Outcasts in Washington, BP Turns to … Indiana?

Flickr/<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/75905404@N00/505688957/">OZinOH</a> (<a href="http://www.creativecommons.org">Creative Commons</a>).

BP’s donations to federal candidates have stopped in the three months since the Deepwater Horizon disaster began. But that doesn’t mean the oil giant has stopped all political activity. BP’s political action committee spent nothing on federal candidates in June, according to a new report from the Center for Responsive Politics. But the company’s PAC gave $27,300 to candidates for state office–and that’s not including the free tickets to see Britney Spears or the Sacramento Kings.

All 80 recipients in June were from Indiana; in May the company gave $8,250 in contributions to 10 state-level candidates in California. The company has clearly been spending less on candidates, but it’s not hard up for cash. In June the PAC reported $19,800 in income and had $299,500 in cash on hand at the end of the month.

BP PAC’s scaled back investment in federal candidates is perhaps unsurprising. No one–not even the lawmakers who have defended BP in hearings—wants to be caught taking money from the company right now. House Energy Committee member Charlie Gonzalez (D-Texas) was the only federal candidate offered money from the PAC in May, and he pledged to not accept BP’s check. “They’re certainly been a lot of political push back,” said Michael Beckel, a former Mother Jones editorial fellow who reports on money in politics for CRP. “We’ve seen Democrats and Republicans pledge to refuse contributions, pledge to return contributions, or donate the money to charity to get rid of taint that might be associated with taking money from BP right now.”

BP’s PAC has donated more than $79,000 to federal candidates since January 2009, but that was before this oil disaster got in the way of their blatant attempts to influence federal policy.


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  • Kate Sheppard was a staff reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau from 2009 to 2013. She is now a senior reporter and the energy and environment editor at The Huffington Post. She can be reached by email at kate (dot) sheppard (at) huffingtonpost (dot) com and you can follow her on Twitter @kate_sheppard.