Muckraker: Grist on Politics

*Several corrections have been made to the original post to fix inaccuracies in the report from Alaska Wilderness League.

Green conservative” Newt Gingrich is scheduled to deliver his “Drill here, drill now, pay less” petition to Congress today. According to his American Solutions website, more than 1.3 million people have signed the petition. But who’s funding the campaign that Gingrich is touting as a grassroots, bipartisan effort?

Turns out a large portion of the money behind his organization comes from Big Oil, according to a new report [PDF] from the Alaska Wilderness League. The group analyzed the donors to Gingrich’s group “American Solutions for Winning the Future,” the 527 that’s heading up a campaign to increase domestic drilling. Among the top donors, according to its report:

  • Donald M. Wilkinson, chair and CIO of Wilkinson O’Grady & Co., which invests in companies like National Oilwell Varco, Imperial Oil, Suncor Energy, EOG Resources, Schlumberger, Transocean, BHP Billiton, Apache Corporation, and XTO Energy. He donated $25,000.
  • Dan W. Evins, who worked for Shell before starting the Cracker Barrel chain of restaurants. He gave $100,000.
  • Dave K. Rensin, a software engineer for Pentagon contractor Reality Mobile, LLC. He gave $50,000.
  • Robert W. Johnson IV, who serves as chair of the Oil & Gas Committee Chair and the assistant chief attorney for the Exxon Mobil Production Company. He gave $50,000. [Ed. note: Apparently a different Robert W. Johnson -- the one that gave to American Solutions owns the New York Jets]

The list of big donors is rounded off with several dozen other folks who work in the oil and gas industries or related businesses, or consultants and investors who have put a good deal of cash toward those fields. There’s another $70,000 from Michael G. Berolzheimer, whose company makes those Duraflame logs by mixing saw dust with petroleum byproducts. There are also a good number of folks who work for big conservative organizations — like $200,000 from Heritage Foundation trustee Thomas A. Saunders III, and $914,622 from Freedom’s Watch founder Sheldon Adelson (who was profiled in today’s Wall Street Journal).

Gingrich himself is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, which has received at least $1.6 million from ExxonMobil since 1998. The AEI board of trustees includes for former ExxonMobil CEO Lee Raymond, who retired in 2005 with a $400 million compensation package.

This is the same Newt Gingrich who’s being used as a posterboy for climate action as part of the We Campaign.