newly created seat.
An SLF ad says Democrat Tim Ryan, a representative running for the Ohio Senate seat, supports “a Green New Deal that would skyrocket energy prices in Ohio.”
Ryan is running against Republican JD Vance.
Asked about the donations, API said they aligned with the group’s political priorities.
“API supports candidates on both sides of the aisle who support our industry and who understand that the private sector and government must work together to unleash investment in America, create new access to energy, and avoid politics. pests and duplicate regulation,” Amanda Eversole, the group’s executive vice president and chief advocacy officer, said in a statement.
Chevron also defended its contributions.
“Chevron makes political contributions to support candidates who are committed to responsible energy resource development, reasonable regulatory regime, economic development and free enterprise. Our contributions are made in accordance with the law,” spokesman Bill Turenne said, noting that the company routinely discloses its political donations and dues.
Others did not respond to requests for comment.