When we make a mistake in our attempts to keep you informed about your state government and its elected officials, we make it a point to make amends as quickly and as accurately as possible in order to be fair to all concerned.
With that in mind, we owe a sincere apology for inadvertently misrepresenting the amount of campaign contributions received by certain legislators in our Wednesday post about the House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rep. Gordon Dove (R-Houma), State Sen. Robert Adley (R-Benton) and Sen. Bret Allain (R-Franklin).
You may remember that we said that Adley had received $70,500 in campaign contributions from oil and gas interests and that Dove and Allain received $10,500 and $6,800, respectively.
We were incorrect and in fairness to them, we want to give the correct figures here and now:
- Sen. Robert Adley: $597,950;
- Sen. Bret Allain: $34,139;
- Rep. Gordon Dove: $28,950.
There, now. We certainly feel better for having cleared the air and we hope the honorable legislators will forgive us our error.
We do not have a revised amount of oil and gas-related campaign contributions for Gov. Bobby Jindal, but we have confirmed that it is at least $545,000, most probably more. A lot more.
If there are any lingering doubts out there that politicians are bought and sold by the special interests like so many sacks of potatoes, consider the money that has been spread among our state lawmakers—just from the oil and gas interests:
- The 144 incumbent legislators (remember, this does not include those who have left office) have received more than $5.8 million in campaign contributions by a single special interest group—oil and gas. That comes to an average of $40,357 per legislator.
- For the 39 current members of the Louisiana Senate, the aggregate is a little north of $2.8 million, or $51,100 each.
- A total of $2.99 million was distributed among the 105 House members—an average of $28, 458 each, the figures show.
So, the obvious question is: what do the oil and gas interests expect in return—other than the continuation of the same good, clean government to which we have grown so accustomed in Louisiana?
How about the dismissal of a pesky lawsuit that could result in the 97 oil companies having to spend some of their hard-earned profits to clean up and restore the state’s wetlands that they have destroyed over decades of misuse and abuse.
Just think what a bummer it would be if ExxonMobil had to dip into that $8.35 billion in net profits it earned during the last quarter of 2013. Same for Shell, with its $2.9 billion in net profits for the final quarter of last year. I mean, c’mon, you have to feel some sympathy for ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson who only makes $2.72 million per year—in salary, that is. An adverse court decision could impact his annual bonus of $3.7 million (plus 225,000 shares of restricted stock worth another $21.3 million). That’s $27.7 million in 2013 alone. http://www.foxbusiness.com/industries/2014/04/11/exxon-ceo-2013-compensation-falls-278519336/
So, by obtaining a dismissal of litigation—before it ever goes to trial or even to the discovery stage—that could conceivably cost oil companies several hundred million dollars by spreading $5.8 million around represents a nice return on investment.
And make no mistake about it: campaign contributions are just that—investments. Nothing more, nothing less. More specifically, they are investments not in good government, but in business. And politics is a business—a very dirty business.
Politics long ago, even before the repugnant Citizens United U.S. Supreme Court decision of 2010, took the citizens of this country and this state out of the equation, eliminated us from the decision-making process on issues that clearly affect our lives each and every day.
And if you still believe our government is of the people, by the people and for the people, then you are either wonderfully naïve or pitifully delusional.
Not all the political back scratching, vote buying and deal making takes place in Washington. With far too few exceptions, it’s as close as our nearest state senator, state representative Board of Elementary and Secondary Education member and yes, even our governor. Especially our governor, the one who supposedly sets the moral tone for all other elected officials.
And the investments of the oil and gas interests in lawmakers who are supposed to be representing the interests of the state and its citizens are only indicative of a much larger problem, a problem that undermines the trust in the entire body politic, in the political process itself.
Can it be an accident that the seven members of the Senate Natural Resources Committee received an average of $62,902 each from oil interests—$11,785 more than the average for the 32 senators not assigned to that committee?
Do you think it a coincidence that the 19 members of the House Committee on Natural Resources and Environment received an average of $31,670—again, $3,200 more than the average for the remaining House membership?
Oil and gas contributions for the Senate committee members totaled $462,150 and for the House committee members, $394,150—a grand total of $856,300.
And then there is the seven-member Senate Committee on Environmental Quality, chaired by Sen. Mike Walsworth, or as one blogger refers to him, Walsworthless, (R-West Monroe), whose $46,775 was eclipsed by fellow committee member Sen. Dale Erdy (R-Livingston), who raked in $118,400 in donations from oil and gas.
In all, seven senators, including Adley, Gerald Long (R-Natchitoches) and Senate President John Alario (R-Westwego), received in excess of $100,000 from oil and gas interests. Alario, the poster child for using campaign funds for private purposes, received $124,400. That’s a lot of Saints and LSU football tickets and, with his expensive eating habits, a couple of gourmet meals at one of New Orleans’ finer restaurants.
Over on the House side, only one member received more than $100,000. But that just happened to be House Speaker Chuck Kleckley (R-Lake Charles). How’s that for strategic placement of your money?
And then there is Sen. Elbert Guillory (R/D/R-Opelousas) the carpetbagger from Seattle who is an announced candidate for lieutenant governor. Guillory seems to pop up anywhere there are contributions to be had. A member of the Senate Judiciary C Committee, he managed to pull in $130,400, second only to Adley’s $597,950.
These are just some of the highlights of the data we received, courtesy of Moss Robeson of Brooklyn, N.Y., whom we would like to thank for conducting a more thorough data search and for crunching the numbers for us. Working as an intern on behalf of John Barry and the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East (SFLPA-E), he not only ran the numbers on the Senate and members of the House Committee on Natural Resources, he ran them for every member of the entire legislature.
After all, if Gov. Jindal can continue pulling in talent from out of state, then why not bring Ross in for this project—especially since his mom resides in New Orleans?
For the complete list compiled by Robeson, click here: Copy of Campaign Contributions
Here is the way the full House voted on SB 469 on Thursday:
Total — 59
Total – 39
Total — 6