Dr. Mehmet Oz speaks at a campaign rally

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mehmet Oz speaks at a rally in Pennsburg, Pennsylvania on November 7, 2022. (Photo: Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images)

Big Oil Spent $13 Million to Boost Republicans in These 3 Toss-Up Senate Races

"Oil and gas executives and other powerful corporate interests want to keep us home by spreading misinformation and contributing to politicians supporting voter suppression efforts," said a Greenpeace campaigner.

As voters across the United States headed to the polls Tuesday, a Greenpeace analysis found that the powerful oil and gas industry has spent nearly $13 million--averaging roughly $4.3 million per race--to boost Republicans vying for Senate seats in Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Nevada, key battleground states that could tip the balance of power in Congress.

According to Greenpeace's breakdown of campaign finance data, Big Oil has donated more than $5.4 million to party committees and super PACs backing Dr. Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, $5.3 million to bolster Herschel Walker in Georgia, and $2 million to support Adam Laxalt in Nevada, each of whom has signaled they would oppose climate action if elected. During his tenure as Nevada's attorney general, Laxalt--who has ties to the Koch network--worked with other GOP officials to shield ExxonMobil from a fraud investigation.

"Oil and gas executives and other powerful corporate interests want to keep us home by spreading misinformation and contributing to politicians supporting voter suppression efforts," said Ebony Twilley Martin, co-executive director of Greenpeace USA. "We must stay the course against unprecedented millionaire money funding extremist candidates, election overthrowers, and rampant disinformation."

Total campaign spending on state and federal elections this cycle is projected to reach and surpass $16.7 billion, according to OpenSecrets--the most money ever spent on midterm contests in U.S. history. The record spending has been fueled by huge billionaire donations and the continued dominance of super PACs, which can raise and spend unlimited sums on elections.

The oil and gas industry, which has seen its profits explode over the past year, is one of many corporate interests investing heavily in the 2022 races, which have massive implications for democracy and the planet. In addition to threatening cuts to Social Security and Medicare, Republicans have suggested they will attempt to slash key climate investments if they retake control of Congress.

Greenpeace's analysis shows that 20 fossil fuel firms and trade groups have donated more than $52 million overall to Republican super PACs and party committees this cycle, with much of the money flowing into highly competitive districts in Nevada, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere across the country.

In the closest races, Greenpeace found that the oil and gas industry has spent $490,000 per House seat.

"Big Oil's spending was so high that in 11 out of the 13 races analyzed, oil and gas-attributed spending outweighed the amount that one or both candidates raised from small donors (donors who contributed $200 or less)," the climate group found.

In a statement, Martin said that Tuesday's election represents "a turning point for our country, and the urgency of the climate crisis demands that all of us make our voice heard."

"This election puts us at a critical crossroads: one path sends us towards climate catastrophe, the weakening of our democracy, and more injustice," Martin warned. "The other path, which I am calling on us to take today, is a chance to improve our lives and protect our planet together."

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