The oil and gas industry has contributed more than $7.5 million to members of the 111th Congress thus far in the 2010 election cycle. That makes the industry the 15th most generous out of 80 tracked by the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan research group which compiles campaign finance data. The confluence of the impending November elections and the oil spill crisis in the Gulf of Mexico have brought the influence of oil and gas campaign contributions into the spotlight. The industry's $7,504,019 in contributions to members of the 111th Congress puts it behind such big industries as lawyers and law firms (No. 1), securities and investment (No. 4), and pharmaceuticals and health products (No. 9). (Corporations and labor unions are legally barred from contributing to federal candidates, so these figures reflect contributions from industry employees, their families, and political action committees.) [See who gets the most from the oil and gas industry.]
Arkansas Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln tops the list of recipients of oil money for this election cycle with $286,400, followed by Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter, with $242,600. Oklahoma Democrat Dan Boren leads House members, with $139,700 in contributions from the oil and gas industry. Here are the top 10 recipients of oil money:
Congressperson Party Chamber State Amount. Received from Oil and Gas Industry
|Congressperson||Party||Chamber||State||Amount Received From Oil and Gas Industry|
Many factors can influence why a politician receives money from an industry, says Center spokesman Dave Levinthal. Seniority, committee memberships, and the oil and gas industry's economic prominence in a particular state can all play major roles in drawing campaign funds from the industry. "Many of the people on this list have a confluence of two or three of those factors going in their favor, which means that they have a pretty good chance of raising six-figure sums from the oil and gas industry," says Levinthal. [See a slide show of the oil industry's favorite lawmakers.]
Of the top 10 congressional recipients of oil and gas contributions, seven are members of committees that deal with the environment, energy, or natural resources—issues that most affect the oil and gas industry. For example, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski is the ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which Lincoln and Republican Sen. Robert Bennett also belong. Likewise, Roy Blunt is on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Boren is a member of the House Committee on Natural Resources. Vitter and Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter both serve on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.