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Here before us is a Soviet archival document,* a top secret report by a communist apparatchik who had received a delegation of US Senators led by Joseph Biden in 1979. After describing routine arms control discussions, it quotes Biden as telling the Soviets off-record that he did not really care about the persecution of Russian dissidents. He and other Senators might raise human rights issues with their Soviet counterparts, but only to be seen by the public as defenders of human rights, not to have those problems really solved. They would happily take no for an answer.Vadim V. Zagladin, the then deputy head of the International Department of the CPSU Central Committee (the organization formerly known as the Comintern), wrote in the report:

The delegation did not officially raise the issue of human rights during the negotiations. Biden said they did not want ‘to spoil the atmosphere with problems which are bound to cause distrust in our relations.’ However, during the breaks between the sessions the senators passed to us several letters concerning these or those ‘refuseniks’.

Refuseniks were one of the best known groups of oppressed citizens in the USSR at that time: thousands of Jews who were refused exit permissions to emigrate to Israel on various trumped-up pretexts.

Unofficially, Biden and [Senator Richard] Lugar said that, in the end of the day, they were not so much concerned with having a problem of this or that citizen solved as with showing to the American public that they do care for ‘human rights’. They must prove to their voters that they are ‘effective in fulfilling their wishes’. In other words, the collocutors directly admitted that what is happening is a kind of a show, that they absolutely do not care for the fate of most so-called dissidents.

In the same conversation, Biden asked us to ensure that senators’ appeals on those issues are not left unanswered – even if we just reply that the letter is received but we cannot do anything.

Like most secret documents of the Cold War years, this report still remains classified in Russia’s official archives. However, a copy is available in the Gorbachev Foundation Archive in Moscow, where it was deposited by Mr. Zagladin – who himself works for the Gorbachev Foundation since the collapse of the USSR. Under pressure from the Kremlin, the archive had to limit the access to some of its documentary collections. However, Zagladin’s documents (Inventory 3/1) – including the one quoted above – were still available to researchers a few years ago, and that is how we obtained copies.

Of course, when people’s reputations are at stake, a natural question is: how far can we believe a document written by a communist? Other things being equal, if it is Zagladin’s word against a word of a U.S. Senator, one would surely believe the latter. Hopefully, Sen. Biden and Sen. Lugar will fairly soon provide the public with their own accounts of that episode, and then we will be able to compare.

Yet, we should not forget that these top secret documents were never intended to see the light of the day. They were written not for us, but for a very narrow circle of Zagladin’s communist bosses. Indeed, it was his job to deceive simple mortals; but deceiving the Politburo would be both pointless and dangerous. After reading and analyzing hundreds of suchlike reports by Zagladin, one cannot but conclude that he always portrayed his foreign collocutors as tougher, not softer, than they really were. That was natural, because that was safer for Zagladin himself. It was his job to cultivate foreign contacts, which made him to a degree responsible for their behavior. If he reported that someone was pro-Soviet and then the man turned out to be anti-Soviet, Zagladin would be held responsible. That is why he always preferred to err on the other side.

In any case, diplomacy is not so much about what you mean as how you are understood. If you go to Moscow sincerely determined to fight like a lion for human rights, and then leave the enemy with an impression that you don’t care – this is a monumental failure. It hardly matters what Senators Biden and Lugar actually thought about Soviet human rights abuses in the first place. If they really cared for human rights and meant to pressure the Soviets – so much the worse. Be that as it may, they were understood as the document reads. The message which the enemy received from them was this: we don’t care for those whom you keep torturing and rotting in prisons, but we would appreciate if you help us improve our public image.

There was more to it than simply the betrayal of dissidents; for this involved the question of the Senators’ own independence. Indeed, they should have known that every Soviet official who dealt with high-ranking foreigners would see them not as partners, but as potential targets for recruitment, potential collaborators or fellow-travelers. On such occasions, the Soviets always searched for a way to corrupt you. The worst thing you could do was to show the enemy that you depend on him in any way. For any Western politician, telling the Soviets that his public image depends on their good will was the first step to becoming an agent of influence, de facto if not de jure.

