News Release: Republican Lawmakers’ Walkout Will Bring Them Big Campaign Checks from Big Polluters

In Press Release by OLCVstaff

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OLCV Contact: Doug Moore, OLCV Executive Director
(503) 224-4011; dmoore@olcv.org

Republican Lawmakers’ Walkout Will Bring Them Big Campaign Checks from Big Polluters
A Newly Released Study Finds Anti-Environment Votes Lead to More Campaign Contributions from Oil and Gas

PORTLAND, Ore. – The walkouts by Oregon’s Republican senators and representatives are incredibly unpopular with Oregon voters, however, for Republicans, shutting down the legislature by refusing to show up and do their jobs likely means raking in more big campaign contributions from big polluters. A review of recent donations to the runaway Republicans shows big spending by the fossil fuel industry and other corporate polluters – including a $20,000 spending spree from Koch Industries (see below for detailed accounting of contributions in Oregon).

This tracks with the evidence from a newly published national study.

Oil and gas companies invest in legislators that vote against the environment,”[1] published on Feb. 24, 2020, by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) is a ground-breaking study, and hits close to home in Oregon by showing how lawmakers are rewarded by the oil and gas industry for opposing environmental bills. The nationwide study looked at members of Congress from 1990 to 2018, comparing voting records using legislators’ scores from the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) and their campaign contributions from oil and gas companies.

According to PNAS’s study, “oil and gas companies seem to provide financial rewards to members of Congress after they have voted against legislation to protect the environment.”

“These results are deeply troubling, and tell us that Oregon’s House and Senate Republicans walking out to stop climate action is really about the big checks from oil and gas companies they will be rewarded with for their 2020 campaigns,” said Doug Mooreexecutive director of the Oregon League of Conservation Voters (OLCV). “The climate crisis will devastate people living in their districts, and the natural resource economy in Oregon, for generations if we do nothing. The science is clear, so what else explains these politicians’ refusal to even discuss any strong climate action in Oregon?”

The PNAS study found an alarming correlation between the number of anti-environment votes and the amount of campaign contributions they received: “For every additional 10% of congressional votes against the environment in 2014, a legislator would receive an additional $5,400 in campaign contributions from oil and gas companies in 2016.” It also found that legislators who voted against the environment nearly 100% of the time saw their rewards compounded, leading to much higher contributions from oil and gas companies.

“If simply voting against the environment gets rewarded by oil and gas, then Oregon Republicans shutting down our legislature to stop a climate bill from even getting a vote is going to have big polluters reaching for their checkbooks faster than Republicans have been fleeing their jobs,” said Moore. “If the Republicans walking out is really about people and not corporate interests, then they should pledge to refuse any campaign contributions for their 2020 campaigns from oil and gas companies,” continued Moore.

The Senate Republicans also walked out in 2019, twice. Once on behalf of million dollar corporations that didn’t want to pay their fair share for funding our children’s education. The second time, they killed the cap-and-invest bill for climate action, HB 2020 (2019).

Since July 1, 2019, Oregon Republican legislators, those that voted against the bill in the House and those who walked out to kill it in the Senate, have received hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from corporations and industry groups. Even when the 2020 General Election was still a year away, Republican legislators were receiving big checks from big polluters who opposed HB 2020, including the following (source: ORESTAR).

  • Koch Industries gave $20,000 to Republican legislators: $2,000 each to Senate Minority Leader Herman Baertschiger, House Minority Leader Christine Drazan, Sen. Fred Girod, Reps. Shelly Boshart Davis, David Brock Smith, Daniel Bonham, Duane Stark, E Werner Reschke, and Jack Zika; and $1,000 to Sens. Dennis Linthicum and Tim Knopp.
  • Republican legislators also received $13,500 from Oregon Business & Industry Candidate PAC, $12,500 from Chevron, $11,000 from Orloggers PAC, $7,000 from Oregon Fuels Association PAC, and $3,500 from BP North America.
  • Senate Minority Leader Herman Baertschiger received $2,500 from OrLoggers PAC, $2,000 from Koch Industries, $1,000 from Chevron, $1,000 from Oregon Fuels Association, $1,000 from Oregon Business & Industry Candidate PAC, and $500 from BP North America.
  • Baertschiger has received 74 contributions since July, 2019. Not a single one has come from an individual.
  • House Minority Leader Christine Drazan received $2,500 from Orloggers PAC, $2,000 from Koch Industries, $2,000 from Oregon Business & Industry Candidate PAC, $1,000 from Oregon Fuels Association, $500 from Chevron, and $500 from BP North America.
  • Out of the 152 contributions to Drazan, just 27 are from individuals, and the majority of those reported are lobbyists or closely tied to big corporate interests.

“In Oregon, Republican lawmakers have a long history of being rewarded for their anti-environmental votes with millions of dollars from big polluters,” says Moore.

In March, 2019, The Oregonian’s “Polluted by Money” series, by Rob Davis, highlighted the out-sized influence of big corporations and industry, and how they are directly correlated to weakened environmental protections in our state. Some of the startlingly figures from The Oregonian’s investigation:

  • Oregon Republican legislators received $23.9 million from corporations and industry groups between 2008 and 2016.
  • Seventy-two percent of all the donations to Republican legislators came from corporations and industry groups, rather than everyday, working Oregonians.
  • Sen. Fred Girod received 89% of his campaign contributions from corporations and industry groups, which was the highest percentage of any legislator.
  • Senate Minority Leader Herman Baertschiger received 80% of his campaign contributions from corporations and industry groups, second place by highest percentage; and this was before Baertschiger became the Senate Minority Leader.Rep. Duane Stark received 79% of his campaign contributions from corporations and industry groups, which gave him the highest percentage for any House Member.
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