Note: The release has been updated to clarify the timeline of the campaign spending by the fossil fuel industry.
Feb. 2, 2016
Public Interest Organizations Support Greater Campaign Finance Disclosures by Fossil Fuel Industry
U.S. Sen. Whitehouse Amendment to Energy Bill Would Require Fossil Fuel Companies to Tell Public About Their Political Spending
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, several public interest organizations as well as former U.S. Sen. Tim Wirth (D-Colo.) urged (PDF) the U.S. Senate to approve an amendment to the energy bill that would require greater campaign finance disclosure by the fossil fuel industry.
Those urging the Senate to approve the transparency amendment include the Center for Biological Diversity, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Common Cause, Democracy 21, Free Speech for People, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, Public Citizen, SustainUS and Wirth.
“The fossil fuel industry is a significant source of ‘dark money’ in our elections, financing campaign ads to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “At the same time, the industry also is the recipient of government largess in contracts, tax benefits and public policies. We need to see what it is trying to buy with its campaign dollars.”
According to the Atlas Project, during the 2014 election cycle, the fossil fuel industry spent more than $163 million on television ads across the country, contributed $64 million more directly to candidates and parties, and likely spent hundreds of millions more on electioneering activities by outside groups. More than a third of electioneering spending by outside groups was paid for by unknown sources.
U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) has introduced Amendment No. 2953 to require companies with revenue of $1 million or more derived from fossil fuel activities to disclose their spending on electioneering ads, including transfers to outside groups used for electioneering ads, if the total exceeds $10,000 yearly. The amendment is co-sponsored by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.).
“As we enter what will be the most expensive, secret money-laden election in history, we need to keep focused on the need for transparency of money in politics,” said Lisa Gilbert, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “The Whitehouse amendment is one significant step toward that transparency.”