Today, it is a fact rather than a possibility that the next U.S. administration will have to lead the free world in the Second Cold War. Respectively, the staunchest critics of Russia’s authoritarianism from recent years – Senators McCain and Biden – are now at the center stage of the electoral campaign. Yet, fighting and winning this new Cold War will require more than just rhetoric. In order to work out correct strategies and tactics, it is more important than ever to analyze the lessons and mistakes of the first Cold War.

* [Top secret document is printed below]

9-20 April 1979 [?]The memo by Vadim V. Zagladin, deputy head of the International Department of the CPSU Central Committee

ON THE BASIC CONTENTS OF TALKS WITH THE US SENATORS

During the official negotiations with the delegation of US senators led by J. Biden and the unofficial talks with the delegation’s head and some members, our collocutors expressed a number of considerations of certain interest.

1. J. Biden, the head of the delegation, said that the mutual understanding that the SALT-2 treaty should be ratified is, basically, achieved in the Senate Commission for Foreign Affairs. However, four reservations should be formulated. The contents of those reservations have already been reported to us by our embassy in Washington.

While commenting on the contents of those reservations, Biden said they should not worry the Soviet Union because they do not concern the substance of the treaty. The only reservation which, in his opinion, may cause our ‘displeasure’ says that the SALT-2 should not prevent the US from providing the defence capabilities of their allies. In practice, the collocutor said, this is a way to confirm the US’ preparedness to keep supplying European NATO members with modern US weapons, with the exception, naturally, of those types which are covered by the treaty itself.

The Senate Commission for Foreign Affairs is going to conclude the consideration of the treaty by the end of September. However, the Senate itself is starting to work on this problem later, possibly on the eve of the Christmas.

2. As for the problem of supplying Western Europe with new types of weapons, including the Pershing missiles etc.;, Biden said that no final decisions had been taken on this issue yet. Those decisions will be taken in December. And a lot there, he emphasised, will depend on the position of the Soviet Union.

During unofficial talks, Biden noted rather cynically that he personally and other members of the US Senate do not very much care about the Europeans’ concerns. The main area of the US citizens’ interest is the security of the US itself. Nevertheless, the feelings of our allies also ‘concern us’, he said. ‘We cannot stop supporting our allies, because if we did that, we would have weakened America’s own security’. Therefore, Biden continued, the Americans will probably have to solve the question of the supplies of the new types of armaments to Western Europe positively in principle. In any case, the majority in the Senate supports that, he said.

Then Biden meaningfully emphasised (and he was actively supported by Senator Prior here) that if the SALT-2 treaty is ratified before December, and if the Soviet Union makes some demonstrative steps in favour of further disarmament progress before the NATO meeting, the European countries probably may refrain from deploying new types of American weapons in Europe, or at least, postpone the decisions taken on this issue.

To our question on what exactly steps are meant here, Prior answered that, for example, the Soviet government might state it is not going to increase the number of SS-20 missiles any further.

3. Something that caught our attention was that this time, in both official and unofficial talks, the senators would raise more questions about the prospects, about the SALT-3, than the SALT-2. Unofficially, Biden said that ‘the question of the future is more significant to the more serious senators – although not to all – than the question of the present treaty. The thing is (he explained) that many in the Senate consider the present treaty as a kind of an intermediate step, a booster for the further reduction of the arms race. Many in the US are very serious about this, believing it is possible to negotiate the reduction of the level of military confrontation with the Soviet Union. However, at the same time, many people are uncertain whether the USSR will agree to further serious steps of that kind.’

Most questions concerned two subjects. Firstly, whether the USSR would agree to a significant reduction of the number of nuclear missiles at the next stage (the senators were particularly interested in heavy missiles in this connection). Secondly, whether the USSR would agree to the explansion of control and the introduction of ‘more effective methods’ (for example, the ‘black boxes’, which were discussed during the negotiations on the prohibition of underground nuclear tests).

