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House Subsidies Supporters Receive Over $1.2 Million from Big Oil in First Six Months of 2011

Members of Congress Voted to Protect Taxpayer Handouts & Accepted Campaign Cash During Six Months

WASHINGTON – Some of Big Oil’s most loyal defenders raked in plenty of campaign cash from the nation’s most profitable oil companies even while they voted to protect taxpayer handouts to those same companies. U.S. House members who supported these unnecessary handouts received a total of $1.2 million from the political action committees (PACs) of the top U.S. oil companies in the first six months of 2011, according to Public Campaign Action Fund analysis of data from the Federal Election Commission (FEC). Additionally, a whopping 94% of House oil PAC money recipients in the first 6 months of 2011 voted to keep these wasteful subsidies.

“This is why congressional approval ratings are in the toilet. People don’t believe that a member of Congress is on their side when he or she takes big money from oil companies, and then approves billions in taxpayer handouts. No wonder Americans are outraged,” said Navin Nayak, Senior Vice President of Campaigns at the League of Conservation Voters.

"Members of Congress vote to keep wasteful oil subsidies and get rewarded handsomely by the companies they protect — it’s an all-too familiar example of our broken political system," said David Donnelly, national campaigns director for Public Campaign Action Fund. "If this happened in any other profession we’d call it a bribe or a payoff."

Key facts:

  • 95% of the total cash provided by these PACs to House members or their leadership PACs went to those who voted to keep the oil subsidies—roughly $1.2 million compared to $45,000 to those who voted to end the subsidies and $19,000 to the two members that did not vote.
  • Of the 170 House members who received oil PAC money in the first half of the year, 94% (or 159 members) sided with the oil companies.
  • The top three members of the House Republican caucus received nearly $100,000 in big oil cash in the first half of the year. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) received $35,000, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) took in $32,500, and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) received $29,000. No member of House Democratic leadership has received oil PAC money in 2011.
  • In the Senate, 90% of campaign contributions went to oil subsidies supporters--$209,000 compared to $22,000. Of the 30 Senate recipients of oil industry PAC money, 26 voted to keep the subsidies.

The vote included in this analysis is Roll Call # 313 in the House [5/11/11] and Roll Call #72 in the Senate [5/17/11]. Companies’ PACs included in the analysis are BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Koch Industries. So far this year, Shell Oil has not made any PAC donations to members of Congress.

Public Campaign Action Fund also cautioned that PAC contributions only begin to tell the story about the influence of an industry. A further review of contributions from executives from oil companies to Members of Congress would deepen the analysis.

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