President Barack Obama is the biggest recipient of BP political action committee donations of any political candidate in the last 20 years, according to the Center for Responsive Politics and an analysis published Wednesday by Politico.
Obama’s take from the company whose drilling site is leaking tens of thousands of gallons of day into the Gulf of Mexico: $77,051. To view a list of all of BP’s donations in the 2008 election cycle, click here.
BP Human Resources chief Dawn Bobbit gave Obama $4,600 in the last election cycle. BP America Health and Safety Advisor Alfred Apodaca contributed $500.
To be fair, the energy and natural resource sector wasn’t even among Obama’s top 20 contributors by industry for his 2008 presidential run. If anything, Obama appears to have favored nuclear power (his home state of Illinois is among the country’s largest users of nuclear energy, and two of his top advisers used to work for the nuclear energy giant Exelon).
But his massive take from the company responsible for an ever-growing oil spill off the Louisiana coast is sure to raise eyebrows among those who question the Administration’s response to the spill.
Speaking this weekend in Venice, Louisiana, Obama said, “BP is responsible for this leak. BP will be paying the bill.”
Under federal law, the oil behemoth is responsible for paying to clean up the spill.
“BP and its employees have given more than $3.5 million to federal candidates over the past 20 years, with the largest chunk of their money going to Obama, according to the Center for Responsive Politics,” Politico’s Erika Lovley reported Wednesday. “Donations come from a mix of employees and the companyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s political action committees Ã¢â‚¬â€ $2.89 million flowed to campaigns from BP-related PACs and about $638,000 came from individuals.”
OpenSecrets.org, maintained by the Center, classifies BP as a “heavy hitter” — or super-major contributor to federal election campaigns.
“The company has been extending into alternative energy technologies, primarily solar, but BP knows what fuels profits,” the Center notes. “Its lobbying focuses on tax incentives for oil and gas production, opposing mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions and following U.S. trade relations and policy in the Middle East.
“Through membership in a trade association known as the Organization for International Investment, BP has lobbied to gain exemptions from U.S. corporate law reforms,” they add. “The corporation has withdrawn from a coalition advocating for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but BP continues to seek access to the area.”
Top recipients in the 2010 Senate election cycle include: Sen. Jack Conway, who received $9,600, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who garnered $7,000 and Sen. Blanche Lincoln, who took in $4,000 of the oil company’s money.
Also receiving hefty donations from the oil giant is Lousiana’s Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu, who has taken in $28,000 throughout her career, according to Politico.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post reported Wednesday that the federal government’s Minerals Management Services exempted BP’s drilling rig from an environmental impact investigation last year.
“The Interior Department exempted BP’s calamitous Gulf of Mexico drilling operation from a detailed environmental impact analysis last year, according to government documents, after three reviews of the area concluded that a massive oil spill was unlikely,” the Post’s Juliet Eilperin wrote.
“The decision by the department’s Minerals Management Service (MMS) to give BP’s lease at Deepwater Horizon a ‘categorical exclusion’ from the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) on April 6, 2009 — and BP’s lobbying efforts just 11 days before the explosion to expand those exemptions — show that neither federal regulators nor the company anticipated an accident of the scale of the one unfolding in the gulf,” Eilperin added.