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May 18, 2011

Big Oil Greases the Senate

By crewstaff

Oil derrickThe Senate last night rejected a bill that would eliminate tax breaks benefitting the country’s five largest oil companies.  Two Republicans actually voted for the bill, but their votes were cancelled out by three Democrats who voted against it.  In fact, a majority of senators actually voted for the bill, but thanks to the quirky rules of our broken Senate, 60 votes were required.  So why did it fail? It certainly doesn’t hurt that the five companies involved – BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil and Shell Oil – are big campaign contributors with robust lobbying rosters.

According to the nonpartisan research organization Maplight, since 2001 roughly 84 percent of campaign contributions by the five companies’ PACs and their employees have gone to Republicans.  CREW’s review of Maplight’s data shows the partisan slant to the giving was even more pronounced during the just-completed 2010 election cycle, especially in the Senate.  The five companies’ PACs and their employees donated almost $700,000 to senators, and of that, almost 90 percent of it went to Republicans.   The biggest three beneficiaries: Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) all of whom voted against the bill.  Top Democratic recipient Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK), also voted against it, calling the bill a “gimmick.”

The bill may have failed, but it did one thing well: highlighted the relationship between money and votes in the Senate.

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