We’ve discussed a little here at the Hayride that one of the reasons Mary Landrieu has won election three times to the Senate from an increasingly conservative Louisiana is that she’s presented herself as a friend to the state’s oil and gas interests.
That presentation has been aided by frequent messaging from organizations like the American Petroleum Institute, which has popped out three direct-mail pieces thanking Landrieu for her votes in the last four months. It’s also been aided by significant dollars from the industry – to the tune of nearly a quarter-million dollars in campaign contributions this cycle.
Landrieu, along with Sens. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., and Mark Begich, D-Alaska, are exceptions to the rule that energy companies mostly support Republicans. This is problematic for Republicans who realize taking back control of the Senate will likely require picking up as many of these three seats as possible. Landrieu, who is leading Cassidy in most polling by a handful of percentage points, has so far received $247,600 from the oil and gas industry—the third highest out of any candidate this cycle. Cassidy, meanwhile, has received $149,500 from the sector.
And now, Landrieu is crowing about the fact that since Sen. Max Baucus, the Obamacare author who heads the Senate Finance Committee, is about to be nominated for the ambassadorship to China, she might soon ascend to the chair of the Senate Energy Committee. Current Energy chairman Ron Wyden wants to head up Senate Finance, which would open the seat for Landrieu and supposedly make her an invaluable ally for oil and gas.
All of this is fine, and last week when we talked to an industry lobbyist we were told that oil and gas feels it has to have a few pet Democrats as a hedge in case Republicans don’t have a governing majority – and Landrieu makes a good pet. That sentiment echoed a statement from API’s president, made in National Journal…
When asked about supporting Landrieu over Cassidy, API President and CEO Jack Gerard deflected any direct answer about that particular race. Instead, he noted the importance of voting records of all candidates.
“There have been occasions when representing industry when members would call and say: ‘Jack, let’s do something for us,’ and I’ll look at the voting record, and I say ‘No. No, you don’t support the industry,’ ” Gerard said in a recent interview. “This isn’t about just friends. It’s about those who support the industry moving forward. And you see that on both sides of the aisle.”
But is she a friend? Kim Strassel, writing yesterday in the Wall Street Journal, notes that while Landrieu might seem chummy with oil and gas you could certainly see it as a fleece-job…
Behind the scenes, however, Ms. Landrieu has been working just as hard to make sure she’s irrelevant. Through the auspices of JAZZ PAC, her leadership political action committee, she has from 2006 to 2012 contributed some $380,000 to re-elect some of the most ardent Senate opponents of the oil and gas industry. One result is a bloc of liberal members who easily cancel out Ms. Landrieu’s votes and guarantee the defeat of legislation designed to help Louisiana.
This data, compiled from public records, come courtesy of a new nonprofit, Keep Louisiana Working, which was formed earlier this year to take a hard look at political incumbents and whether their actions help or hurt the local economy. “We were stunned to see the amount of money that energy companies contributed to JAZZ PAC that ended up going right out the backdoor to help finance the campaigns of politicians who represent the liberal, anti-energy industry sector wing of the Democrat Party,” says Emily Cornell, the nonprofit’s executive director. “There’s a saying, ‘if you want to know someone’s priorities, look at how they spend their money.'”
And a little more specifics on how this works…
Ms. Landrieu has taken in more than $1 million in donations since 2004. Energy contributors include Marathon Oil, MRO +1.00% Murphy Oil, MUR -0.16% Sunoco, Coastal Land & Drilling, and lobby firms that do work for energy companies. Ms. Landrieu repays that support by funneling their money into the campaigns of members who routinely vote to undermine Louisiana oil and gas.
An example: In March 2012, Ms. Landrieu’s fellow Louisiana senator, Republican David Vitter, managed to get a vote on an amendment that would have implemented a 2008 offshore drilling plan to allow new oil and gas leases throughout the Outer Continental Shelf. Ms. Landrieu voted for the amendment.
We noted earlier this month that Landrieu’s support for hard-core lefty Rick Weiland in South Dakota would be an example of how she’s helping to stock the Senate with people who make sure her good oil votes don’t actually translate into solid pro-energy policy on the ground.
It’s tough to claim on one hand that you’ve got the oil and gas industry’s back on one hand, and gleefully accept the American Petroleum Institute’s appreciation in TV ads and direct mail pieces for what a wonderful ally you are to the industry’s cause, and then on the other hand to assist in electing to the Senate moonbats who think Big Oil is at the root of the nation’s problems.
Edward Markey, the newest left-wing moonbat who hates the oil and gas industry, is co-hosting that fundraiser along with Mary Landrieu. Landrieu’s new media flack Andrew Zucker, whose exploits we’ve discussed a couple of times here (he actually works for the Louisiana Democrat Party, but what he’s doing is essentially acting as a communications shill for the Landrieu campaign), came from Markey’s campaign.
You can call that a weak connection. We call it a chummy atmosphere in which Landrieu styles herself as an Energy Democrat while doing lots of things to kick the energy industry right in the family jewels.
Strassel notes it’s a lot worse than that…
JAZZ PAC has given $10,000 to California’s Barbara Boxer, who in September railed on the Senate floor against approval of the Keystone pipeline. She’s given $15,000 to Rhode Island’s Sheldon Whitehouse, a fan of more oil and gas taxes.
She’s given $12,500 to New Jersey’s Robert Menendez, who sent a letter this March, signed by seven fellow Democrats, opposing any bipartisan effort to expand drilling. Of the eight signers, JAZZ PAC had contributed to seven. Florida’s Bill Nelson, Vermont’s Patrick Leahy, Illinois’s Dick Durbin, Maryland’s Ben Cardin : Name an anti-oil-and-gas Democrat, and JAZZ PAC has helped get him elected.
It’s just dumb for the oil and gas industry to continue giving Landrieu money and support when she’s re-gifting it to the Menendezes, Durbins and Boxers of the world. She could give them whatever votes they want, but when she’s actively helping to insure she’s in the minority on issues surrounding oil and gas you’re never going to see a payoff.
If Landrieu has such stroke, how come it took her so long to get the Obamoratorium lifted? How come she still isn’t able to get Louisiana its rightful 50 percent share of offshore oil royalties? How come the Keystone XL pipeline, which would increase petrochemical industry jobs in Louisiana, still languishes in bureaucratic hell?
All the anti-energy Democrats she helps stock the Senate with, is one reason.
Oil and gas is being played for a sucker by Louisiana’s senior senator. It’s long past time the industry woke up and started demanding a lot more from her for its continued support.
And if the Republicans want to eliminate her oil and gas edge, they might ought to have Lisa Murkowski, the ranking Republican on the Senate Energy committee, come down to Louisiana during this campaign to make folks in the oil patch understand that the GOP is a lot more committed to domestic energy and the jobs it will create here in the state than somebody who works to keep the Dick Durbins and Barbara Boxers in the Senate. If Murkowski takes over the chair of the Energy Committee, the pitch should go, some of these things Landrieu says she wants to see happen have a lot better likelihood of reality when Durbins and Boxers are in the minority – and Landrieu is out of the Senate altogether.