It emerged during that talks that, in spite of all huge work we are doing about this, many statements of Comrade L. I. Brezhnev were unknown to the majority of the senators – for example, his statement that the Soviet Union was not going to make the first nuclear strike against anyone. The relevant texts were given to them, along with some other documents of the CPSU and the Soviet government.

4. It should also be noted that, this time, the delegation did not officially raise the issue of human rights during the negotiations. Biden said the did not want ‘to spoil the atmosphere with problems which are bound to cause distrust in our relations.’ However, during the breaks between the sessions the senators passed to us several letters concerning these or those ‘refuseniks’.

Unofficially, Biden and Lugar said that, in the end of the day, they were not so much concerned with having a problem of this or that citizen solved as with showing to the American public that they do care for ‘human rights’. They must prove to their voters that they are ‘effective in fulfilling their wishes’. In other words, the collocutors directly admitted that what is happening is a kind of a show, that they absolutely do not care for the fate of most so-called dissidents.

In the same conversation, Biden asked us to ensure that senators’ appeals on those issues are not left unanswered – even if we just reply that the letter is received but we cannot do anything. According to Biden, letters of this kind – if they are not addressed to the highest representatives of the Soviet state – sometimes remain unanswered.

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Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin on Saturday accused Democrat Barack Obama of “palling around with terrorists” because of his association with a former 1960s radical, stepping up the campaign’s effort to portray Obama as unacceptable to American voters.Palin’s reference was to Bill Ayers, one of the founders of the group the Weather Underground. Its members took credit for bombings, including nonfatal explosions at the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol, during the tumultuous Vietnam War era four decades ago. Obama, who was a child when the group was active, served on a charity board with Ayers several years ago and has denounced his radical views and activities.

The Republican campaign, falling behind Obama in polls, plans to make attacks on Obama’s character a centerpiece of presidential candidate John McCain’s message with a month remaining before Election Day.

Palin told a group of donors at a private airport, “Our opponent … is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough, that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country.” She also said, “This is not a man who sees America as you see America and as I see America.”

Palin, Alaska’s governor, said that donors on a greeting line had encouraged her and McCain to get tougher on Obama. She said an aide then advised her, “Sarah, the gloves are off, the heels are on, go get to them.”

The escalated effort to attack Obama’s character dovetails with TV ads by outside groups questioning Obama’s ties to Ayers, convicted former Obama fundraiser Antoin “Tony” Rezko and Obama’s former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Ayers is a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He and Obama live in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood and served together on the board of the Woods Fund, a Chicago-based charity that develops community groups to help the poor. Obama left the board in December 2002.

Obama was the first chairman of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a school-reform group of which Ayers was a founder. Ayers also held a meet-the-candidate event at his home for Obama when Obama first ran for office in the mid-1990s.

Palin cited a New York Times story published Saturday that detailed Obama’s relationship with Ayers. In an interview with CBS News earlier in the week, Palin didn’t name any newspapers or magazines that had shaped her view of the world.

Summing up its findings, the Times wrote: “A review of records of the schools project and interviews with a dozen people who know both men, suggest that Mr. Obama, 47, has played down his contacts with Mr. Ayers, 63. But the two men do not appear to have been close. Nor has Mr. Obama ever expressed sympathy for the radical views and actions of Mr. Ayers, whom he has called ‘somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8.'”

Earlier Saturday, Palin spent 35 minutes at a diner in Greenwood Village where she met with Blue Star Moms, a support group of families whose sons or daughters are serving in the armed forces. Reporters were allowed in the diner for less than five minutes before being ushered out by the campaign.

Palin, whose 19-year-old son, Track, deployed last month as a private with an Army combat team, was overheard at one point commiserating with one of the mothers: “Any time I ask my son how he’s doing, he says, ‘Mom, I’m in the Army now.'”

