Oil and Gas Companies Fuel GOP Congressional Takeover Attempt

As it collects record profits, Big Oil is donating more than ever to the largest Republican super PACs.

Oil and Gas Companies Fuel GOP Congressional Takeover Attempt
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)

With control of Congress up for grabs in the November midterms, fossil fuel companies and trade groups have contributed record amounts this cycle to two Republican super PACs aligned with Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell, according to a Sludge analysis of Federal Election Commission data.

Companies including Chevron and Koch Industries, and lobbying groups like the American Petroleum Institute, have donated nearly $32.8 million to the Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF) and the Senate Leadership Fund (SLF) as of Oct. 19 in the 2022 cycle. The super PACs are the two highest-spending outside groups this election cycle, flooding the airwaves with pro-Republican and anti-Democrat ads ahead of the Nov. 8 elections. The CLF and the SLF do not have formal ties to McCarthy and McConnell due to campaign finance regulations, but they are known to be closely aligned with and steered by the Republican leaders. 

A Republican majority in either or both chambers of Congress would likely seek to weaken or reverse climate change mitigation measures like those that were enacted in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) to promote clean energy and electric vehicles, regulate methane emissions from oil and gas facilities, and more. The fossil fuel lobby opposed the IRA as it was being advanced by the Democrats, saying in a letter to House leaders that it was particularly concerned about the bill’s tax increases and provisions constraining oil and gas development. 

Fossil fuel industry donations to the CLF and the SLF, which can receive donations of unlimited size, have been steadily rising over recent election cycles. A Sludge review found that organizations in the fossil fuel industry contributed $24.5 million in the 2020 cycle and just over $20 million in the 2018 cycle to the PACs. Donations from fossil fuel companies and trade groups make up about 6.6% of the super PACs’ overall fundraising this cycle. 

The largest fossil fuel industry lobbying group, the American Petroleum Institute (API), has donated a total of $3 million this cycle to the CLF in its efforts to make Kevin McCarthy the next House speaker. Two-thirds of that haul came in September, according to FEC records. The funding was API’s largest-ever donation to the CLF—by comparison, in the 2018 election cycle, it contributed just $10,000 to the super PAC.