01.28.15

Senate Republicans Vote to Protect Secret Spending by Big Oil

Keystone Amendment would have Required Disclosure of Campaign Spending by Koch Brothers and other Tar Sands Beneficiaries

Washington, DC – As the Senate continues into its fourth week of debate on the Keystone XL pipeline legislation, Senators today voted on an amendment by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) to shine a light on the special interest money that is influencing the debate.  Whitehouse’s amendment would have required companies or individuals who hold leases or stand to make more than $1 million from tar sands development – such as the Koch brothers – to disclose their political spending.  Republican Senators blocked the amendment by a vote of 44-52.

“Right now I imagine many Americans are wondering why the new Republican majority has devoted its first month in office to cramming through a legislative gift to Big Oil rather than passing legislation to tackle more serious issues,” Whitehouse said.  “This amendment would have helped answer that question by requiring public disclosure of political spending by the special interests who will benefit from the Keystone pipeline and tar sands production.  By blocking this provision, Senate Republicans are protecting the ability of their deep-pocketed friends to secretly buy influence and keeping the American people in the dark.”

Koch Industries is one of the largest leaseholders in the Canadian tar sands, with 1.12 million to 1.47 million acres.  This week it was reported that the Koch Brothers political network plans to spend nearly $1 trillion to influence the 2016 election cycle.  In the last election cycle, just one of the Kochs’ political ventures – Americans for Prosperity – boasted of spending as much as $130 million, but was only required to disclose $6.4 million of that spending to the Federal Election Commission.  

The Whitehouse amendment would require covered organizations and individuals to disclose campaign spending over $10,000.  The disclosure requirement in the amendment would apply to all corporate officers, board members, and anyone who owns 5% or more of said companies.

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