Taking one question from reporters about competing in battleground states, Palin repeated her wish that the campaign had not pulled out of Michigan, a prominent state in presidential elections where Obama leads by double-digit percentage points in recent polls.

“As I said the other day, I would sure love to get to run to Michigan and make sure that Michigan knows that we haven’t given up there,” she said. “We care much about Michigan and every other state. I wish there were more hours in the day so that we could travel all over this great country and start speaking to more Americans. So, not worried about it but just desiring more time and, you know, to put more effort into each one of these states.”

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In the weeks preceding yesterday’s vice presidential debate, one might have been forgiven for suspecting a vast right-wing conspiracy to lower expectations for Sarah Palin. A platitude-filled interview with Katie Couric, spoofed on “Saturday Night Live” and lamented by unnamed but oft-quoted “top advisers to John McCain,” seemed to underscore the impression that the attractive Alaska governor was all style and no substance – and certainly no match for a Senate heavyweight like Joe Biden.

Palin did nothing to discourage such deflationary talk. For instance, she suggested that she was overmatched by the experienced Biden when she said that she’d been listening to his “speeches since I was in the second grade.” So pronounced did the underselling of Palin become that even the Obama campaign felt compelled to bolster the case for the really “terrific debater” who would “give a great performance next Thursday.”

Alas for the Obama camp, their spin was more precise. Time and again in their Thursday night debate, Palin not only stood her ground against Biden but, on issue after issue, outperformed her Democratic counterpart. This political pit-bull, it turns out, has bark and bite.

It didn’t hurt Palin that Biden seemed determined to rehearse the more dubious charges of the Obama campaign. Several times, Biden suggested that John McCain had pushed for a special tax break for oil companies like Exxon Mobil at the expense of tax relief for the middle class, a charge that first aired in an Obama TV ad earlier this summer. At the time, the non-partisan website PoltiFact.com, maintained by the St. Petersburg Times, demonstrated that it was a serious distortion of McCain’s support for a broad reduction in corporate taxes.

Palin went one better. Not only did she identify by name Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, but she went on to point out, accurately, that Obama himself had voted for the 2005 energy bill that granted tax breaks to oil companies, and contrasted it with her own much-publicized battles with oil companies in Alaska. (Palin was too nice to mention that Obama’s crusading against Exxon hasn’t prevented him from pocketing more than $30,000 from Exxon-Mobil employees.) A minor issue in the context of the wider debate, it nonetheless established straightaway that Palin not only understood the details of policy – something that her recent televised flops had given cause to doubt – but would not be bullied on politics.

And, indeed, she wasn’t. Take foreign policy. As the reigning chairman and longtime member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Biden was thought to have a clear advantage on the subject. It was just one of the assumptions demolished in the course of the debate. When Biden tried to defend Obama’s record on the Iraq war, Palin countered with some inconvenient praise, noting that Biden had earlier “opposed the move [Obama] made to try to cut off funding for the troops and I respect you for that.”

Going on the attack, Palin then asked how Biden could defend Obama’s position “especially with your son in the National Guard.” The reference to Beau Biden, a captain in Delaware’s National Guard, was particularly clever, coming as it did from Biden’s very own political playbook: During the primaries last August, Biden had scorned his Democratic opponents for voting against funding for the troops “to make a political point,” memorably adding that “there’s no political point worth my son’s life.” He couldn’t have imagined then how the line would come back to haunt him.

To shift the topic, Biden reached for a standard Democratic talking point. Iraq, he insisted, was a distraction from the real war on terror. Palin again gave no ground. Democrats’ claims to the contrary notwithstanding, she countered, Iraq is indeed a central front in the war on terror. “And as for who coined that central war on terror being in Iraq, it was General Petraeus and al Qaeda,” said Palin, amusingly pointing out that this was the “only thing that they’re ever going to agree on.” Against Palin’s pointed outline of the stakes in Iraq, Biden’s promise to withdraw troops in adherence with a political timeline seemed especially out of touch. And although Palin did not raise the point directly, viewers were left to wonder: How would President Obama make good on his promises to defeat al-Qaeda when he and his running mate refuse to recognize Iraq as a key battleground in the war on terror?

