- The San Bernardino Sun reports that two more cities have been subpoenaed in the federal investigation of Appropriations Chairman [sw: Jerry Lewis] (R-CA) and his ties to the lobbying firm Copeland Lowery Jacquez Denton & White. The subpoenas issued to the two cities, Loma Linda and Twentynine Palms, push the total number of subpoenas issued so far to six in the investigation of Lewis' earmark practices.
- David Safavian, aside from testifying that he is a doofus, also stated that he provided "a lot of insight and advice" to Jack Abramoff, according to the New York Times.
- House Democrats are holding a steering committee meeting today that many expect to center on Rep. [sw: William Jefferson]'s (D-LA) seat on the Ways and Means Committee. Jefferson, facing an imminent indictment for his role in a number of crooked deals, was asked to step down by Minority Leader [sw: Nancy Pelosi] (D-CA) but refused. Pelosi is expected to ask the Democratic Caucus to remove Jefferson from his committee seat and possibly replace him with another member of the Congressional Black Caucus.
- According to The Hill, [sw: Tom DeLay] (R-TX) will be leaving Congress this Friday and it looks like he'll be slipping out the back door and not leaving with the bluster and pomp that he was known for during his tenure as one of the most powerful men on Capitol Hill.
- The Hill reports that the oil and gas industry is ramping up the fear rhetoric after the House voted to force oil companies to renegotiate their oil leases signed in 1998 and 1999. The industry is declaring that if this law passes the Senate than it would increase foreign investment in the Gulf of Mexico. After the vote in the House I did a quick run-down on oil-and-gas contributions to the Republicans who voted "Yea" and found that they took a significantly less from the industry than the average Republican. My colleague Larry Makinson did a more extensive review of career numbers and found the same pattern.
- And for some lighter news: "A struggling art galley is hoping a showing and possible sale of a pair of paintings by imprisoned ex-U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. will keep it open."
Kudos to my colleague, Paul Blumenthal, who writes the terrific In Broad Daylight blog for us, for doing the analysis to answer the question I raised this morning regarding whether the Republican lawmakers who voted against oil and gas company interests yesterday got less money from those interests than their Republican counterparts who stayed loyal to their cash constitutents. The answer: Yup, they sure did! Check out his analysis of the money from this election cycle. We're going to dig a little deeper now and see what else we find out.Continue reading
Earlier this morning at Sunspots Ellen asked whether the Republicans who voted to take back tax incentives from oil and gas companies received less money from the oil and gas interests than those voting yes. As she noted the average intake of oil and gas money by a Republican in the 2006 election cycle is $11,645 versus $4,331 for a Democrat. So, is Ellen's hunch right? Did these 66 Republicans receive less money on average than their party mates who voted against the tax incentive repeal? The answer is yes. The average amount received from the oil and gas industry by these Republicans is $5,727, almost exactly half of what an average Republican received. Looking at the members who voted it is obvious why many of them did. The majority of these lawmakers come from eastern, midwest, and northeastern states with high traffic volume and high gas prices. Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, Illinois, and Michigan stand out. Both Republican House members from New Hampshire voted for the incentive repeal as did the two Republicans from Maryland and all of the Republicans from Connecticut. Florida led the southern states with the most members voting for the repeal at seven. This most likely reflects anger at the oil and gas industry for trying to open up the waters off of Florida's coast to new drilling. There are a couple of lawmakers voting for repeal that are completely unexpected. The one jumps off the page at you is House Resources Chairman Richard Pombo (R-CA), known as a scourge to environmentalists and the best friend of oil and gas companies. Pombo topped all of the "Yea" Republicans with $66,200, which made him ninth overall (House and Senate) in oil and gas contributions. Why would Pombo backtrack all of a sudden? Perhaps it's California's sky high gas prices and the fact that his district is filled with commuters. But politics may be the best explanation. Pombo is facing his first serious challenge in both the Republican primary, from Endangered Species Act author Pete McCloskey, and in the general as Democrats have decided to target the Central Valley congressman. Taking a look at the list of Republicans voting here one can see that a number of them are expected to face grueling campaigns this year. CQ Politics lists 21 of these 66 Republicans as out of the "Safe Republican" category. I think that the mix of these factors - a tough political climate, a lack of pressure form large campaign contributors, and pressure from constituents - leads these Republicans to buck their leadership and vote against a well known ally.Continue reading
There's a story in the New York Times that yesterday the House voted to take back some of the billions of dollars in incentives it had given to oil and gas producers, with lots of Republicans voting against oil company interests. Sounds like a man bites dog story, but is it?Continue reading
- Sen. Mel Martinez may not like this Miami Herald article that shows how $250,000 in campaign contributions is connected to the felonious lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
- Former White House procurement officer and Abramoff e-mail buddy David Safavian "was dealt a series of setbacks by a federal judge Wednesday," according to Roll Call. The judge ruled that jurors can hear allegations that Safavian gave Abramoff "confidential government information about one of his clients" and "that jurors can be told the full cost of a controversial Scotland golf junket that Safavian took part in during August 2002." Can they also be told the purpose of that trip: Golf Golf Golf Golf!!!!! (more from TalkLeft)
- This anti-Al Gore movie ad is the perfect example of how big business operates through front groups. This one just seems completely over the top, beyond the realms of reason. I mean this ad is hanging in the outer regions of the universe. Seriously how many people in the world are pro-emissions? I love Josh Marshall's vision of the pro-emissions crowd: "I have this image in my mind of connoisseurs with their noses by a muffler. Nice bouquet? Mmmmm. Bahrain 1974." An e-mailer to Josh provides his take: "With their new ad anti-global warming ads, I think we can safely call May 18, 2006 the day the oil companies lost it completely."
