WASHINGTON, July 15, 2004 The United States is the oil and gas industry's biggest customer, slurping up fully a quarter of global production in 2003.
Not surprisingly, the industry has lavished more than $440 million over the past six years on politicians, political parties and lobbyists in order to protect its interests in Washington, according to a new report by the Center for Public Integrity.
This is the first of a series of Center reports that aim to identify the size and scope of the international oil and gas industry and measure its influence in the halls of government worldwide.
Among the key findings:
The world's largest oil company and third largest company of any kind, ExxonMobil, was the industry's leader in lobbying expenditures, spending $55 million to plead its case with official Washington over the past six years.
Other noteworthy entries on the list include the top industry group, the American Petroleum Institute ($20 million), and Occidental Petroleum ($12 million).
Some more notorious names on the list include scandal-plagued Enron Corp. ($16 million) and Vice President Dick Cheney's former employer Halliburton Corp. ($3 million), which is currently the subject of government investigations over its contract work in Iraq and alleged bribes paid in connection with a natural gas project in Nigeria.
When it came to tapping the oil industry for campaign dollars, no one has come close to former Texas oilman George W. Bush. The president has received $1.7 million in campaign cash from the oil and gas industry.
That was more than three times the amount given to the next biggest recipient of the industry's largesse, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman and fellow Texan Joe Barton, who collected $574,000. Next came another Texas Republican, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who took in just under $500,000.
Only three Democrats were able to crack into the top 20 recipients of oil and gas campaign contributions since 1998. All three came from oil-rich Louisiana.
They were Sen. Mary Landrieu, Sen. John Breaux and Rep. Christopher John.
The two national parties each took in more than any individual candidate, national Republican committees getting $24 million and Democrats a bit under $8 million.
While most of the big oil and gas companies operate their own lobbying shops in Washington, the industry also farmed out a substantial amount of its work to some of Washington's largest and most influential lobbying firms.
On the top of that list was Bracewell and Patterson, which has gotten $4,880,000 in lobbying work from the oil and gas industry since 1998.
Among the partners at Bracewell and Patterson is Marc Racicot, the former Montana governor who is the chairman of the Bush-Cheney 2004 election campaign. Edward Krenik, former head of congressional and intergovernmental relations at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is a lobbyist with the firm.
Other top Washington lobbying firms that got work from the oil and gas industry include Hill & Knowlton; Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld and National Environmental Strategies Company.