Oil and Gas Interests Fuel Railroad Commission Contests

Oil and Gas Interests Fuel Railroad Commission Contests

Smitherman, Chisum, Craddick Pocket Nearly $2.5 Million From Oil and Gas Industry

AUSTIN – Leading up to the July 31 GOP runoff, the four Texas Railroad Commission candidates vying for two spots in the November general election have raised a total of $6,199,427 through July 20. Of that amount $2,471,057, or 40 percent, came from oil and gas interests that are generally subject to the commission’s regulations, according to an analysis of campaign disclosure reports by Public Citizen’s Texas office.

Incumbent Commission Chairman Barry Smitherman, who is running to complete his unexpired term, raised an astounding $3,389,519 since July 2011. Of that, $1,338,623 came from identifiable oil and gas companies and their employees. His opponent, Gregory Parker, raised only $261,818, with a mere $2,600 from oil and gas interests.

Warren Chisum and Christi Craddick are facing off to fill the seat vacated by Elizabeth Ames Jones. Craddick has raised $1,896,396, with 45 percent coming from oil and gas; while Chisum has raised $651,694, with 42 percent from oil and gas interests.

Total Raised by RRC Candidates with Total from Oil and Gas Interests
Candidate Total Raised Oil & Gas Contributions % from Oil & Gas

Warren Chisum $651,694 $271,750 42%
Christi Craddick $1,896,396 $858,084 45%
Barry Smitherman, Incumbent $3,389,519 $1,338,623 39%
Gregory Parker  $261,818 $2,600 1%
TOTAL $6,199,427 $2,471,057 40%

Based on reports filed with Texas Ethics Commission and compiled by Texans for Public Justice.

“Every Texan should care about this race, because in Texas, who the railroad commissioner is makes a big difference in air quality, water quality and the price you pay for gas and electricity,” said Tom “Smitty” Smith, director of Public Citizen’s Texas office.

“The smartest business people in Texas wouldn’t keep investing in Railroad Commission races if they didn’t see a payback,” continued Smith. “No wonder the oil and gas industry is so under-inspected and under-regulated in Texas.

“If we want regulators regulating industry and not industry regulating industry, the state needs to put campaign finance reforms in place to limit the amount of money that insiders can contribute to these races.”