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Federal Contributions from Political Action Committee of Beleaguered Oil Giant BP Slow to a Trickle

by Michael Beckel

Oil giant BP's political action committee didn't spend a penny on federal campaign contributions during the month of June, according to a Center for Responsive Politics review of its latest campaign finance report filed today.

Nevertheless, the PAC still contributed $27,300 to state-level candidates. All 80 of these recipients last month were from Indiana. About 53 percent of the money benefited Indiana Democrats, while 47 percent benefited Indiana Republicans. This sum represents an increase of 230 percent above the $8,250 in contributions to 10 state-level candidates in California that the PAC made in May.

During June, the PAC reported taking in more than $19,800, and it ended the month with $299,500 in cash on hand. Since January 2009, BP's PAC has donated more than $79,000 to federal candidates, by the Center's tally.

Ever since the BP-operated Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig exploded, sunk and created one of the largest oil spills in U.S. history in late April, the company has been at the center of intense political scrutiny. Its executives have testified before Congress. The Department of Justice has launched a criminal probe. And only last week did the company finally find a way to cap the leak to stop new oil from seeping into the Gulf of Mexico.

In the wake of the oil spill, many politicians sought to distance themselves from the firm -- with some going so far as to refund BP contributions, refuse BP contributions or donate the amount of money they previously received from BP to charity.

As OpenSecrets Blog reported last month, House Energy Committee member Rep. Charlie Gonzalez (D-Texas), the sole federal recipient of BP cash during May, pledged to not accept the check from BP. Similar action has been taken by other politicians as well -- although some lawmakers have defended the company and the oil industry after the disastrous spill.

BP's prowess extends beyond political contributions. In 2009, the company was one of the biggest spenders on federal lobbying, investing nearly $16 million to ensure its voice was heard. That amount was nearly three-and-a-half times as much as it spent on federal lobbying activities two years earlier.

A spokesperson for BP could not be immediately reached for comment.

Center for Responsive Politics communications intern Andrew Kreighbaum contributed to this report.

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