Big Oil, U.S. Rep. Bob Dold and big campaign donationsPosted on October 31, 2012
All of the big super PAC money that’s suddenly sloshing around this election cycle certainly poses some real questions about why certain interests are providing so much help to certain politicians.
But are things as bad as they appear, or more innocent? A political foul, or guilt by association?
Sometimes it’s hard to tell. Which leads to a real-life story about U.S. Rep. Dold, R-Winnetka, who frequently presents himself to voters as a pro-environment kind of guy, but who is being aided this week by a nearly $1 million “independent” TV ad buy funded by a group that has received a possibly record contribution from a big oil company.
Here’s the background.
Though a Republican, Mr. Dold has labored to present himself as a man in the tradition of predecessors Mark Kirk and John Edward Porter, who held control of the 10th Congressional District for decades despite its Democratic tilt.
As part of that effort, Mr. Dold has stressed environmental matters. Only yesterday, his campaign-closing bus tour of the district focused on environmental matters, such as his support for cleaning up Waukegan Harbor, call for energy conservation, vote against oil drilling in an Alaska wildlife preserve, etc. Allies of the Democratic candidate, Brad Schneider, have countered that the record isn’t nearly that good and charged that, overall, Mr. Dold is a tea party guy.
Anyhow, Mr. Dold has been holding his own in the debate. But then the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC linked to GOP House Speaker John Boehner, let it be known that it was launching a late TV blitz in which it would spend nearly $1 million slashing Mr. Schneider.
The spot, which now is airing, focuses on taxes, not oil. But CLF this month got a $2.5 million donation from Chevron Corp. According to the Washington Post, the gift appears to be the largest any one company has made since the U.S. Supreme Court lifted the ban on direct corporate political spending in 2010.
The Democrats are screaming their heads off about this.
“Congressman Dold got this reward after relentlessly protecting tax breaks for Big Oil companies like Chevron at the expense of Medicare,” the party’s campaign committee said in a statement.
Team Dold responds that CLF’s spending is not controlled by the congressman and that, in fact, it would be illegal for the super PAC and the Dold campaign to consult and coordinate. Adds a spokesman, “Congressman Dold also supports closing corporate loopholes for large corporations, including oil companies, and has publicly criticized the Citizens United ruling for opening the door to unrestricted outside campaign spending.”
To that, I’d add that Chevron and Mr. Dold probably agree on a lot of things that have nothing to do with the environment, such as Democratic tax policies. And that CLF has received millions from sources other than Chevron.
But isn’t it an interesting coincidence when a super PAC gets a huge donation from an oil company and then shortly thereafter makes a big TV buy on behalf of a congressman who lauds his environmental record?
As I asked above: Are things as bad as they appear, or more innocent? A political foul, or guilt by association? Good questions.