Thanks to Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour’s (R) prodigious fundraising, which continued apace even the very same day the oil slick reached Mississippi, the Republican Governors Association was able to raise an astonishing $19 million last quarter. A ThinkProgress review of RGA documents recently filed with the Internal Revenue Service reveals that a significant portion of last quarter’s haul—more than $2,000,000—came from oil and gas industry interests, including:
$1,000,000 from infamous right-wing oil billionaire and tea party-funder David Koch. $250,000 from Devon Energy $150,000 from Chevron $100,000 from ExxonMobil $100,000 from Hunt Oil $25,000 from Marathon Oil $25,000 each from Bollinger Shipyards and the president of Gilbert Cheramie Boat, both of which provide support services to the offshore oil drilling industry.
Barbour is no stranger to raking in huge sums of money from Big Oil and other polluters. He raised some $1.8 million in campaign cash from the oil and gas industries during his 2003 and 2007 gubernatorial campaigns. During his two cycles as chairman of the Republican National Committee in the 90s, the oil and gas industry contributed $30 million to the RNC — nearly three times as much as it gave to Democrats during the same period. He also maintained extremely close ties to dirty energy interests when he was one of Washington D.C.’s most prominent corporate lobbyists, representing some of the nation’s largest polluters. As Mississippi governor, he has remained an outspoken opponent of clean energy policies.
As BP’s oil rolled onto the beaches of the Gulf Coast and the cash rolled into the RGA, Barbour consistently and conspicuously downplayed the significance of the BP disaster. After skipping two meetings with President Obama, he went on to argue that the Obama administration’s common-sense moratorium on deepwater drilling was worse than the spill itself. And before eventually backtracking, Barbour complained that the $20 billion escrow fund BP agreed to setup “bother[ed]” him because it might cut into BP’s profits.
One wonders whether it’s a coincidence that all of the large donations listed above came in after Barbour began downplaying the significance of the disaster. The Biloxi Sun-Herald, which twice endorsed Barbour for governor, wrote that Barbour’s “underestimation” of the oil disaster left had left Mississippi’s Gulf Coast “more vulnerable” than that of neighboring states. The paper also called his decision to continue fundraising during “these days of crisis” “questionable, even troubling.”