Contributions from the oil and gas industry represented 2% of estimated donations to the candidates who sought positions in the US Senate and House of Representatives on Nov. 5.
According to Federal Election Commission figures reported by the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), political contributions from the industry in the 2001-02 campaign cycle totaled $17.6 million as of election day. Donations from all categories so far total about $752.3 million.
The oil-and-gas sum includes $4.3 million from political action committees (PACs), $7.6 million in soft money (to political parties), and $5.7 from individuals donating more than $200.
Oil and gas ranked 10th among the CRP's categories of major political donors. Ahead of it were lawyers and law firms $59 million, retired $50 million, securities and investments $39 million, real estate $39 million, TV-movies-music $29 million, insurance $26 million, health professionals $25 million, computer equipment and services $18 million, and pharmaceuticals and health products $18 million.
Oil and gas industry donors gave four times more money to Republicans than to Democrats.
Of the top 10 individual recipients of donations from oil and gas PACs and individuals, only one lost: Sen. Tim Hutchinson (R-Ark.).
The only nonincumbent on that list, Texas Republican John Cornyn, won his race for the seat of retiring Sen. Phil Gramm. He received industry donations totaling $330,000, highest on the industry list and well ahead of the $179,000 received by runner-up Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.).
The top 10 industry sources of campaign donations in the 2001-02 election cycle—not all of which made corporate contributions—were El Paso Corp. $1.3 million, ChevronTexaco Corp. $1.2 million, Koch Industries Inc. $827,000, ExxonMobil Corp. $790,000, Ashland Inc. $714,000, Enron Corp. $515,000, Occidental Petroleum Corp. $453,000, American Gas Association $449,000, Williams Cos. $438,000, and BP PLC $379,000.
Spending patterns will change in the next election cycle. The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, which took effect Nov. 6, bans donations of soft money and raises the limits on contributions by individuals.
Political aficionados will wonder whether the changes reduce the role of money in politics. Donors will wonder whether they got their money's worth.
(Online Nov. 8, 2002; author's e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)