POLITICS

After Record $5 Billion Pollution Settlement, Oil Company Still Has Friends On Capitol Hill

04/22/2014 06:05 pm ET | Updated Apr 22, 2014
Tom Williams via Getty Images

WASHINGTON -- A joint fundraising committee controlled by Republican Senate leaders Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) received contributions exclusively from executives of the independent oil and gas company Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, according to a report filed with the Federal Election Commission.

The McConnell Cornyn Victory Committee took in $49,600 from Anadarko executives and the company's political action committee from January through March of this year. The committee raised an additional $8,000 from Anadarko executives in October. Anadarko did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The contributions came while Anadarko faced a lawsuit from the government over the contamination of lands stretching from Pennsylvania to Navajo Nation, a territory located primarily in Arizona. The suit placed the responsibility for the contamination with Kerr-McGee, a firm purchased by Anadarko in 2006. The Department of Justice alleged that Kerr-McGee illegally transferred assets to Anadarko to keep them out of the reach of creditors. Anadarko reached a $5 billion settlement with the government in April -- $4.4 billion of which will be used to clean up pollution, with the rest going to injury claims.

A major funder of the Republican Party for more than a decade, Anadarko has not let its recent legal problems deter it from political engagement. So far in the 2014 election cycle, the company's employees and its PAC have contributed more than $160,000 to federal candidates, PACs and political parties.

The company's executives and its PAC have not given money only to Republicans. They also contributed $6,000 to Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and $3,000 to Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), both of whom are up for reelection in oil- and gas-producing states in November.

Anadarko recently launched an advertising blitz in Colorado to oppose ballot initiatives restricting hydraulic fracturing in the state. The company and Noble Energy, its partner in the ad campaign, want to ensure there are few regulations standing in the way of the industry tapping natural gas resources across the state. Five communities in Colorado have already passed measures banning fracking.

In 2014, Anadarko lobbied Congress on a number of energy-related bills, including legislation that would maintain tax breaks for oil companies and legislation that would expedite exports of liquefied natural gas to bolster energy security in Ukraine and Europe, which are both dependent on gas pipelines from Russia.

A spokesman for Cornyn's campaign declined to comment. McConnell's office did not respond to a request for comment.

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