Last month I wrote a post about the oil and gas industry's massive lobbying expenditures. Here's a look at that again: * ChevronTexaco $8,550,000 * ExxonMobil $7,140,000 * ConocoPhillips $5,098,084 * Marathon $4,290,000 * BP $2,880,000 * Occidental $2,042,177 * Shell $1,478,831 * Ashland $904,000 * Sunoco $540,000 * Anadarko $250,000 That's for a total of $33,173,092. Think Progress picks up a Wall Street Journal story to illustrate what you get for $33 million.
Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and ConocoPhillips beat back an attempt by senators to raise their taxes by nearly $6 billion. The Senate version of the bill at one point included a provision that would have cost the five largest oil companies — companies with average daily production of 500,000 barrels; gross receipts of more than $1 billion dollars in 2005 and an ownership in a refinery of 15% or more — about $5 billion by changing how they account for oil inventory. House Republicans dropped the provision from the final version of the bill. A separate Senate measure would have stripped $700 million in tax incentives for large oil companies to explore for oil and gas. That provision, too, was dropped from the compromise bill that emerged from House-Senate negotiations.The return on investment in lobbying is unbelievable when you look at it. The oil and gas companies spent $33 million and in return they saved $6 billion. Even once you add in campaign contributions - $25,622,789 from 2004, the last full election season - the amount that they put in to system gives them a monumental reward. Something like a 10,000% return on investment. Continue reading
Ken Silverstein at Harpers.org provides a look back at a career that looks to be coming to a premature close, that of Rep. William Jefferson's (D-LA) job as a water carrier for Chevron. Here is one example of the "Congressman from Chevron's" many actions:
In the mid-1990s, Chevron and several other oil companies led a successful campaign to block tough sanctions on the regime of Nigerian general Sani Abacha, who had a habit of stringing up his political enemies, and who also plundered the Nigerian treasury to the tune of about $1 billion a year during his five-year rule. The oil companies helped to produce a lobbying brochure that lauded the special quality of Nigerian crude and said that "any disruption to this supply of imported petroleum will severely impact the American economy.” Jefferson was one of only two members of the Congressional Black Caucus who opposed sanctions on the Abacha dictatorship.According to Opensecrets.org Jefferson's third largest contributor for his career is the lobby shop representing ChevronTexaco Jones, Walker. They have given Jefferson $47,379 since 1993. Continue reading
I was asked in the comments of a couple of posts regarding the oil and gas industry to provide names of those who received money from the industry. There is a place where you can go to find out that information rather easily: www.opensecrets.org. Here is their list of top recipients of oil and gas industry money for the current 2006 election cycle:
- Hutchison, Kay Bailey (R-TX) $140,911
- DeLay, Tom (R-TX) $112,490
- Santorum, Rick (R-PA) $110,050
- Barton, Joe (R-TX) $109,450
- Burns, Conrad (R-MT) $101,575
- Allen, George (R-VA) $92,500
- Hastert, Dennis (R-IL) $92,000
- Cornyn, John (R-TX) $86,000
- Pombo, Richard (R-CA) $66,200
- Bode, Denise (R-OK) $63,700 (not currently in the House)
- Talent, James (R-MO) $63,150
- Sullivan, John (R-OK) $62,500
- Kyl, Jon (R-AZ) $60,850
- Cole, Tom (R-OK) $52,796
- Sessions, Pete (R-TX) $50,300
- Thomas, Craig (R-WY) $49,000
- Inhofe, James (R-OK) $48,200
- Pearce, Steve (R-NM) $44,700
- Tiahrt, Todd (R-KS) $43,650
- Thomas, Bill (R-CA) $41,500
As you can see there is quite a trend here. So far this election cycle 84% of all oil and gas contributions have gone to Republicans. To be fair the Democrat who has received the most oil and gas money during the current cycle is Rep. Dan Boren (D-OK) with $40,700.
If you want to learn more about Open Secrets and how to use it my colleague Larry Makinson has made a couple of online tutorials that show the viewer how to search for information on this great research resource.Continue reading
So you want your gas prices to go down? You're going to need a lot of money to counter the oil companies lobbying heft. Political Money Line shows us how much the oil companies spent in lobbying expenses last year:
The final total for the entire industry reaches $33,173,092.
In the face of outraged constituents stung deeply by the ever-rising cost of gassing up the family sedan, SUV or pickup truck, members of Congress are scrambling to look at rollbacks to recent tax breaks for the oil industry. The one-two punch of sky high gas prices and record-breaking oil industry profits looks to be one of this year’s biggest political hot potatoes in every congressional district in the land.
The job of trimming back the oil companies is likely to be a more painful one for Republicans, however, since the oil industry has historically given a lopsided majority of its campaign funds to GOP members.Continue reading