Weeks after BP oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, Politico reported that during the last 20 years, the company and its employees gave more money to President Obama than any other federal political candidate.
On Fox News Sunday, Sarah Palin tried to make it into a wider narrative. “I don’t know why the question isn’t asked by the mainstream media and by others if there’s any connection with the contributions made to President Obama and his administration and the support by the oil companies to the administration,” she said. Think Progress has the story on this inane charge in this repost (which is followed by a Media Matters excerpt).
Palin wondered if there is “any connection there to President Obama taking so doggone long to “¦ grasp the complexity and the potential tragedy that we are seeing here in the Gulf of Mexico.” Mainstream media outlet the Wall Street Journal did ask and it appears the answer doesn’t give cover to Palin’s charges:
According to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, Republicans receive far more campaign money from the oil and gas industry than do Democrats.
So far in 2010, the oil and gas industries have contributed $12.8 million to all candidates, with 71% of that money going to Republicans. During the 2008 election cycle, 77% of the industry’s $35.6 million in contributions went to Republicans, and in the 2008 presidential contest, Republican candidate Sen. John McCain received more than twice as much money from the oil and gas industries as Obama: McCain collected $2.4 million; Obama, $898,000.
Moreover, as Time’s Michael Scherer noted, the Politico article on BP’s donations “fails to provide the context readers need” considering Obama ran for president, and the numbers aren’t adjusted for “campaign inflation.” Even right-wing blogger Ed Morrissey warned the GOP not to “overpay their hand on this issue.”
Like clockwork, media outlets seized on Palin’s accusation and cited Center for Responsive Politics’ calculation that Obama had received $71,051 in BP-linked contributions for his presidential campaign. Only problem is, contrary to Palin’s and the media’s suggestions, all of that money came from BP employees, not BP the company. A spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics confirmed Monday that “the $71,051 that Obama received during the 2008 election cycle was entirely from BP employees.” The CRP spokesman also stated that “Obama did not accept contributions from political action committees, so none of this money is from BP’s PAC. And corporations themselves are prohibited from donating directly to candidates from their corporate treasuries.”
Why is this an important distinction? Because Obama raised far more money than any other candidate ever has, therefore, it is completely unsurprising that Obama also received the most amount of money from BP employees. Moreover, BP-linked contributions to Obama’s campaign are a drop in the bucket when compared to Obama’s total campaign haul. In addition to the $71,051 Obama received from BP-linked contributors in 2008, Obama’s 2004 Senate campaign raised $6,000 from BP-linked sources, bringing Obama’s total BP-related campaign contributions to 77,051. This represents less than .01 percent of the nearly $800 million that Obama raised for his campaigns.