Palin proved even more adept in pricking the Democratic ticket’s pretensions to bi-partisanship. When Biden suggested that an Obama presidency would end polarization in Washington, Palin noted that Obama cast some 96 percent of his votes “solely along party line.” As Biden strained to play the loyal surrogate, Palin not only called attention to McCain’s record of breaking with his own party, but proudly boasted that he “never asked me to check my opinions at the door.”

Biden had hardly burnished his bi-partisan credentials when he revealed that his great insight as a senator was to recognize that judicial nominees should not be evaluated on their service record or qualifications but on the basis of their political ideology, citing as a putative achievement his successful 1987 campaign to defeat the Supreme Court nomination of Robert Bork. Those who recall Biden’s role in misrepresenting the record of Judge Bork – a Yale law professor and a member of the prestigious Court of Appeals whose great failing was to be a judicial conservative – might wonder how it supports his pledge to usher in an era of post-partisanship.

The discrepancy was not lost on Palin. In one of her most effective lines of the evening, she rebuffed Biden’s partisan attempts to tie McCain to the Bush administration by observing that “for a ticket that wants to talk about change and looking into the future, there’s just too much finger-pointing backwards to ever make us believe that that’s where you’re going.” As with so many other times in the debate, Biden had no compelling answer.

Nor could the Washington veteran match Palin’s engaging presence, which ultimately turned the debate in her favor. Charming, gracious, and politically fluent, she deftly inserted populist references to “Main Streeters like me” and even forced a crack in Biden’s steely façade when she premised a rejoinder with a ringing, “Say it ain’t so, Joe!”

Biden, by contrast, was stiff and hectoring, with his recurrent admonition – “Let me say that again” – calling to mind all the pompousness of the entrenched political class. One almost expected the Senator to address himself in the third person, which in fact he did, when he assured his interviewer, Gwen Ifill, that “no one in the United States Senate has been a better friend to Israel than Joe Biden.” That is debatable. More certain is that Joe Biden has had better debates.

Presidential campaigns rarely hinge on political debates, and yesterday’s duel is unlikely to reverse this history. It does, however, confirm a point that until yesterday seemed increasingly uncertain. If John McCain loses the election, it won’t be because of Sarah Palin.

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Races to Watch IV: Money Flowing from Oil and Gas

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The oil and gas industry, under the spotlight this fall with energy at the forefront of political discourse, isn’t hesitating to put some of its record profits into the hands of candidates who support its cause (or those it’s seeking to convert). So far this election cycle, the oil and gas industry has given $12.3 million total to congressional candidates. Oil giants Chevron, Exxon Mobil and BP, each of which is among the top 100 donors of all time a (including employee and PAC donations), are among those companies that are attempting to sway congressional races.

Republicans have historically been the industry’s favorite, bringing in as much as 82 percent of the contributions from oil and gas companies in the 2006 election cycle. Of the $12.3 million the industry has given to congressional candidates this cycle, Republicans have collected 75 percent. Nine of the top 10 Senate candidates and eight of the top 10 House candidates who have received the most oil money this cycle are Republicans.

The energy-related issues playing a role in the congressional races this year are numerous. Gas prices hit a new record, and renewable energy is now competing with oil and gas for subsidies. The ban on offshore drilling is likely to be lifted, and many candidates for Congress, particularly those from coastal states, are using this as a major part of their platform.

“I think energy is a big issue on people’s minds mainly because of the rise in cost of gasoline, and the rise in cost of home utility bills, especially electricity,” said Charles Ebinger, director of the Energy Security Initiative at the Brookings Institution. “The electricity bills in some northeastern states could go up to $1,500 a month this winter. These two things are perceived to be hitting people’s pocketbooks the hardest. This is why issues like offshore drilling and nuclear energy are being discussed much more widely.”

