Press Center

 

For Immediate Release:

Contact:

July 22, 2013

Susan Lerner, Common Cause/NY, (212) 691-6421

 

 

"Moreland Monday" Analysis of Pro-Fracking Contributions Raises Serious Issues for Commission to Investigate

Common Cause/NY Analysis Shows Pro-Fracking Interests Contributed Over $14 Million to New York State & Local Candidates & Committees from 2007-March 2013
Fair Elections for New York Campaign Calls for Moreland Commission to Investigate Impact of Campaign Donations on Policy

 

NEW YORK- A new "Moreland Monday" analysis[1] released today by Common Cause/NY is raising serious questions about the potential influence of millions of dollars in campaign contributions on public policy relating to natural gas fracking in New York. The analysis of campaign contributions from donors with an interest in natural gas drilling in New York State revealed that from January 2007 to March 2013 these interests, totaling 183 entities, contributed over $14 million to state and local politicians and parties. The Fair Elections for New York campaign is calling on the newly created Moreland Commission to subpoena all relevant information related to contributions as part of their sweeping investigation of corruption in New York State.

 

The Common Cause/NY analysis shows that the leading recipients of pro-fracking money in the State Legislature are the most vocal supporters of its expansion in New York, with fracking interest money concentrating largely on Senators from Western New York and the Southern Tier and the leadership in the Assembly.

 

"Powerful businesses and industries which stand to benefit from fracking use campaign contributions to gain influence with their local lawmakers, candidates, and party organizations. We see a wide spectrum of fracking related interests taking full advantage of New York’s lax campaign finance laws in the hope of a future payday if fracking is permitted." said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY.

 

The Fair Elections for New York campaign released the following statement in response to the Common Cause/NY analysis: "This is precisely why Governor Cuomo and Attorney General Schneiderman created this Moreland Commission: to investigate the abuse of the campaign finance system by special interests who are looking to influence public policy with their deep pockets. The Fair Elections for New York campaign is calling for the Moreland Commission to use their sweeping powers to subpoena all relevant information related to these campaign contributions, and these special interests and members of the legislature should have to testify under oath about the decisions they have made as public servants, and whether these contributions influenced those decisions."

 

Complete contribution data can be found on the spreadsheets accompanying this release and online at www.commoncause.org/ny/deepdrillingdeeppockets

 

Common Cause/NY’s analysis broadly defines "pro-fracking interests" as the full spectrum of industries involved in natural gas production rather than only the drillers. In New York, the largest campaign contributors involved in the business of fracking are the supporting industries like engineering firms, pipeline owners, chemical companies, construction industry organizations and unions, law firms with oil and gas practices, and other affiliated members of pro-fracking organizations such as IOGA and Clean Growth Now. Major statewide and regional business lobbies like the Business Council of NYS, Unshackle Upstate, and Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce have also taken leading roles in advocating for fracking. This updated study does not include contributions from natural gas utilities such as Con Edison or natural gas power plant operators who have only a secondary interest in fracking.

 

Issues for Further Investigation by Moreland Commission

 

1. Examine the timing of the contributions made to the top legislative recipients in relation to the introduction or discussion of fracking related bills.

2. Examine the involvement of lobbyists and bundlers relating to the contributions to the top legislative recipients.

3. Examine the circumstances of, and any conversations which took place in relation to, the donations made to the Senate and Assembly campaign committees.

 

Highlights

 

The State Senate is by far the largest repository of pro-fracking interest money, with nearly $3.9 million going to candidates and party committees in the chamber. The County level party committees are the next largest recipient at $2.8 million, followed by State Assembly candidates and party committees ($1.8 million), County Executives and Legislators ($1.7 million) and candidates for Governor ($1.2 million).

 

Within the State Legislature, Senators Tom Libous (R-52) and George Maziarz (R-52) are far and away the top recipients of pro-fracking interest money and are the most vocal supporters of fracking in the State Senate. Overall, 16 of the top 20 legislator recipients are Senators and all of the Republican Senators from Western New York and the Southern Tier are among the Top 20. In the Assembly, only four members make the top 20 – Speaker Sheldon Silver, Deputy Majority Leader Joe Morelle and Republican Minority Leader Brian Kolb, as well as Robin Schimminger, one of only two Assembly Democrats to vote against the 2013 fracking moratorium bill.

