Pivoting off Rep. Joe Barton’s (R-TX) apology to BP CEO Tony Hayward for what he called a “shakedown” from the White House, the Washington Post noted yesterday that “the episode showed the uncomfortable spot in which some Republicans find themselves”:
[S]ome Republicans are having trouble bringing themselves to say anything bad about an industry that has been so good to them. It was notable that in their statement distancing themselves from Barton, House Republican leaders John A. Boehner (Ohio), Eric Cantor (Va.) and Mike Pence (Ind.) referred to the spill — caused by the explosion of an oil rig — as a “natural” disaster.
The oil industry “has deep pockets, and they have a long history of supporting Republicans,” said political consultant John Weaver, a former strategist for John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. “Like any kind of addiction, it’s a terribly difficult thing to break.”
Indeed, Weaver’s comments are perfectly illustrated on the GOP side in a U.S. Senate campaign in Kansas. As the Kansas City Star reports, the “state’s next senator is widely expected to be either Rep. Todd Tiahrt or Rep. Jerry Moran,” Republicans who have each “been a consistent vote for oil and gas industry interests — supporting oil exploration subsidies and expansion while opposing Democratic plans to subsidize alternative energy sources.” And for their efforts, the two have been handsomely rewarded:
The oil and gas industry has been generous in return, giving the two almost $900,000 in campaign contributions since the mid-1990s. [...]
Since his election to Congress in 1994, Tiahrt has raised $618,773, including $79,800 in this election cycle, from oil and gas interests, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Of the overall total, more than half — $312,353 — has come from individuals and political action committees related to Koch Industries of Wichita, one of the largest private energy companies in the world.
Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO) who is running fo U.S. Senate in nearby Missouri, “has received more than $500,000 from oil and gas interests, including $133,100 in his 2010 Senate race.” Nearly 20 percent of Moran’s personal investment portfolio is invested in oil and gas stocks, including tens of thousands of dollars in ExxonMobil, Chevron, and Halliburton stock.
A Greenpeace spokesperson called Tiahrt “another example of someone who is obviously owned, bought and paid by the oil industry.” Tiahrt’s response? “That’s rather odd coming from somebody who…is bought and paid by the environmental groups.”