New Report: Natural Gas Industry Has Spent More Than $23 Million to Influence PA Elected Officials

MarcellusMoney.org update details $774,000 in new contributions; $6.8 million in new lobbying in 2011 and 2012 

HARRISBURG, PA--The natural gas industry and related trade groups have now given nearly $8 million to Pennsylvania state candidates and political committees since 2000, according to new research by Common Cause Pennsylvania and Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania. Top recipients of industry money given between 2000 and April 2012 were Governor Tom Corbett (R) with $1,813,205.59, Senate President Joseph Scarnati (R-25) with $359,145.72, Rep. Dave Reed (R-62) with $137,532.33, House Majority Leader Rep. Mike Turzai (R-28) with $98,600, and Sen. Don White (R-41) with $94,150.

Total contributions from natural gas interests between 2000 and 2012: $8 million

Total lobbying expenditures by natural gas interests between 2007 and 2012: $15.7 million

View the data online or download the data sheet.

After reaching an all-time annual high of $1.6 million in 2010, the new study found that contributions declined to $560,800 in 2011. Lobbying expenditures surged during this same period, however, with $5 million being spent in 2011, an increase of $1 million from 2010. An additional $1.8 million was spent in the first three months of 2012, bringing the total since Q1 2007 to $15.7 million.

“The industry has largely had its way in Pennsylvania and has spent millions to put their friends in the state legislature and the Governor’s mansion,” said James Browning, Regional Director of State Operations for Common Cause. “The industry’s focus now is on protecting these investments and maintaining access to key elected officials.” 

“Pennsylvania politicians sold gas companies the right to pollute Pennsylvania’s land, air, and water for bargain basement prices,” said Josh McNeil, Executive Director of Conservation Voters of PA.  “For their $23 million political investment, gas companies avoided hundreds of millions in taxes that could have paid for thousands of teachers, roads and desperately needed environmental protections.” 

Pennsylvania continues to be one of just 11 states that fail to limit campaign contributions, and the state’s failure to require electronic filing of campaign finance reports has resulted in delays by the Pennsylvania Department of State in making these reports available on its website. According to Common Cause, less than half of the reports due to be filed by all candidates at the end of last March were available on the DOS website as of April 20, just four days before the April 24 primary.

MarcellusMoney.org is a collaboration of Common Cause PA and the Conversation Voters of PA