 

Top 20 NYS Legislators
Currently in Office

Pro-Fracking
Campaign
Contributions
(2007 - March 2013)

Office

Location

1. Tom Libous (R)

$353,205.00

Senator

District 52 -- Southern Tier Binghamton Area

2. George Maziarz (R)

$178,830.58

Senator

District 62 -- Niagara, Buffalo and Rochester suburbs

3. Michael Ranzenhofer (R)

$125,824.20

Senator

District 61 -- Buffalo-Rochester suburbs, Genesee County

4. Dean Skelos (R)

$93,950.00

Senator

District 9 -- Nassau County

5. David Valesky (D-IDC)

$79,075.00

Senator

District 53 – Syracuse, Madison County area

6. Cathy Young (R)

$70,345.00

Senator

District 57 – Western Southern Tier

7. Michael Nozzolio (R)

$68,751.40

Senator

District 54 – Finger Lakes

8. Joe Morelle (D)

$59,075.00

Assembly

District 136 – Rochester area

9. Joseph Robach (R)

$58,208.30

Senator

District 56 – Rochester area

10. Sheldon Silver (D)

$58,069.20

Assembly

District 65 – Lower Manhattan

11. Brian Kolb (R)

$55,719.00

Assembly

District 131 – Finger Lakes

12. Jeff Klein (D-IDC)

$54,495.00

Senator

District 34 – Bronx-Westchester

13. Mark Grisanti (R)

$54,297.90

Senator

District 60 – Buffalo area

14. Tom O'Mara (R)

$51,375.00

Senator

District 58 – Southern Tier

15. Betty Little (R)

$50,480.00

Senator

District 45 – North Country

16. Robin Schimminger (D)

$49,058.31

Assembly

District 140 – Buffalo area

17. John DeFrancisco (R)

$46,575.00

Senator

District 50 – Syracuse area

18. Malcolm Smith (D)

$46,050.00

Senator

District 10 – Queens

19. Charles Fuschillo (R)

$44,213.75

Senator

District 8 – Long Island

20. Pat Gallivan (R)

$37,875.05

Senator

District 59 -- Buffalo & Rochester suburbs, Wayne County

 

 

Top 10 NYS Committee/PAC Recipients

Pro-Fracking
Campaign Contributions
(2007-March 2013)

1. Monroe County Republican Committee

$1,057,713.85

2. NYS Senate Republican Campaign Committee

$889,179.69

3. Monroe County Democratic Committee

$491,000.00

4. NYS Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee

$447,578.63

5. NYS Democratic Senate Campaign Committee

$254,976.73

6. Niagara County Republican Committee

$233,482.00

7. New York State Democratic Committee

$211,450.00

8. Republican Assembly Campaign Committee

$174,878.89

9. Erie County Republican Committee

$172,125.00

10. Erie County Democratic Committee

$107,493.70

 

 

Top Pro-Fracking Business Interest Contributors ($250,000+)

Campaign Contributions (2007-March 2013)

Category

Description

1. Hiscock & Barclay

$753,837.35

OIL & GAS SUPPORT INDUSTRIES – LAW FIRM

Large multi-issue law firm and lobbyist based in upstate New York with an oil and gas practice specializing in managing new fracking development. Member of IOGA (link)

2. Harris Beach

$743,149.00

OIL & GAS SUPPORT INDUSTRIES – LAW FIRM

Large multi-issue law firm based in upstate New York with an oil and gas practice focusing on New York and Pennsylvania fracking. Member of IOGA. (link)

3. Phillips Lytle LLP

$695,629.70

OIL & GAS SUPPORT INDUSTRIES – LAW FIRM

Large multi-issue law firm based in upstate New York with an oil and gas practice focusing on New York and Pennsylvania fracking. Member of IOGA (link)

4. IUOE – International Union of Operating Engineers

$667,810.90

PRO-FRACKING UNION

Union representing heavy construction equipment operators, mechanics, and surveyors. Member of the "Clean Growth Now" coalition. Fracking is listed in lobbying reports filed with JCOPE

5. Nixon Peabody

$603,829.05

OIL & GAS SUPPORT INDUSTRIES – LAW FIRM

Large multi-issue law firm with an oil and gas practice, member of IOGA (link)

6. New York State Pipe Trades Association

$583,375.00

PRO-FRACKING UNION

Union representing workers in the plumbing and pipe trades industries, one of the sponsors of the 2012 ad campaign for fracking. Fracking is listed in lobbying reports filed with JCOPE (link)

7. Associated General Contractors of NYS

$579,020.87

OIL & GAS SUPPORT INDUSTRIES – CONSTRUCTION

Trade organization for contractors, one of the sponsors of the 2012 ad campaign for fracking. Fracking is listed in lobbying reports filed with JCOPE (link)

8. Bond, Schoeneck & King

$556,824.00

OIL & GAS SUPPORT INDUSTRIES – LAW FIRM

Upstate New York law firm with an oil and gas practice (link)

