Big Money Mitch and Big Oil

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Few issues have dominated an election like oil and energy did this summer. From foreign policy, to environmental protection, to the economic concerns of the middle class, candidates all over the country devoted a great deal of time to the problem of rising demand for oil and its environmental costs. Over the summer, Sen. Mitch McConnell joined in, observing that “there’s also little doubt … that the single most important issue facing Americans at the moment is the high price of gas at the pump.”[1]

McConnell’s solution, though, won’t solve the energy crisis or reduce gas prices. He has repeatedly supported giveaways and tax breaks for the oil companies, and he has consistently led his party in voting against windfall profits taxes on oil companies,[2] voting for tax breaks to oil companies,[3] and voting to open up ANWR and other natural treasures to oil exploration.[4] He even blocked a measure supporting alternative energy that had already passed the House of Representatives.[5]

Not surprisingly, McConnell and his campaign committees have had a financially beneficial relationship with the oil and gas industry. Since 1989, his campaign committees have received more than three-quarters of a million dollars from employees and PACs of oil and gas companies. His fifth biggest donor in terms of companies is Ashland Inc., which has given $145,676 to his campaign account and leadership PAC.[6]

In a year where the Big Oil is spending prodigious amounts of political money to push its agenda, they’ve helped to lock in the senior senator from Kentucky as one of their strongest advocates in Washington.


1. McConnell press release, June 20, 2008. Accessed June 24, 2008.
2. S. 3044: Roll Call #146 (2008)
3. H.R. 6: Roll Call #317 (2003)
4. S. 2284: Roll Call #123 (2008) and Amdt. No. 1566, As Modified, H.R. 6: Roll Call #212 (2007)
5. Public Campaign Action Fund. “Block It Any Way You Can”
6. Campaign finance and lobbying figures are based on Campaign Money Watch analysis of data obtained from the Center for Responsive Politics, a non-partisan organization that tracks and codes campaign finance data by industry and tracks lobbying. Campaign finance data include individual contributions ($200+) and from Political Action Committees (PACs) to campaign committees and leadership PACs. Data for the 2008 cycle were downloaded in October 2008.