08/08/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

McCain's Oil Money Gusher Spreads Cross Country

On Sunday I wrote about the spike in donations to John McCain from Texas oil executives following a June 16 speech in which he reversed his longstanding opposition to offshore drilling.

In fact, no fewer than 85 Texas-based donors connected to the oil and gas industries gave $1,214,100 to McCain in June, with 73 percent of those donations occurring in the second half of the month. But it wasn't just Texas oil donors getting into gear. Our new report, It's A Gusher, released today by my organization, Campaign Money Watch, reveals that oil executives from around the nation cheered McCain's policy reversal by opening their checkbooks.

The most egregious example? Within about a week of McCain's reversal on offshore drilling, ten Hess executives or family members from New York and New Jersey maxed out to the RNC by writing identical $28,500 checks, for a total of $285,000.

The oil money gushed in from coast to coast, with donations to McCain's victory fund from:

• Gary and Carolyn Chouest ($100,000) from Louisiana. Gary Chouest is CEO of Edison Chouest Offshore
• Stephen Chazen ($5,000) from California, who works for Occidental Petroleum
• Frederic Hamilton ($39,300) from Colorado, the CEO of Hamilton Oil Company
• Onajite Okoloko ($30,000) from Florida, the CEO of Ocean and Oil Services
• Rich and Ann Calhoon ($71,600) from Mississippi. Rich Calhoon is CEO of Pruet Oil.

These increasingly cozy ties between McCain and big oil should come as no surprise, since the Straight Talk Express is full of oil lobbyists.

Campaign Money Watch found that 33 staffers or fundraisers on the McCain campaign have earned $19.3 million in lobbying fees from at least 30 oil and gas industry corporations and associations. Just four top lobbyists for McCain -- Wayne Berman, Charlie Black, John Green, and Steve Phillips -- account for $11.5 million of that total.

Exxon Mobil, which set a record today for the largest quarterly profit by any U.S. corporation, has paid $1.26 million to lobbyists currently working on the McCain campaign.

While economists agree that offshore drilling will have no effect on gas prices for years -- McCain admitted in June that any effect would be primarily psychological -- it is an easy way to boost the already outrageous profits of these oil companies and their executives.

The long and short of it is this:

John McCain's position won't reduce gas prices anytime soon, but it will increase the oil companies' profits. These lobbyists and the donors from Big Oil may want you to believe they think John McCain is the best candidate for the country, but what is really happening is that their financial future is at stake. He's the best candidate for Big Oil. That's why the checkbooks are out.