LOBBYING: Industry dollars go to a handful of influential Energy and Commerce members
As always, Congress is driven by the Golden Rule — whoever gives the gold, makes the rules:
Electric utilities, oil and gas corporations, coal producers and other energy industry interests poured more than $375,000 into the coffers of House Energy and Commerce Committee members during the first three months of 2009, according to an E&E examination of campaign finance records.
The dollars flowing to Energy and Commerce members — particularly Democratic moderates — further highlights the high stakes for the industry as lawmakers prepare to mark up a Democratic climate change and energy legislation next month.
At the top of the list for Democrats was former committee Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.), who pulled in about $47,000 from the energy industry. Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) — another moderate Democrat and former chairman of the subcommittee with jurisdiction over climate issues — came in at a close second with more than $41,000.
Other major Democratic recipients of industry cash were much further down the list in terms of committee seniority but also represent swing votes on energy and climate legislation. Rep. Charlie Gonzalez (D-Texas) picked up $30,000, Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.) received about $22,000, and Rep. Zach Space (D-Ohio) received $27,000.
Space, a two-term lawmaker from a district that is a major hub for the coal industry, was among one the more prodigious fundraisers among all House Democrats, pulling more than $420,000 in the first three months of 2009. Space’s district leans Republican, and he is virtually certain to have a tough re-election fight next year.
Industry officials say financial contributions to lawmakers typically are a reflection of providing backing for members who understand and traditionally support their position on any number of legislative issues and say there is little relation between campaign donations and lawmakers’ position on any singular issue.
Still, those donations are also a slice of what has become an all-out lobbying blitz on both sides — involving contributions, direct lobbying and public relations campaigns — in advance of legislation that will likely have dramatic ramifications for the energy industry.
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