Coming this fall: Direct campaign cash from the American Petroleum Institute

  • Published on February 25th, 2011

US Capital BuildingWhen it ruled in the Citizens United case, the Supreme Court said it was unlikely that allowing a tsunami of corporate cash to inundate the electoral system would be a problem. Corruption? What Corruption?

Surprisingly, while the Chamber of Commerce spent millions electing right-wing politicians who are now busily pushing the Chamber’s agenda across the nation (like cutting subsidies for the cleantech competitors of Chamber members, and smashing unions), not everyone dove right in.

One hold-back was the American Petroleum Institute, lobbying arm of the oil industry. They took a wait-and-see attitude, perhaps concerned there would be a backlash.

No backlash. The mainstream media might have objected loudly at the idea of Democracy for the highest bidder… but didn’t.

So the API has announced it will be jumping into the fray next year, making direct expenditures to elect politicians who support its agenda. And as Joanne Zelman writes at the Huffington Post, we won’t see a lot of that cash flowing to Democrats:

Most of these candidates are expected to be Republican, as oil-supported action committees tend to support the Republican party. Last year, the Independent Petroleum Association of America gave 77 percent of their contributions to the Republican party. Bloomberg reports that during the 2010 election, oil and gas companies were the 15th largest source of political contributions. Koch Industries Inc. was the largest contributor in the industry, and gave over 90 percent of their money to Republicans.

What issues might be influenced?

  • Subsidies for big oil, of course – Obama wants to cut ’em, saying oil is profitable enough. Oil companies and their pet politicians say cutting the subsidies would kill jobs.
  • Subsidies for clean energy – Obama wants more to grow us into the future. Oil companies and their pet politicians say the government shouldn’t subsidize THOSE jobs. Just THEIR jobs.
  • Environmental regulation – Republicans in Congress want to slash the EPA’s ability to regulate everything from mercury to CO2 (“job-killers” again).

What’s the downside for the API? Probably none. They don’t seem to care about negative publicity.

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About the Author

Jeremy Bloom is the Editor of RedGreenAndBlue. He lives in New York, where he combines his passion for the environment with his passion for film, and is working on making the world a better place.