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Today's Top News
Halliburton Continues to Flood Lawmakers With Contributions After Oil Spill
Halliburton, the company once headed by former Republican Vice President Dick Cheney contributed $15,500 to federal candidates during June, according to a Center for Responsive Politics review of their political action committee's most recent campaign finance filing.
That amount represents the third largest month of donations by the PAC this election cycle.
The giving comes at a time when the Texas-based company is weathering a political storm for its involvement on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that exploded on April 20 and sunk in the Gulf of Mexico, causing a massive amount oil to spill into the surrounding waters. Investigations are currently underway to determine how and why the spill occurred -- and who should be held responsible -- by Congress and the Department of Justice.
In May, Halliburton's PAC contributed $17,000 to federal lawmakers -- the most since last September. And during the second quarter of 2010, Halliburton has contributed $46,500 to federal lawmakers -- about one-third of the entire sum it has donated this election cycle, the Center found.
Last month, the energy company cut checks to 10 federal politicians, the Center found. And politicians aren't eager to talk about the money.
Rebeca Chapa, a spokeswoman for Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D-Texas) -- the sole Democrat among the company's beneficiaries last month -- declined to comment for this story.
And of the nine Republican beneficiaries, just two responded to requests for comment.
Contributions from BP, which was operating the now-sunken oil rig, have been viewed as undesirable by many politicians in the past two months, as OpenSecrets Blog previously reported. Yet the Republicans that were reached Friday did not view the money from Halliburton as toxic.
"I welcome the support of all who are interested in job creation," Arkansas Republican congressional candidate Tim Griffin, who received a $1,000 contribution from Halliburton's PAC last month, said in a statement e-mailed to OpenSecrets Blog. "The Fayetteville Shale is critical to job creation in Arkansas's Second District, and Halliburton is a player there in developing our natural gas resource.
"While the investigation continues, I have been abundantly clear that BP and other responsible parties must bear the entire financial burden for the environmental and economic catastrophe in the Gulf," Griffin added.
Similarly, California Republican U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina, who received $5,000 from Halliburton's PAC in June and received another $2,500 from the PAC back in April, did not shy away from the association with Halliburton.
"Our policy is to evaluate contributions on a case-by-case basis," said Andrea Saul, Fiorina's press secretary e-mailed in a statement to OpenSecrets Blog. "Carly has not and will not take donations from BP. We make these decisions based on facts, not speculation, and therefore, at this point, have accepted the contribution from Halliburton."
The Center found that the other federal-level Republicans to benefit from Halliburton's cash last month included two members of the Louisiana delegation, two members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, one member of the House Natural Resources Committee and several high-profile challengers and open seat candidates.
These recipients were:
- U.S. Senate candidate from Colorado Jane Norton: $2,500
- U.S. Senate candidate from North Dakota John Hoeven: $1,000
- Colorado congressional candidate Cory Gardner: $1,000
- Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Penn.), a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee: $1,000
- Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Texas), ranking member of the House Science Committee and a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee: $1,000
- Rep. John Fleming (R-La.), a member of the House Natural Resources and Armed Services Committees: $1,000
- Rep. Joseph Cao (R-La.), a member of the House Homeland Security and Transportation and Infrastructure Committees: $1,000
Halliburton's PAC ended the quarter with $144,600 in cash on hand. It has contributed $148,100 to federal candidates since January 2009, mostly to Republicans.
Halliburton contractors performed cementing operations to seal the offshore oil well. Some have suggested that faulty cementing contributed to the spill, although Halliburton itself has maintained that its work is not to blame.
Teresa Wong, manager of public relations for Halliburton, said the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico "has had no impact on how the PAC members are distributing the funds."
"Halliburton's PAC, supported by the voluntary contributions of company employees, makes contributions to candidates and elected officials from the states where our employees live and work and to those whose business views are aligned with efforts that support the oil and gas industry," Wong added.
Center for Responsive Politics Political Action Committee Researcher Spencer MacColl contributed to this report.