Oil and Gas Companies Donate Big to GOP Super PACs

Chevron, Valero, and Devon Energy were among the largest donors to the super PACs aligned with Mike Johnson and Mitch McConnell last year.

Oil and Gas Companies Donate Big to GOP Super PACs
In an aerial view, the Valero Houston refinery is seen on August 28, 2023 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Oil and gas companies were among the largest donors in the second half of last year to the super PACs aligned with the Republican leaders of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, according to a pair of new filings with the Federal Election Commission.

Companies including Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and Devon Energy, as well as oil and gas trade associations, donated a combined $13,895,000 to the congressional Republican-supporting groups during the period beginning July 1, 2023 and ending on December 31, 2023. 

The groups that received the donations are the Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), which is aligned with Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-La.), and the Senate Leadership Fund (SLF), which is aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). CLF and SLF are the largest pro-Republican super PACs, spending hundreds of millions each election cycle on ads and voter outreach campaigns to oppose Democratic candidates and support Republicans. Unlike most PACs and campaign groups, CLF and SLF can take donations of unlimited size from corporations because they only make expenditures independently from candidates. The oil and gas donations to SLF and CLF came directly from the companies’ treasuries, rather than from PACs that must be funded by individual donors. 

The largest oil and gas industry donor to CLF and SLF over the period was Chevron, which gave each group $1.5 million. Chevron spent nearly $8 million on lobbying the federal government in 2023, pushing policymakers on issues including “Access to oil and natural gas resources on public lands,” “Natural Gas, Crude Oil and Petroleum Product Exports,” and the Paris Agreement. 

Republicans in Congress are generally far more aligned with the oil and gas industry’s policy preferences than their Democratic counterparts. This is illustrated in the legislation that the Republican House Majority gave the symbolic H.R. 1 designation this session of Congress. That bill would repeal the tax on methane emissions that was enacted in 2022 through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), authorize the Environmental Protection Agency to waive requirements of the Clean Air Act for energy projects it deems critical, end the existing moratorium on coal leasing on public lands, and more. The bill was passed by the House on a nearly party line vote and applauded in a press release by the American Petroleum Institute (API), the largest fossil fuel industry trade association.

API was also among the donors to CLF and SLF, giving each group $1 million. The group, whose budget was $241 million in 2022, according to its tax filing, counts many of the largest oil and gas companies in the works among its members. Companies including Exxon Mobil, Chevron, and Shell USA support API with annual multimillion-dollar contributions, which are leveraged by the group to lobby policymakers, run ads aimed at improving the industry’s public perception, and assist companies with things like certifications and information on standards that they need to operate.   

API’s lobbying spending jumped by 40% in 2023 over the year before, spending nearly $6.2 million weighing in with policymakers on issues like the taxation of methane and oil and gas production. Recently, in addition to calling on Congress to repeal the IRA’s methane fee, the API joined other industry groups in pressuring the Biden administration not to pause applications for new liquid natural gas exports.