Washington, D.C., is a different place in August. Hotter — today, just shy of 100 again — and much quieter as the cacophony of sound bites coming from Capitol Hill fades to a few chirps. When Congress is on recess, it can seem like the whole town has shut down. Not so. The money machine is always open.
The gifts that keep on giving: Nothing drives that point home like the new website DirtyEnergyMoney.com. It’s a gift from a group of enviro and liberal organizations that lets us follow the prodigious flow of cash from fossil-fuel companies to the politicians who do their bidding. As the fall campaigns ramp up, we’ll be able to see if anyone new can break into the “Dirtiest Politicians” sextet, which now consists of:
- Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) — recipient of $1.86 million in dirty funding since 1999
- Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) — recipient of $1.7 million
- Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — recipient of $1.15 million
- Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) — recipient of $1.12 million
- Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) — recipient of $1.09 million
- Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) — recipient of $1 million)
Start spreadin’ the Newt: While we’re on the subject of oily money, Justin Elliott, writing in Salon, lays out who’s been kicking in cash to American Solutions for Winning the Future. That’s the political action committee that’s been covering the expenses of Newt Gingrich as he jets around the country hawking his books and deep-fried hypocrisy. The top contributors — here’s a surprise — include a number of Big Energy players, including:
- Devon Energy, a huge oil and gas outfit in Oklahoma — donated $250,000
- Arch Coal of St. Louis — donated $100,000
- Plains Exploration and Production Co., a Houston-based oil and gas firm — donated $100,000
- Michael Morris, CEO of American Electric Power, based in Ohio — donated $100,000
But wait, there’s more: Oil money is also hard at work in California. Two Texas-based oil companies — Valero Energy Corp. and Tesoro Corp. — have kicked in almost 75 percent of the money behind California’s Prop. 23, which would repeal the state’s landmark law to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Those two companies just happen to be among California’s biggest polluters.