BP and Halliburton Officials Fill Politicians’ Pockets

A blogger at Think Progress has taken a look at political contributions being made by the companies responsible for the catastrophic oil rupture in the Gulf, and his findings are an indictment of the American political system.

Alex Seitz-Wald  (photo above) reports that BP and Halliburton are pouring cash into the coffers of friendly members of Congress, apparently as part of their defense strategy. He writes:

Facing possible jail time for their roles in the largest oil spill in American history, BP and Halliburton are building high-powered legal teams with “deep Department of Justice and White House ties.” But the companies are pursuing other means to defend themselves as well.

Halliburton’s campaign donations have spiked as it tries to curry favor with key members of Congress investigating the disaster. The company donated $17,000 in May, making it “the busiest donation month for Halliburton’s PAC since September 2008,” Politico reports. Thirteen of the 14 contributions from May went to Republicans, while seven went to members of Congress who are “on committees with oversight of the oil spill and its aftermath.”

About one week before executive Timothy Probert appeared before the House Energy and Commerce’s investigative subcommittee, Halliburton donated $1,500 to Ranking Republican Joe Barton’s reelection effort. It was Halliburton’s second-largest donation of the month — topped only by $2,500 to former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who is running for the Senate.

In the Senate, Idaho Republican Mike Crapo, who serves on the Environment and Public Works Committee, Georgia Republican Johnny Isakson, who serves on the Commerce Committee and North Carolina Republican Richard Burr (N.C.), who serves on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, all got $1,000. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) also got $1,000….

Some coastal governors have benefited from BP as well. BP and other oil companies gave Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) $1.8 million dollars for his campaign, and since the spill, he’s been aggressively downplaying the disaster and encouraging people to visit his state’s oily beaches. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) traveled to a BP-funded conference in Houston last month “to lobby aggressively to drill for oil and natural gas without delay.” Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) dismissed potential BP negligence by calling the spill an “act of God” at a trade association funded by BP in May.

You may have noticed that the politicians cited by Seitz-Wald are all Republicans, and I am not surprised. Republican leaders have been shameless in defending the indefensible criminal negligence of the oil companies.

It was the Republican party that originated the “drill-baby-drill” battle cry, after all.

But I am sure some Democrats will find a check in the mail before the oil company lobbyists are through.

The oil companies have billions, and as President Obama indignantly pointed out, they are choosing to spend their money on public relations and lobbying rather than on compensating the victims of their horrendous crime.

As oil fills the Gulf, bringing a cruel death to so much helpless wildlife, wreaking havoc on the environment and destroying the livelihoods of thousands of residents, you would think the end has finally come for offshore drilling in America. You would think the willfully negligent executives responsible for this disaster would go to prison. And you would think BP and its confederates would be bankrupted trying to compensate their victims.

But don’t bet on it.

The oil companies have deep pockets, and American polticians need huge amounts of money for their reelection campaigns.