The Sunlight Foundation reports on the slick of BP money that’s already spread far and wide through the American political system. The oil and gas giant is a major campaign contributor, giving more than $6 million to federal candidates over the past 20 years.
President Obama has received the most — $77,051 — which might seem surprising at first blush. But presidential candidates receive a lot more than everybody else, and most major donors, including energy companies, spread their donations between Republicans and Democrats. So it’s not shocking that Obama’s among the very top recipients, although I would’ve expected McCain or Bush to have received more.
But more oil money goes to Congress as a whole than to presidential candidates. Sunlight, an advocate for government transparency, lists the 10 biggest recipients of BP cash who are currently serving in Congress:
- Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) — $73,300
- Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) — $44,899
- Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) — $41,400
- Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) — $31,000
- Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) — $28,200
- Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) — $27,350
- Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) — $22,300
- Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — $22,000
- Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) — $20,950
- Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) — $19,500
Few surprises here. Quick review: Inhofe is the Senate’s lead climate-change denier; Barton is his counterpart in the House; McConnell is the Senate GOP leader; McCain has abandoned his former interest in climate legislation; Young is the sole rep from an oil-intensive state; Dingell is a chief protector of the Detroit auto industry, and Landrieu hearts the Gulf oil and gas industries.
Point being, if you want to fault Obama for taking Big Oil money, go for it. If you think it may have influenced his decision to expand offshore drilling, fine. But he wants to sign a decent clean-energy bill, according to everything we’ve seen him do and heard him say.
The Senate is where the bill is stalled out. That’s where oil money is doing the most damage.