Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Who's trying to buy the swing votes in Congress on global warming?

We’ve been impressed by several stories in recent days regarding campaign contributions and global warning, including a front-page piece yesterday in USA Today and an excellent story in this morning’s Environment and Energy Daily.

So we were inspired to take our own peek at the filings that political action committees must make with the Federal Election Commission. These are campaign contributions made during the first three months of this year.

We have noted some highlights below.

As you may know, key votes could happen as soon as next week in the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee chaired by Congressman Ed Markey of Massachusetts.

No, I don’t think you can actually buy a member of Congress for several thousand dollars. But you sure can rent one. And there are a lot of rental deposits being put down.

First of all, the context: As noted above, the Markey subcommittee may begin taking votes on the big global warming (cap and trade) bill as soon as next week. Markey and Congressman Henry Waxman of California, the full committee chairman, introduced a very thoughtful draft as a starting point for the action.

But corporate opponents of tough action are working behind the scenes to weaken the Waxman-Markey plan.

Most if not all of the subcommittee’s Republicans are irresponsibly going to oppose the measure. But trouble is also looming from some subcommittee Democrats. Last week, Democratic Congressmen Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania and Rick Boucher of Virginia offered “recommended changes” that incorporate the wish list of groups such as Duke Energy that seek to water down the Waxman-Markey draft. And now the various members of this panel and their aides are off in back rooms trying to negotiate deals. We believe that campaign contributions are an integral part of the ongoing dynamic.

What did we examine? We wanted to look at some of the “swing” Democratic members of the Markey panel who will likely be the key votes – and thus the key targets for businesses seeking to influence the outcome.

Greenwire has identified 11 such Democratic “fence sitters” and noted that – assuming uniform Republican opposition – that Waxman and Markey must win over 8 of these 11 Democrats. These Democrats are Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania, G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina, Charlie Melancon of Louisiana, Baron Hill of Indiana, John Dingell of Michigan, Rick Boucher of Virginia, Gene Green of Texas, Charlie Gonzalez of Texas, Mike Ross of Arkansas, Jim Matheson of Utah, and John Barrow of Georgia.

We thought it might provide some insight to see who’s been giving these lawmakers money as they prepare to cast critical votes which may determine if this Congress is actually serious about taking on global warming.

We’ve tried to note a few interesting factoids below – for example, the pervasive influence of big coal-burning electric power companies such as Duke Energy, American Electric Power, Southern Company, as well as lobbies such as the Edison Electric Institute and the often overlooked but politically active National Rural Electric Cooperative. There is some big oil money flowing as well and money from coal-hauling railroads.

It’s no surprise why they these companies shelling out. Investments of several thousands of dollars could literally bring them billions of dollars in the form of free carbon permits or allocations. These aren’t like contributions to the March of Dimes.

So here are some tidbits. Please note these are only 2009 PAC contributions through the end of March and do not include contributions made this month or possible additional contributions from individuals and lobbyists (assuming they are of a different species entirely.) That, of course, is an area perhaps worthy of further investigation.

Doyle: contributors include Edison Electric Institute.

Butterfield: contributors include Duke Energy and National Rural Electric Cooperative

Melancon: contributors include American Electric Power and National Rural Electric Cooperative

Hill: contributors include Duke, American Electric Power, Southern Co. and National Rural Electric Cooperative

Dingell: contributors include Duke, American Electric Power, Southern Co., Arch Coal, Edison Electric Institute, Progress Energy, Xcel, National Rural Electric.

Boucher: contributors include Duke, AEP, EEI, Arch Coal, Progress Energy, Xcel, Allegheny Energy, Ameren and National Rural Electric.

Green: contributors include Exxon Mobil, Valero, Union Pacific, Wyoming Refining, Koch Industries and National Petrochemical and Refiners.

Gonzalez: contributors include EEI, AEP, DTE, ExxonMobil, Union Pacific, Koch, Valero, Xcel, Wyoming Refining and National Petrochemical and Refiners.

Ross: contributors include Entergy, National Rural Electric and American Trucking Associations.

Matheson: contributors include Duke, ExxonMobil, Arch Coal, National Rural Electric, and Tesoro Petroleum.

Barrow: contributors include Duke, EEI, ExxonMobil, Georgia Power (Southern Co. subsidiary), DTE and Chevron.


Sadie Budd said...

Why, oh why, are these people in Congress so darned crooked?

They always seem nice when we see them!

Blanche Cottom said...

Don't you remember that family you used to work for?

They said they owned a congressman along with a boxer and a racehorse.

And the congressman came cheaper!

Glen Lane said...


Les Junk said...

Does this have something to do with Arlen Specter? Something happening there.