Washington, DC – Senate Republicans on Wednesday shot down an amendment by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) requiring full disclosure by corporate and individual stakeholders or leaseholders in the Keystone XL Pipeline and tar sand projects.
“It has all the earmarks of the biggest earmark ever, and we have learned from other history with earmarks that when you have a project that benefits specific investors and specific corporations and specific entities, there is a valuable premium on having the public know about the campaign contributions relative to that project.” – Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
The requirement, exposing the money trail of those with $1 million or more vested profits, was blocked by Republican Senators in a 44-52 vote. Result? Special interest money funneled into the GOP’s number one legislative priority and future tar sands projects – It’s a GOP secret.
In a statement after the vote, Whitehouse expressed his frustration with backdoor politicking at the expense of transparency for the American people.
“Right now I imagine many Americans are wondering why the new Republican majority has devoted its first month in office to cramming through a legislative gift to Big Oil rather than passing legislation to tackle more serious issues. This amendment would have helped answer that question by requiring public disclosure of political spending by the special interests who will benefit from the Keystone pipeline and tar sands production. By blocking this provision, Senate Republicans are protecting the ability of their deep-pocketed friends to secretly buy influence and keeping the American people in the dark.”
Hammering the favoritism extended to deep pocket special interest groups like Koch Industries, Whitehouse laid out the magnitude of investments made in wooing and influencing the Nation’s elected officials.
“Koch Industries is one of the largest leaseholders in the Canadian tar sands, with 1.12 million to 1.47 million acres,” said Whitehouse. “This week it was reported that the Koch Brothers political network plans to spend nearly $1 trillion to influence the 2016 election cycle. In the last election cycle, just one of the Kochs’ political ventures – Americans for Prosperity – boasted of spending as much as $130 million, but was only required to disclose $6.4 million of that spending to the Federal Election Commission.”
The astounding $1 trillion amount was revealed after the weekend’s Palm Springs elbow-rub, hosted by oil magnates Charles and David Koch, and attended by affluent conservatives, lobbyists and politicos.
Seeking reprise from minimalistic reporting and target-specific (industry) allowances, the amendment sponsored by Whitehouse required organizations and individuals to disclose campaign spending over $10,000.
The disclosure requirement in the amendment applied to all corporate officers, board members, and anyone owning 5 percent or more of vested companies.
The Senate GOP succeeded in blocking the Whitehouse amendment with Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, stating that more stringent disclosure as called for, “is not relevant to this debate. It’s as unnecessary now as it was the first time that we voted on. To the extent that it is legal for a person or a company to make a campaign contribution, federal and state election laws require public disclosure of those campaign contributions.”
The Senate is scheduled to resume debate of the Keystone XL Pipeline Act on Thursday.