February 2, 2016

Senate Sides with Big Oil to Keep Public in the Dark on Political Spending

Whitehouse Amendment Requiring Disclosure of Fossil Fuel Influence on Energy Policy Blocked

Washington, DC – With the Senate considering far-reaching energy reform legislation, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse offered an amendment to shed light on unlimited, secret political spending by fossil fuel special interests.  Whitehouse’s amendment would have required companies that receive $1 million or more in revenue from fossil fuel-related activities to disclose spending intended to influence our political process and energy policy decisions.  The amendment failed by a vote of 43-52.

“As we work to address the serious energy issues we face as a country, we should know how the fossil fuel industry exerts influence over our politics and rigs the system in favor of their dirty products.  This amendment would require Big Oil and other fossil fuel special interests to disclose their secret political spending to the public.  That would prevent these companies from buying influence without accountability and ensure that the American people know who’s manipulating our energy policy,” said Whitehouse.

Corporate and dark money spending is pushing election spending to record levels.  The 2014 midterm election was the most expensive in our history.  According to the Washington Post, at least 31 percent of all independent spending in that election came from groups not required to disclose their donors.  And that doesn’t even count spending on so-called “issue ads,” which is also not reported.  The Koch Brothers political network has vowed to spend $750 million this election cycle, more than the Bush and Kerry campaigns spent combined in 2004.

The Whitehouse amendment, modeled on his DISCLOSE Act, would require covered organizations and individuals to disclose campaign spending of over $10,000 since January 1, 2014.  The disclosure requirement in the amendment would apply to all corporate officers, board members, and anyone who owns 5 percent or more of those companies.


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