There is a lot at stake for the oil and gas industry this year–and for the politicians who hope to keep or gain a seat in Congress. The nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics has identified the candidates who have received the most money from oil and gas interests in this election cycle, and Capital Eye selected a few races to more deeply examine the impact of well-digger dollars on politics.

“Oil and gas money always plays a prominent role in politics, because there is so much of it,” said Daniel J. Weiss, an energy and climate expert at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. “Oil company lobbyists are trying to protect their record profits by opposing an end to industry tax breaks. They’re giving a lot of money to people who support those tax breaks.”

Here are a few oil-supported races to watch:

Louisiana Senate Race

Mary L. Landrieu (D)*
Total Raised: $9,493,299
Total from oil and gas companies: $305,950
John Neely Kennedy (R)
Total Raised: $5,622,089
Total from oil and gas companies: $117,900

This election cycle, only Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) have received more money than Louisiana incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu from the oil and gas industry. Her nearly $306,000 haul is a particularly noteworthy accomplishment given that Landrieu is a Democrat and the oil and gas industry heavily favors Republicans. Landrieu’s opponent, Louisiana State Treasurer John Kennedy, hasn’t exactly been ignored by the industry, however, having pocketed more than $117,000 himself. Because the oil and gas industry plays such a big role in Louisiana, constituents there may not see the contributions as being tainted, the way constituents in other parts of the country might.

“Oil and gas provide the backbone for the Louisiana economy,” said Scott Schneider, spokesman for the Landrieu campaign. “It’s the source of thousands of jobs in the state and on the Gulf Coast.” According to the state government, Louisiana is the number-one producer of crude oil and the number-two producer of natural gas among the 50 states. As a hub of the energy industry, and one of the few states where offshore drilling is permitted, oil money has always had a significant role in Louisiana politics.

The main reason that the oil and gas industry has been so supportive of Landrieu may be because of her action on offshore drilling. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Landrieu became the first Louisiana lawmaker to push through legislation allowing the Pelican State to recoup lost revenue by sharing royalties from offshore drilling, according to Congressional Quarterly. During fiscal year 2007, Louisiana received $23.1 million from offshore leases–and the state expects this number to go up dramatically in the next decade–and has put the funds toward coastal restoration. Those receiving a piece of the offshore pie have not been shy about contributing to Landrieu: oil rig operator Edison Chouest Offshore ranks fourth among her top contributors between 2003 and 2008.

Landrieu can use every dollar she can raise, as the she seems to be the only Senate incumbent that Democrats fear will lose a seat. “The Republican Party was a beneficiary of the demographic shakeup statewide, there is no question about that,” said Thomas Langston, a political scientist at Tulane University in New Orleans. “Yellow dog Dems have been slow to die in Louisiana, and Katrina gave them a push into the grave, because Republicans realize they can win as Republicans.” Another upshot for challenger Kennedy’s chances is the high approval rating for Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal. In addition, President Bush’s approval rating in Louisiana is higher than the national average. However, it may be harder for Kennedy to lay his claim to the GOP since he only became a Republican in 2007.

Kennedy, too, supports offshore drilling, and his campaign said he’d like to see it expanded to end the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, spokesman Kyle Plotkin said. “John Kennedy supports drilling everywhere, including the Outer Continental Shelf and [the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve], developing oil shale in the West, investing in clean and renewable energy and conservation,” he said.

North Carolina Senate Race

Elizabeth Dole (R)*
Total Raised: $11,271,438
Total from oil and gas companies: $124,527
Kay R. Hagan (D)
Total Raised: $3,059,918
Total from oil and gas companies: $5,550

The oil and gas industry has given incumbent Elizabeth Dole 22 times more money than Democratic challenger Kay Hagan. Of the candidates for Senate this election cycle, Dole is among the top 10 recipients of oil and gas money–an obvious industry favorite. But despite her enormous financial advantage in this area (and overall), this race supports the notion that money can’t buy everything, as these two political veterans are now racing neck-and-neck to Election Day. Recent polls show that this is going to be a close race, and one where the energy debate is a priority for both campaigns.

