McCain’s Membership In The Petroleum Club

mccainTonight Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is flying into Denver to scrounge up cash at a $25,000 apiece “roundtable” followed by a $1000-a-head ($2300 with a “Photo Opportunity”) fundraiser at the Denver Petroleum Club. McCain’s choice of venue is singularly appropriate, as his campaign is being funded and run by Big Oil lobbyists. As global warming, skyrocketing oil prices, and a failing economy create an interlinked energy crisis, McCain has repeatedly failed to put the people’s interests before those of the fossil-energy industry.

Since launching his campaign for president, Sen. McCain has talked tough about Big Oil but has been funded by their petro-dollars. In a 2007 Iowa speech, McCain described his “energy strategy” for America, with “straight talk” about “petro-dictators,” big oil subsidies, and energy lobbyists:

As President, I’ll propose a national energy strategy that will amount to a declaration of independence from the risk bred by our reliance on petro-dictators and our vulnerability to the troubled politics of the lands they rule. That strategy won’t be another grab bag of handouts to this or that industry and a full employment act for lobbyists. Yes, that means no ethanol subsidies. But it also means no rifle-shot tax breaks for big oil.

But is candidate McCain himself reliant on Big Oil? Since first running for the Senate in 1986, John McCain has received at least $549,712 from the oil and gas industry. More than half — $291,685 — has come in the last two years. Moreover, John McCain’s own campaign is a “full employment act for lobbyists” who rely on “petro-dictators.”

McCain’s Senior Adviser Lobbies For Foreign Oil Interests. Charlie Black (lobbying firm: BKSH), McCain’s senior campaign adviser, is a registered lobbyist for two Russian oil companies — Yukos Oil and Occidental International Corporation — and his lobbying firm was hired in 2005 by the China National Off-Shore Oil Corporation. [Roll Call 7/18/05, Senate Lobbying Disclosure Records]

McCain’s “Consigliere” a Top Lobbyist for Saudi Arabia. Former Texas representative Tom Loeffler (The Loeffler Group), a top Bush fundraiser now in charge of McCain’s fundraising efforts, received approximately $900,000 a year from the Saudis to lobby Congress and “arrange meetings between Saudi officials and such senior Bush administration officials as Karl Rove.” [DNC 4/23/07]

McCain’s Campaign Liaison to Congress a Million-Dollar Big-Oil Lobbyist. John Green (Ogilvy Government Relations) — the “full-time liaison between McCain’s presidential campaign and Republicans in the House and the Senate” — has made over $7.6 million dollars since 1999 lobbying for petro-industry giants such as Amerada-Hess, Chevron Texaco, the American Petroleum Institute, Reliant Energy, PJM Interconnection and First Energy. [Politico 3/4/08, Senate Lobbying Disclosure Records]

Fossil Fuel Lobbyists Everywhere in the McCain Campaign. Susan Nelson, McCain’s National Finance Chair worked at the Loeffler Group for Saudi Arabia. Frank Donatelli, McCain’s RNC liaison to the Republican Party, has lobbied for ExxonMobil, Dominion, and Eastman Chemical. Jerry Kilgore, co-chairman of McCain’s Virginia campaign, has lobbied for Shell Oil and coal company Alpha Natural Resources. [Washington Post 3/12/08, O’Dwyer’s 8/9/06, Media Matters 2/26/08, Senate Lobbying Disclosure Records]

Although Candidate McCain may have made a “declaration of independence” on the campaign trail, Senator McCain’s own actions have kept “rifle-shot tax breaks for big oil” and “reliance on petro-dictators” as the law of the land.

McCain Voted Against Reducing Dependence on Foreign Oil. In 2005, McCain voted against legislation calling on the President to submit a plan to reduce foreign petroleum imports by 40 percent. [Senate Roll Call Vote #140, 6/16/05; DNC 6/22/07]

Candidate McCain’s “Zero” For Energy Future, Billions For Big Oil. Since launching his campaign for president in 2007, Sen. McCain has skipped out on every key environmental vote the Senate has considered, earning him a zero on the League of Conservation Voters scorecard this session. In one such instance, his absence killed the rollback of billions of dollars in oil subsidies for renewable energy investment. [LCV 2008]

McCain’s Absence Allows GOP to Filibuster Oil-For-Renewables. By a roll call vote of 59-40 on December 13, 2007, Senate Democrats failed to muster the 60 votes needed to prevent a filibuster threatened by Republicans of compromise energy legislation with an oil-for-renewable tax package. The tax package rolled back $12.7 billion in tax breaks on the oil and gas industry to invest in renewable energy tax credits. Sen. John McCain, on the campaign trail, was the one senator not voting. [CQ 12/12/07] [Vote #425 12/13/07]

Having failed to act to roll back subsidies for Big Oil as a senator, McCain now has unveiled a tax plan which would provide an even greater “grab bag of handouts” to industry. As Wendy Norris at Colorado Confidential asks, “[W]ould a McCain presidency simply reprise the oil-and-gas-friendly Bush Administration for another four years?”

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