9. The Business Council of NYS

$436,241.64

PRO-FRACKING BUSINESS LOBBY

New York's statewide business lobby, prominent supporter of fracking (link)

10. General Electric

$424,283.23

OIL & GAS SUPPORT INDUSTRIES – ENGINEERING ; WATER TREATMENT

Investing heavily in fracking engineering, including new water treatment methods. Fracking is listed in lobbying reports filed with JCOPE (link)

11. LeChase Construction

$386,773.00

OIL & GAS SUPPORT INDUSTRIES – GAS FIELD CONSTRUCTION

Large construction company headquartered in Rochester, engaged in gas field construction for Chesapeake Energy, Schlumberger, and Dominion (link)

12. Associated Builders & Contractors

$357,005.77

OIL & GAS SUPPORT INDUSTRIES – CONSTRUCTION

Construction industry trade organization, member of the "Clean Growth Now" coalition

13. Harter Secrest & Emery LLP

$354,783.25

OIL & GAS SUPPORT INDUSTRIES – LAW FIRM

Large multi-issue law firm based in Buffalo and Albany with an oil and gas practice, member of IOGA (link)

14. The Pike Company

$339,454.00

OIL & GAS SUPPORT INDUSTRIES – ENGINEERING

Rochester based engineering and construction company, member of IOGA (link)

15. National Fuel

$272,139.83

DRILLING AND DISTRIBUTION

Buffalo-based corporation that is a natural gas utility, pipeline, and drilling company all in one. Subsidiary Seneca Resources engages in fracking in Pennsylvania (link)

16. Clough Harbour

$260,664.00

OIL & GAS SUPPORT INDUSTRIES – ENGINEERING

Diverse engineering corporation with a natural gas division (link)

 

Trends

 

In addition to Legislative candidates and committees, pro-fracking interests are concentrating their local giving primarily in Western and Central New York and the Southern Tier, pouring funds into the party committees of Monroe, Niagara, Erie, Onondaga, and Broome counties as well as into the coffers of County Executives and other local elected representatives. A number of the largest pro-fracking donors are Western New York law firms and engineering companies who work in the oil and gas production sector and stand to benefit from potential new business from fracking. They are additionally members of gas industry groups like IOGA and local business lobbies like Unshackle Upstate, the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, Rochester Business Alliance, and Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce, groups which have been at the forefront of the lobbying effort to bring fracking to New York.

 

Money also follows power, with donors giving more to candidates aligned with the majority party in either house of the Legislature than the minority party: $2,218,213 to Republican and Independent Democratic Conference candidates for Senate vs. $496,063 to Democrats, and $784,942 to Democratic candidates for Assembly vs. $429,617 to Republicans. The same rule applies to party committees (including "soft money" housekeeping accounts) with Senate Republicans ($899,179) outstripping Senate Democrats' ($254,976) and Assembly Democrats ($447,578) trouncing Assembly Republicans ($174,878). New York's statewide officials Governor Andrew Cuomo ($832,650), Attorney General Schneiderman ($94,600), and Comptroller DiNapoli ($66,100) also received significant sums from pro-fracking interests.

 

Note

 

Common Cause/NY recognizes that because we take a broad view of pro-fracking interests some contributions included in this dataset, such as those from major business lobbies like the Business Council of NYS, may be related to other issues. However, this data taken as a whole provides an accurate measure of the power and influence of pro-fracking business interests in state and local government.

 

In contrast to the $14 million+ spent by pro-fracking interests since 2007, among all the groups involved in anti-fracking advocacy, Communications Workers of America is the only significant campaign contributor ($1.8 million since 2007) and fracking is not a primary priority in CWA's policy agenda. Other than CWA, which joined New Yorkers Against Fracking in 2012, there is less than $50,000 in anti-fracking organization and PAC contributions. With the exception of Citizen Action ($33,510) and the Sierra Club ($5,605), none of the environmental and civic organizations advocating against fracking have made significant campaign contributions.

 

In the fall, Common Cause/NY will be releasing a full report on the scope and influence of money-in-politics in the debate over New York fracking, which will include detailed lobbying data and campaign contributions from both pro and anti-fracking interests.

 

Complete Contribution Data:

Pro-Fracking Contribution Totals By Corporation-Entity- July 2013

Pro-Fracking Recipient Totals - July 2013
Anti-Fracking Contributions - Orgs Only - July 2013

 

[1] This is the first in a series of analyses which highlight failings of our campaign finance system that are worthy of further inquiry and investigation by the Moreland Commission empaneled to examine corruption and problems with campaign finance.

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