BP’s favorite politicians

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The revolting thing about this form of prostitution of America’s politicians is not just  that it is widespread and condoned by a passive society, but that most American politicians are dirt cheap. These bastards sell the public interest down the river for a few coins.

By Dave Gilson| Fri Jun. 4, 2010 12:50 PM PDT

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Who’s BP’s favorite politician ever? If you’re just going by the numbers, it’s none other than President Barack Obama, who leads BP’s lifetime campaign donation list with $77,051. That puts him just ahead of reliable oilmen such as Alaska Republican Rep. Don Young, his retired colleague Sen. Ted Stevens, and George W. Bush. According to data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics, BP and its employees have given more than $3.4 million to federal candidates since 1990, with much of their largesse going to these 20:

Candidate Amount Received from BP
President Barack Obama $77,051
Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) $73,300
Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska, ret.) $53,200
President George W Bush $47,388
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) $44,899
Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) $41,400
Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio, ret.) $37,550
Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) $31,000
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) $28,200
Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) $27,350
Sen. Daniel Coats (R-Ind., ret.) $25,000
Rep. Lynn Martin (R-Ill., ret.) $24,450
Sen. Frank Murkowski (R-Alaska) $24,000
Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas) $23,800
Sen. Don Nickles (R-Okla., ret.) $23,750
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) $22,300
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) $22,000
Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) $21,100
Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) $20,950
Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) $20,800

Obama’s $77K from BP is 0.01% of the whopping $799 million he’s raised in his career, but as everything BP touches turns toxic, it raises a question: Would he—should he—give BP its money back? OpenSecrets asked BP’s #9 all-time recipient,Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu, the same thing shortly after the spill, and her flack answered that gifts from BP and its employees “have absolutely no impact on Sen. Landrieu’s policy agenda or her response to this unprecedented disaster in the Gulf.” So far, no other officeholders have volunteered to refund their past donations from the company to pay its cleanup (or legal) bill.

Meanwhile, BP and its employees have spent more than $112,000 on 70 candidates running in the 2010 election cycle, with 56% going to Republicans and more than 70% going to incumbents. However, the top recipient so far is a Democratic newbie, Kentucky Senate candidate Jack Conway, who’s received $9,600 from BP employees for his campaign against Rand Paul. Here’s BP’s top 15 recipients as of mid-May (see here for a more detailed breakdown):

Candidate Amount Received from BP
Jack Conway (D-Ky., Senate) $9,600
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) $7,000
Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) $4,000
Jeffrey M. Landry (R-La., House) $2,400
Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) $2,000
Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) $2,000
Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) $2,000
Rep. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) $2,000
Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) $2,000
Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) $2,000
Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) $2,000
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) $1,500
Julie Hamos (D-Ill., House) $1,400
Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) $1,250
Cheryle Robinson Jackson (D-Ill., Senate) $1,050

(italics=incumbent)

Several of the incumbents on that list are members of congressional energy committees; Murkowski is a ranking member of the Senate’s. Overall, BP donations have gone to 14 members of the House Energy Committee, 10 members of the House Natural Resources Committee, and 7 members of the Senate Energy Committee. Among the non-incumbents on the list is Jeffrey Landry, a Republican House candidate from Louisiana who has attacked the Obama administration’s recent ban on deepwater drilling in the Gulf, telling Human Events, “When he takes the…Outer Continental Shelf drilling away from us, he cripples our economy. If he increases the moratorium, he pulls the plug on our life support.” Landry’s probably not the one to do it, but seems like only a matter of time before a candidate makes a big show of sending a fat check back to BP.

Dave Gilson is a senior editor at Mother Jones. For more of his stories, click here.

One comment on “BP’s favorite politicians
  1. The hypocrisy quotient of the American congress is very high. Though the dramatic catastrophe of the oil spill in the Mexican Gulf is severe indeed, it is not the only one caused by oil companies and in fact the poisoning of the Niger delta by American and other oil companies has gone on for many years without the slightest interest because it remains in Africa and is far away. The deeply ingrained xenophobia of the American psyche was clearly demonstrated in the pillorying of Hayward of BP, admittedly not a very appealing personality, but nevertheless not deserving of the kind of prejudice leveled at him personally by the worthy representatives.

    It is an old trick to divert attention away from direct and close misdeeds to outside malefactors in order to white-wash one’s own Augean stable and congress was in high form to do so. The intense corruption of the American political establishment became secondary to this immediately available goal and the committee of enquiry had a field day.

    The result of course is already an intense disapproval in England, our supposedly constant ally where the suspended disbursement of yearly dividends by BP will dearly affect pension funds and small investors, but then truly who cares about foreign opinion in this country as we are the fierce conquerors of all that the eye can see and the mind can grasp.

    But too often this kind of small time chauvinism has shrunk any admiration the world may have had for this crude, ebullient and aggressive society. One may like the products and even the inventiveness of new ways of solving issues, but at a certain time this comes to a halt when the accompanying disadvantages are becoming all too obvious. And we are now coming close to the consequences of our own behavior. Oil has been the energy source of capitalism for a century and the two are intimately intertwined and have equally proven to be poisonous.

    With that in mind however, it is clear that enormous calamities like the 9/11 disaster can provide a catalyst for more retrograde thinking and actions. With 9/11 the opportunity to re-attack Iraq was eagerly grasped and sold to a supporting public with all the resulting dire consequences. Despite denials of the defeats there and in Afghanistan, it has become quite clear that these wars for control of the oil energy sources deepened not only the world’s resistance to our dominance but also placed a heavy burden on America’s treasury.

    The Mexican Gulf oil spill also provides a ‘casus belli’, this time with a mostly foreign owned international corporation which bought off potential banishment from American oil grounds with a hefty fine of $ 20 billion. The interconnections with other such oil companies, sharing exploration and production are intricate and will provide a shared interest in the future to deeply influence American elections, since the Supreme Court has recently authorized a full participation for corporate interests in that process by bribes and advertising.

    What one may well see from now on is an acceleration in shaping a congress more amenable to oil companies’ interests, more dependent and more bound to a depleting energy source with all the heavy toll that it may take on the earth, but also with the potential of a better insight by the public in which extraneous forces play major roles in governmental decisions. In fact the oil spill may well become a significant part in the liberation of the American mind, so closeted and restricted to its own direct environment. And maybe with that could come some insight into what Naomi Klein has so aptly described as a wound in mother earth.

    —Gui Rochat

    (M. Rochat is a Senior Editor with The Greanville Post —http://www.greanvillepost.com )

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