Mike Simpson Rewards Big Campaign Donors

Washington, D.C.—Campaign finance watchdog Public Campaign Action Fund blasted Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) for leading his subcommittee’s efforts to provide hand outs to big money donors as part of the appropriations process. Simpson is chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, which this afternoon passed an appropriations bill that would 1) restrict funding to protect public health and the environment, 2) expand offshore drilling, and 3) weaken rules on greenhouse gas emissions and pollution standards.

“Rep. Simpson and his subcommittee today did what’s best for his campaign donors—not the people of Idaho,” said David Donnelly, national campaigns director for Public Campaign Action Fund. “By restricting the funding for the enforcement of public health standards, and by making it easier for oil and mining companies to continue polluting, Simpson and is colleagues are putting people’s health at risk.”

Aside from cutting the environmental protection budget by 20 percent, there are several “riders” included that would benefit many of the industries that have donated to Simpson’s campaigns, according to Public Campaign Action Fund analysis of data from the Center for Responsive Politics

  • The legislation would expand offshore drilling and restrict the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules for air pollution on these exploration permits. Simpson has received at least $131,100 in campaign contributions from oil and gas interests during his time in Congress.
  • The legislation also provides several restrictions on monitoring and addressing issues around mountaintop removal mining. Simpson’s campaign committee has received at least $47,000 in campaign cash from mining interests during his time in Congress.
  • The budget also provides exemptions or restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions related to agricultural activities. Agribusiness represents the highest-giving sector to Rep. Simpson’s campaigns over the years at more than $643,000 in campaign contributions.
  • A provision in the bill would restrict the regulation of formaldehyde, a chemical recently found by the Department of Health and Human Services to be a carcinogen. During his time in Congress, Simpson has received at least $73,000 from chemical manufacturing interests.

The bill now heads to the full Appropriations Committee where there should be more debate beginning next week.

“Instead of seriously addressing our nation’s energy future while protecting public health, Rep Simpson and his colleagues are passing handouts to big polluters and wealthy oil companies,” said Donnelly. “The people of Idaho have to wonder if he’s working for them or his big money donors.”

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Public Campaign Action Fund is a national nonprofit watchdog group working to improve America's election laws and to hold elected officials accountable. Learn more at www.campaignmoney.org.