Both Hagan and Dole have come out in support of offshore drilling, but this is a reversal for both candidates. Before this summer, Dole and Hagan supported a federal moratorium on oil exploration off North Carolina’s coast. Historically, many lawmakers have been staunchly opposed to offshore drilling for environmental concerns and the damaging effects it would have on tourism, but sky-high gas prices have caused politicians to re-consider their position.

Part of the energy debate strategy of both candidates in this race has been accusing the other of profiting off of the oil and gas industry. The Dole campaign ran an ad accusing Hagan herself of owning wells and profiting every time North Carolinians go to the gas pump. The News & Observer called the ad inaccurate, because it’s Hagan’s husband who has investments in companies that own domestic wells, and the Hagans do not own any wells themselves. The Hagan campaign shot back by broadcasting that Bob Dole, Elizabeth Dole’s husband and a former Senate majority leader, has a $1 million stake in an offshore hedge fund that speculates on oil. According to the Hagan campaign, the Dole hedge fund investment raises a question: whether Dole’s vote against more regulation of hedge funds that speculate on the oil market was motivated by personal financial gain.

While both campaigns are up in arms trying to prove that the other’s personal finances make them beholden to Big Oil, there is no question about who is receiving more contributions. Not only has Dole received more than Hagan this election cycle by leaps and bounds, she’s raked in more than $277,700 from the oil and gas industry during her Senate career. Since her first run for Senate in 2002, oil and gas companies have been among Dole’s top 20 industry supporters. They have no effect on her legislative decisions, though, said Dan McLagan, spokesman for the Dole campaign. “Sen. Dole has never been beholden to any donor,” he said, citing Dole’s co-sponsorship of the Clean Energy Investment Act, a bill that would establish a government-run bank to assist in the financing, and facilitate the commercial use, of clean energy and energy-efficient technologies within the United States.

Where these candidates stand on energy issues will come into play for North Carolina voters on Election Day. “Working families spent the entire month of August having to pay more and more for gas,” said Colleen Flanagan, spokeswoman for the Hagan campaign. “People in Greenville, Asheville and Raleigh, they aren’t in the Senate listening to the back and forth. They’re feeling it at the cash register.”

New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District

Harry Teague (D)
Total Raised: $1,529,892
Total from oil and gas companies: $68,700
Edward Tinsley (R)
Total Raised: $1,091,355
Total from oil and gas companies: $43,950

Rep. Steve Pearce is retiring from his 2nd District seat to run for Senate, leaving it to candidates Harry Teague (D) and Ed Tinsley (R) to vie for his spot. The 2nd District, which sprawls over half of New Mexico, is littered with thousands of oil wells. Teague, like Louisiana’s Sen. Mary Landrieu, is an anomaly for being a Democrat who’s received more money from the oil and gas industry than his Republican opponent. However, party titles in this race are deceptive; it’s really more about energy politics. Both candidates have ties to the oil industry: Teague owns an oil field services company, and Tinsley is an oil investor (and restaurant owner). Tinsley is favored slightly, but Teague is raising more money and it’s stacking up to be pretty competitive.

Teague is not concerned about his professional background in the oil industry, “My experience in the energy industry is an asset. I’ve worked in the oil fields, but I also helped to bring wind farms and nuclear energy facilities to New Mexico,” Teague said in an e-mail from his spokesman. “The only way we will solve the energy crisis is by drawing on all of these sources to become energy independent, and as a member of the majority caucus in Congress, I will be able to help shape a comprehensive solution to our energy problem.”

The oil industry is the top industry supporter for Teague and ranks second for Tinsley. Teaco Energy Company (Teague’s own company) accounts for nearly half of the money he received from the oil and gas industry, at $32,200. It should be noted that this is not money Teague is giving to his own candidacy; it’s all donations from company employees, according to campaign finance records. However, both Teague and Tinsley have injected their campaign chest with a sizable chunk of their own money: $768,900 and $235,000, respectively, through June.

