Texas Petroleum Industry Giving Major Cash to Greg Abbott, Other Tea Party Candidates

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The oil and gas industry is one of the biggest in the world, raking in $93 billion in profits last year alone. At the center of the industry is Texas, which is home to many of the nation's major oil companies. These oil companies are deeply involved in state politics, using their considerable funds to support many state and local candidates.

It should come as no surprise that most of the candidates oil and gas companies choose to support are Republicans.

Over the past year, several major Texas gas companies have given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republicans running for office, including many Tea Partiers running for the Texas Legislature. These companies want to ensure Texas is controlled by right-wing politicians, and are using the vast resources at their disposal to make that a reality.

See which candidates are receiving support from Texas oil companies after the jump. When it comes to the top office in the state, it's clear that the petroleum industry prefers Greg Abbott over Wendy Davis. According to the Republican Governors' Association campaign finance report from the last quarter of 2013, several Texas oil companies gave gave large sums to the RGA in October 2013, right after Wendy Davis announced her run for governor.

Date Donor Amount of Donation
10/01/2013 Conoco Phillips $50,000
10/01/2013 Valero PAC $15,000
10/25/2013 Texas Oceanic Petroleum $25,000

Valero PAC has also been involved in many other state level races. Below is a select list of some of the right-wing Tea Party candidates Valero has supported in 2013 and 2014, taken from public data available via the Texas Ethics Commission.

Donor Date Recipient of Donation Office Sought Amount of Donation
Valero PAC 07/30/2013 Committee to Elect Jason Isaac HD 45 $1000
Valero PAC 08/21/2013 Texans for Dan Branch Attorney General $2500
Valero PAC 10/17/2013 Texans for Harvey Hilderbran Comptroller $2500
Valero PAC 02/21/2014 Texans for Todd Staples Lieutenant Governor $1000
Valero PAC 02/21/2014 Friends of Donna Campbell SD 25 $1000

Valero has given a small amount of money to Texas Democrats, most notably a $1000 donation to Leticia Van de Putte in September 2013. Nonetheless, the PAC's overall record is overwhelmingly Republican.

The Conoco Phillips PAC is also incredibly active in state level conservative politics. A select list of the candidates it has supported is below.

Donor Date Recipient of Donation Office Sought Amount of Donation
Conoco Phillips Spirit PAC 12/12/2013 Texans for Greg Abbott Governor $5000
Conoco Phillips Spirit PAC 01/29/2014 George P. Bush Land Commissioner $1000
Conoco Phillips Spirit PAC 01/29/2014 Stefani Carter HD 102 $1000
Conoco Phillips Spirit PAC 02/07/2014 Glenn Hegar Comptroller $2000
Conoco Phillips Spirit PAC 02/12/2014 Linda Harper-Brown HD 105 $1000

Unlike Valero, Conoco Phillips has not given any money to state-level Democratic candidates.

FEC data also shows that Valero PAC and Conoco Phillips are active in Texas Congressional races. Both PACs have contributed to House Republican and Democratic candidates, though as expected, the amount of contributions to Republicans outweighs those to Democrats.

Valero and Conoco Phillips were also active in the Senate race. Conoco Phillips gave $10,000 to John Cornyn for his primary race against Steve Stockman. Valero chose to split its support, giving $5,000 to Cornyn and $2,500 to Stockman (perhaps trying to stay in the good graces of both should Steve “Let's Arm Fetuses” Stockman have pulled off an upset win). Valero has additionally given $1,000 to Ted Cruz this year.

The oil and gas industry is an integral part of the Texas economy and Texas politics. Though it's unsurprising the industry's major players lean Republican, it's important to see their financial contributions laid out. Knowing who is receiving money from the oil industry helps Texans understand what is informing our politicians' decisions–and helps us hold our politicians accountable.


About Author

Katie Singh

Katie grew up in Austin and has been involved in Texas politics since 2004. She has been a part of several campaigns, from state house races to working at President Obama's campaign headquarters in 2012. She loves public policy, public health, and tacos. Katie tweets from @kasingh19.

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