Money traditionally follows power in the nation’s capital. As a result, corporate campaign contributions have historically been split among incumbents of both political parties, with a decided advantage for whichever controls Congress and the White House.
But that pattern has begun to fray, as companies in some major industries that see a threat from federal regulations — most notably the energy sector — appear to have deepened bonds with the Republican Party, with which they share increasingly indistinguishable goals.
“Since they’re trying to block regulation or block new laws, a single party can do the job for them,” said Robert Weissman, president of the consumer group Public Citizen. “So it makes sense to deepen the relationship there.”
One of the most telling examples of this deepened relationship is the oil and gas sector. Just over two decades ago, Republican donations from people and companies associated with oil and gas outpaced Democratic donations — but by less than a 2-to-1 margin, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. After the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994, that ratio increased to 3 to 1 or 4 to 1.
So far in the 2012 election cycle, that ratio has shot up to over 7 to 1, according to CRP data, tallying nearly $17 million in donations from oil and gas interests to Republicans, compared to just over $2 million to Democrats.
The trend is similar, if not quite as extreme, across the energy sector. In the mining industry, what was a 60-40 split in proportion of Republican giving to Democrat giving in the ’90s is an 87-13 split in 2012.
Spokesmen for the American Petroleum Institute, a lobbying colossus for the oil and gas industry, and ExxonMobil, the single largest political player in the sector, declined to comment on the dramatic increase in donations to the GOP relative to the Democrats.
Lloyd Avram, a spokesman for Chevron, also declined to comment on the discrepancy in donations linked to his company.
“Chevron exercises its fundamental right and responsibility to participate in the political process,” Avram wrote in an email to The Huffington Post. “We make political contributions where permitted by law and, consistent with Company policy, to support political candidates, political organizations and ballot measures committed to economic development, free enterprise and good government.”