Mark Tapscott has linked a post by Andrew Roth of the Club for Growth, that follows the money:

While doing some research on this new pig project, I noticed that CSX Corp has given contributions totalling $224,656 to federal candidate campaigns so far in the 2006 election cycle. And it has given a whopping $7.1 million since 1990.

More importantly, it has given $25,000 to Senator Lott’s campaign over the last 9 election cycles. Pay to play, Senator?

There’s a lot of dirt under this rock. More to come…

Hate to rain on the parade, but something doesn’t quite track here. CSX and its own insurance company paid something like $300 million over the last few months to restore a stretch of Gulf Coast-hugging railroad track that was damaged in Katrina. Did they do this, and make lavish campaign contributions, to persuade the federal government to tear up that same railroad and move it several miles to the north in Mississippi? Never mind that to relocate the rail line, CSX will have to go through regulatory hurdles, battle with local landowners for rights of way, deal with multiple local jurisdictions and so on–why would CSX want to replace what is a very direct route across Mississippi for a less direct one?

I don’t think it’s a stretch to assume that CSX, which, a spokesman told me, owns the land that Mississippi pols and local developers want to turn into a tony commercial promenade, is a savvy enough political player to ensure that doesn’t lose any money if its line is relocated north. But I’d be willing to bet that all things being equal, the company would rather keep running in the same rails. From the original AP Story:

The plan to tear up the track isn’t real popular with CSX either. They’re negotiating with state and federal officials, and the $700 million price tag was largely determined by the railroad.

“We rebuilt that line across the Gulf Coast as quickly as possible because it’s a critical artery for us,” said CSX spokesman Gary Sease. “It serves our purposes. It meets our customers’ needs. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.”

Doesn’t exactly sound like CSX is lobbying for relocation. So who benefits from CSX moving its line north, away from Mississippi’s beaches? Who wants to build the hotels and develop that promenade? Who wants to use taxpayer money to clear off CSX and leave them with a free hand to develop and profit from the new landscape? Follow the money, Andrew…