Connections In Congress May Aid BP Lobby Effort

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The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is quickly becoming a serious ecological disaster. At the same time, the event has become a political hot potato as the various parties involved attempt to protect themselves from blame. British Petroleum (BP), the owners of the oil lease site where the sunken rig was drilling, is gearing up their lobbying team to present their case to congressional investigators. Thanks to their long-established connections, they may find some in Congress who are willing to listen.

The Center for Responsive Politics ranks BP as one of the top donors to political campaigns over the twenty years having given in excess of $6 million to congressional and presidential campaigns. The ten biggest recipients of BP contributions still in Congress are Rep. Don Young ($73,300), Sen. John McCain ($44,899), Sen. George Voinovich ($41,400), Rep. John Dingell ($31,000), Sen. Mary Landrieu ($28,200), Rep. Joe Barton ($27,350), Sen. Jim Inhofe ($22,300), Sen. Mitch McConnell ($22,000), Rep. John Culberson ($20,950) and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison ($19,500).

BP has focused a good portion of their campaign contributions on the House Committee on Energy & Commerce. The committee is scheduled to begin hearings on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on Wednesday. Since 1989, BP has contributed a total of $195,550 to the current 51 members of the committee. Rep. Barton is the ranking member of the committee. Rep. Dingell is chairman emeritus and was recently deposed as chairman by Rep. Henry Waxman. Other top recipients include Rep. Ralph Hall ($14,500), Rep. Fred Upton ($13,100) and Rep. Roy Blunt ($12,500).

While BP made investments in Congress with their wide reach of contributions, some lawmakers made investments in BP. At least 17 lawmakers reported holding stock in BP in their most recent personal financial disclosure filings. Rep. James Sensenbrenner holds the largest amount of stock in BP with a value between $100,001 and $250,000. One member of the Energy & Commerce Committee, Rep. Upton, also holds stock in BP valued between $16,002 and $65,000.

The lobbying team assembled by BP also provides the company with reach into both Congress and executive branch. Twenty-five of the thirty-seven lobbyists listed in 2010 first quarter lobbying disclosures as being hired by BP have previous government experience. This includes two former top aides to Sen. Landrieu, a former aide to the Energy & Commerce Committee, former congressman Jim Turner and 15 others with congressional experience.

The former Energy & Commerce Committee staffer, Courtney Johnson, was listed as the host for two fundraisers over last year, according to the Party Time database. One was for Rep. Dingell, the former Energy & Commerce chairman. The other was for the political action committee of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a lawmaker close to Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Prolific Democratic fundraiser Tony Podesta is listed as a lobbyist for BP. Podesta is listed as hosting eighteen fundraisers since the beginning of the 111th Congress.

Other congressman who have had held fundraisers hosted by lobbyists hired by BP since the beginning of 2009 include Rep. Walt Minnick, Sen. Jim Inhofe, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (twice), Rep. Barbara Lee, Sen. John Thune, Rep. Kay Granger, Sen. Richard Burr, Rep. Glenn Nye (twice) and Rep. Dennis Moore.

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  • “Let us Nationalize the BP Oil Site”, The States that have damages and hook it to the Pipeline which is One-Fourth of a mile away, S Run by the Statesend the oil to the refinery and give the money to the States that have proven damages. FOREVER or Until the well runs dry. With no taxes, it would help to supply the states with added Capital for restor-rations. Just for the BEACHES…… No Obama Stash………

  • Tim Walker

    What is the difference between a polititian in South America taking money for his vote and an American taking money from a lobbyist? One is illegal and one is legal. We have come a long way baby….

  • THIS IS WHY WE NEED TERM LIMITS ON OUR SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVES. NEXT TIME WE GO TO THE POLLS OR ELECTION POLLS TO BE MORE EXACT, LET’S VOTE FOR THE NEW GUY IF THEY ARE ONLY IN THERE FOR SAY 2 OR 3 TERMS THEY CAN ONLY BE BROUGHT OFF SO MUCH! GOVERNORS HAVE TERM LIMITS, OUR PRESIDENTS HAVE TERM LIMITS, SO OUR REPRESENTATIVES AND SENATORS SHOULD ALSO! DEMOCRATIC SENATOR TED KENNEDY WAS AN EXCELLENT SENATOR, BUT 40 PLUS YEARS IS TOO LONG AND I AM SURE THERE ARE SOME REPUBLICIAN SENATORS THAT ARE RIGHT UP THERE ALSO.

    TERM LIMITS
    TERM LIMITS
    TERM LIMITS!

  • Stop electing lawyers; maybe we can get back to basics and what the constitution was meant to be.

  • stevied

    When there’s 6 lobbiests for every member of Congress shoving money in their hands , how would you expect there to be honesty in politics ???? They are all just pigs at the troft . Federal Judges , Congressmen , Senators , are all tied to the almighty dollar . You only get as much justice or healthcare as you can afford , and pity the poor man . I don’t think the founding fathers expected the country would go so awry with their intentions .

  • Francine Last

    This is an outrage and a demonstration of the plutocracy of America. How is it possible that a multinational organisation has the power to influence and buy American politicians. The whole western world has got caught up in total corruption. This has got to stop. The money keeps buying the propaganda.

  • Kelly

    How can we expect BP to be held accountable, they’ve paid off everyone! ugh! How would anyone know of this if it not for the Sunlight Foundation?