By Alex Kotch
When candidates run for president, they receive a slew of donations from across the business world, from sectors such as finance, insurance and real estate, health, communications and electronics, labor, and energy and natural resources. Some of these donations have come under scrutiny recently, particularly those from Wall Street and those from the fossil fuel industry.
Disturbed by current elected officials’ inaction on climate change at least in part due to the powerful influence the fossil fuel industry has on policy, environmentalists and concerned citizens are pushing the 2016 presidential candidates to reject campaign contributions from industry political action committees (PACs) and people who work in the industry.
Last July, The Nation and 350 Action called on the candidates to sign their pledge to refuse donations from oil, gas or coal companies; however, direct federal contributions from companies are illegal. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), who recently dropped out of the presidential contest, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein have signed the pledge.
In December, Greenpeace and 19 other organizations asked the candidates to sign on to their Pledge to Fix Democracy, a pledge to defend voting rights, overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission decision, and to refuse “money from fossil fuel interests.” These interests, as defined by Greenpeace, mean fossil fuel company PACs, registered lobbyists that work on behalf of such a company, or top executives. Only Sen. Sanders has signed this pledge.
A look into the financial support that the fossil fuel industry has given presidential contenders may shed light on their resistance to these anti-fossil fuel pledges.
By Alex Kotch
The time has come.
Today marks the launch of an interesting new bi-partisan campaign to get corporate money out of U.S. politics. Two new sites - Represent.Us and AntiCorruptionAct.org - contain lots of information about the effort, so I'll only scratch the surface in boiling down the elements of the American Anti-Corruption Act:
1) Stop the Bribery - ban lobbyists from donating to politicians or otherwise lavishing them with 'freebies' to influence decision-making.
2) End Secret Money - require full transparency and disclosure of donors who contribute to politicians via bundlers.
3) People Over PACs - impose strict limits on PACs, and give voters an annual $100 tax rebate to spend supporting the candidate or party of their choice.
Why? Well, here's a short video explaining why you should care about this and why you should tell everyone you know to support it as well.
If you're interested in getting involved, become a citizen co-sponsor of the Anti-Corruption Act now, and spread the word far and wide.
In a press release, Marcellus Money, a project of Common Cause of Pennsylvania and Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania laid out the sobering facts about the frackers' stranglehold over the PA state government, writing,
The natural gas industry and related trade groups have now given nearly $8 million to Pennsylvania state candidates and political committees since 2000…Top recipients of industry money given between 2000 and April 2012 were Governor Tom Corbett (R) with $1,813,205.59, Senate President Joseph Scarnati (R-25) with $359,145.72, Rep. Dave Reed (R-62) with $137,532.33, House Majority Leader Rep. Mike Turzai (R-28) with $98,600, and Sen. Don White (R-41) with $94,150.
Furthermore, between 2007-2012, the gas industry spent an astounding $15.7 million on lobbying the PA state legislature.
The overwhelming majority of the campaign cash flowed in the direction of Republican Party politicians between 2010-12. Individual GOP politicians and Political Action Committees (PACs) received $4.5 million from the gas industry during that time frame, while, on the other side of the aisle, Democratic Party politicians and PACs received roughly $650,000.
“The industry has largely had its way in Pennsylvania and has spent millions to put their friends in the state legislature and the Governor’s mansion,” said James Browning, Regional Director of State Operations for Common Cause, in the press release. “The industry’s focus now is on protecting these investments and maintaining access to key elected officials.”