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Many Finance Members Accepted Donations From Top Oil Companies

Hammered by Democrats who want to eliminate some of their tax breaks, oil companies have poured considerable sums into Republican campaign coffers and lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill.

Executives for ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil Corp., BP America Inc., Chevron Corp. and Shell Oil Co. appeared Thursday before the Senate Finance Committee. Many of the panel’s members, particularly Republicans, have received oil company dollars in the last few election cycles.

Senate Finance members have received $195,000 from ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, BP, Chevron and Shell since 2007, according to a CQ MoneyLine analysis of Federal Election Commission filings.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) topped the list in contributions with $32,500, followed by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) with $25,000, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) with $25,000, Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) with $24,500 and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) with $24,000.

Three other Republicans on the committee received contributions: Sen. John Thune (S.D.) received $23,000, Mike Crapo (Idaho) received $23,000 and Finance ranking member Orrin Hatch (Utah) received $2,500.

Four panel Democrats also collected big oil cash. Chairman Max Baucus (Mont.) took in $10,500, Sen. Bob Menendez (N.J.) received $2,000, Sen. Jeff Bingaman (N.M.) received $2,000 and Sen. Kent Conrad (N.D.) received $1,000.

Republicans have, by far, been the primary Congressional beneficiaries of Big Oil’s largesse. The five biggest oil companies gave 97 percent of their contributions to Republicans in the first quarter of this year. In the 2010 election cycle, 83 percent of their contributions went to the GOP.

Exxon Mobil’s political action committee, which was the largest contributor of the top five oil companies this year, donated $235,560 to campaigns, and all but $7,000 went to GOP campaigns.

The oil giant’s PAC gave the $10,000 maximum to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and $5,000 each to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), and House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.).

BP’s filings show it made no contributions after a major explosion on its oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010 led to a months-long oil leak.

But the company resumed its contributions in the first quarter of this year, distributing $19,000, all but $3,000 of which went to Republicans. BP gave $5,000 each to Boehner, McCarthy and Upton, as well as $1,000 to Camp.

The big five oil companies also spent almost $17.9 million on lobbying in the first quarter of this year, compared with just over $17 million in the same period in 2010. ConocoPhillips spent the most with $6.2 million, followed by Shell with $3.9 million, Exxon Mobil with $3 million, Chevron with $2.8 million and BP with $2 million.

The American Petroleum Institute, which represents the big oil companies in Washington, spent $2 million in lobbying in the first quarter of this year, compared with $1.2 million for the same period in 2010.

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