“Being tied to the oil industry is not as damaging in this district as it would be in another district,” said Joe Monahan, a New Mexico political blogger. “[Teague] is a good candidate. He is going to get Republican votes and Democrat votes who might otherwise crossover. It’s a district where there are more registered Democrats than Republicans, but those Democrats have been crossing over for many years to vote for Republican congressional candidates.”

Normally an oilman running on the Democratic ticket–who could alienate Democrats with his industry ties and Republicans with his social values–would be something of a political misfit, but in this region of New Mexico, Teague might be just right. “He would not be as competitive as he is today, if he were more liberal,” said Michael Rocca, a political scientist at the University of New Mexico.

CRP Researcher Douglas Weber contributed to this report.

*Indicates incumbent

Campaign Fuel: House candidates getting the most from the oil and gas industry

Name Race Incumbent/Challenger/
Open Seat
Total
Dan Boren (D) Oklahoma 02 Incumbent
$154,900
Joe Barton (R) Texas 06 Incumbent
$146,441
Mike Conaway (R) Texas 11 Incumbent
$128,450
Roy Blunt (R) Missouri 07 Incumbent
$108,100
Charles J. Melancon (D) Louisiana 03 Incumbent
$99,600
Mary Fallin (R) Oklahoma 05 Incumbent
$94,800
Charles W. Boustany Jr (R) Louisiana 07 Incumbent
$92,000
John Culberson (R) Texas 07 Incumbent
$91,600
Todd Tiahrt (R) Kansas 04 Incumbent
$90,500
Kay Granger (R) Texas 12 Incumbent
$86,250
John Sullivan (R) Oklahoma 01 Incumbent
$84,000
Randy Neugebauer (R) Texas 19 Incumbent
$79,950
Jim Matheson (D) Utah 02 Incumbent
$76,347
Chet Edwards (D) Texas 17 Incumbent
$72,750
Harry Teague (D) New Mexico 02 Open Seat
$68,700
Tom Cole (R) Oklahoma 04 Incumbent
$65,200
Peter Graham Olson (R) Texas 22 Challenger
$60,600
Gene Green (D) Texas 29 Incumbent
$59,500
Gregg Harper (R) Mississippi 03 Open Seat
$58,500
Pete Sessions (R) Texas 32 Incumbent
$56,800

Totals based on data released electronically by the Federal Election Commission on Sept. 2, 2008.

Senate candidates getting the most from the oil and gas industry

Name State Incumbent/Challenger/
Open Seat
Total
John Cornyn (R) Texas Incumbent
$853,300
James M. Inhofe (R) Oklahoma Incumbent
$349,750
Mary L. Landrieu (D) Louisiana Incumbent
$305,950
Mitch McConnell (R) Kentucky Incumbent
$299,450
Steve Pearce (R) New Mexico Open Seat
$283,034
Pat Roberts (R) Kansas Incumbent
$174,450
Lamar Alexander (R) Tennessee Incumbent
$164,350
Bob Schaffer (R) Colorado Open Seat
$150,400
Ted Stevens (R) Alaska Incumbent
$127,700
Norm Coleman (R) Minnesota Incumbent
$127,500
Elizabeth Dole (R) North Carolina Incumbent
$124,527
John Neely Kennedy (R) Louisiana Challenger
$117,900
Max Baucus (D) Montana Incumbent
$109,200
John A. Barrasso (R) Wyoming Incumbent
$108,400
Roger Wicker (R) Mississippi Incumbent
$107,250
Mark Pryor (D) Arkansas Incumbent
$103,250
Saxby Chambliss (R) Georgia Incumbent
$101,000
John E. Sununu (R) New Hampshire Incumbent
$90,900
Jeff Sessions (R) Alabama Incumbent
$87,650
Thad Cochran (R) Mississippi Incumbent
$75,700

Totals based on data released electronically by the Federal Election Commission on Sept. 2, 2008. Senate data based on six-year totals.

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