How BP Money Spent on Lobbying and Campaign Contributions Pays Off

The company that markets itself as Beyond Petroleum (BP) spent $16 million in 2009 lobbying Congress and the federal government, and spent $3.5 million on lobbying during the first three months of this year. BP employees have so far donated at least $160,000 to congressional candidates and their political parties. Add campaign donations to political action committees (PACs), and the total amount spent by BP’s employees is over $1 million, according to an Associated Press analysis.

BP’s campaign contributions to Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu (D) continue to pay off, as she still supports offshore drilling. Landrieu’s spokesperson, Aaron Saunders said, “I think her record speaks for itself.” Yes, indeed, Senator Landrieu’s record of campaign contributions from BP speaks for itself.

Landrieu was the top congressional recipient of BP campaign contributions, almost $17,000, during the last election cycle. The current president of BP America, Lamar McKay gave $1,000 to Landrieu’s 2008 relection campaign in November 2007. Robert A. Malone, predecessor to McKay, gave $2,300 to Landrieu’s campaign. Margaret Hudson, BP America’s vice president gave $1,100, and Benjamin Cannon, BP America’s federal affairs director, gave $2,300.

At a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last November, Landrieu  dismissed concerns about the chances of a massive spill happening in the Gulf of Mexico like the one that occurred off Australia’s coast last August. “It wouldn’t even be allowed in this country because it doesn’t stand up to our strict environmental rules.” She then went on to say that if it happened, the spill would only be “one-third of the amount necessary to fill the Reflecting Pool outside of this Capitol.”

During the hearing, Landrieu attacked the testimony of John Amos, president of SkyTruth, the environmental group that monitors conditions with satellite images, about the impact of the Australian spill. Estimates of spill then ranged from 1.2 million to 9 million gallons, but she insisted it was 823,000 gallons.

At a hearing last month by the same committee, Landrieu said the same thing about the Australian oil spill:

“I mean, just the gallons are so minuscule compared to the benefits of U.S. strength and security, the benefits of job creation and energy security. So while there are risks associated with everything, I think you understand that they are quite, quite minimal.”

After Huffington Post asked her if she still stands by her comments, her office issued a statement saying that Landrieu “firmly believes that this accident should not be used as an excuse to abandon plans to make America more energy secure.”

Is anyone surprised that Landrieu is still a supporter of offshore drilling despite the fact that her state is suffering from one of the worst ecological disaster to ever hit it? Is it also a surprise that Landrieu’s office told Open Secrets she has no plans to return contributions from BP? Who would kill the proverbial golden goose?

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by