Report Shows Natural-Gas Industry Gave $23 Million to PA Legislators
A new report sheds some light on who in Harrisburg is receiving campaign contributions from the natural-gas industry. And it’s not pretty.
According to MarcellusMoney.org (which is a is a collaborative effort of Common Cause PA and the Conversation Voters of PA, environmentalist groups) report, the natural-gas industry has forked over $23 million to influence Pennsylvania state officials—including $8 million to state officials and candidates since 2000 and $15.7 million in lobbying between 2007 and 2012—to get them on board with drilling in the Marcellus Shale.
The biggest winner of cash money in Pennsylvania? Gov. Corbett. He’s received over $1.8 million in funds; while Senate President Joseph Scarnati, a Republican who represents parts of Jefferson, McKean, Elk and other counties, got $359,145.72 and House Majority Leader Rep. Mike Turzai, of Western Pennsylvania, took in $98,600.
The data was retrieved from the Pennsylvania Department of State’s Campaign Finance and lobbying disclosure forms.
And if you thought our local legislators were immune (being as many are Democrats/have spoken out against drilling), think again.
MarcellusMoney.org shows former Philly state Rep. Dennis O’Brien took in $3,200 between 2007 and 2008; Sen. Larry Farnese took $1,500 in 2008; Sen. Vincent Hughes took in $1,000 between 2007 and 2011; Rep. Mike O’Brien took in $600 in 2010 and 2011; Anthony Hardy Williams took $500 in 2007; and so on.
Lobbying increased about $1 million between 2010 and 2011 and, according to Josh McNeil, executive director of Conservation Voters of PA: “For their $23 million political investment, gas companies avoided hundreds of millions in taxes that could have paid for thousands of teachers, roads and desperately needed environmental protections.”
Marcellus Money notes that Pennsylvania is one of 11 states “that fail to limit campaign contributions.” Good thing, too. Clean water is expensive.