Pumped Full of Cash

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The oil industry is reporting record profits as consumers empty their wallets at the pump, so why is Senator John McCain (R-AZ) suddenly backing policies like offshore oil drilling that do nothing to help gas prices today (or the environment tomorrow), but stand to make Big Oil a handsome profit down the road? Public Campaign Action Fund's Campaign Money Watch project released a new report today that sheds some light on McCain's energy policy decisions, and what they have to do with the money from the oil industry that has filled his campaign coffers.

It's not just that McCain is pulling in four-figure checks from oil executives, or that he's been raising even more money from them since changing his position on offshore oil drilling. His campaign is filled with people who've taken handsome paychecks for lobbying on behalf of oil interests. Some high-profile examples:

 

    • John Green, McCain’s campaign liaison to Congress, has lobbied for Chevron, Hess, and the American Petroleum Institute, among others. This work, which took place between 2002 and 2008, earned Green and his firm $3,450,000. Employees and PACs of his clients have given McCain a total of $106,050 since 1989.

    • Wayne Berman, a leading McCain bundler, has lobbied for Chevron, Amerada Hess, and the American Petroleum Institute, among others. This work, which took place between 2004 and 2008, earned Berman and his firm $3,170,000. Employees and PACs of his clients have given McCain a total of $105,300 since 1989.

    • Steve Phillips, a leading McCain bundler, has lobbied for eight different oil and gas entities, including BP and Occidental Petroleum. This work, which took place between 2000 and 2007, earned Phillips and his firm $3,130,000. Employees and PACs of his clients have given McCain $40,950 since 1989.

    • Charlie Black, a senior McCain advisor, has lobbied for Occidental Petroleum and Yukos Oil. This work, which took place between 2001 and 2007, earned Black and his firm $1,725,000. Employees and PACs of his clients have given McCain $18,550 since 1989.

And that's only a small chunk of the list. Read the full report (in pdf) here.

The energy crisis we face requires serious debate, not rash policy reversals that put money in the pockets of the oil industry while ignoring both consequences to the environment and the need to invest more heavily in alternative energy sources. Yet another way special interest money warps policy debate at a critical time.