The story of the election so far, in terms of who won the tally of votes, is that the Democrats have been wiped out here.
But the reality is that most of the Washington legislative delegation has been demoted. With Republicans regaining control of the House, her eight House Democrats in freshly won states are about to be relegated to the backventure status of being in the minority.
Mostly overlooked was the state’s real biggest winner (second only to U.S. Senator Patti Murray, of course). That is Rep. Kathy McMorris Rogers, a Republican who represents the far eastern side of the state.
But she didn’t go unnoticed by the country’s big gold interests.
Even with a brief campaign that attracted little attention or opposition spending, McMorris Rodgers still finished the year as the number one recipient of PAC contributions for House candidates in the nation.
Corporations and other interest groups use Political Action Committees (PACs) to funnel money to the politicians they support. Not only did McMorris Rodgers get more money from PAC than about 800 congressional candidates in all 50 states this year, her nearly $3 million from corporate PAC was second only. Republican congressman from Illinois, she surpassed her by nearly 40. %, according to the Responsible Political Committee that tracks money games at opensecrets.org.
Why would such a safe place become a honeypot of corporate cash?
Money in politics often flows towards conflict, such as tight, noisy, important campaigns. But money flows quietly in anticipation of power.
With the Republicans in control of the House, McMorris Rogers took over the command of the Energy and Commerce Committee. This is no small deal. Especially for Big Oil, who wants more drilling on state land, and climate activists and environmentalists who want to stop it.
This committee is known as one of Congress’s “financial committees.” This is because it oversees a wide variety of industries, from big energy to pharmaceuticals to health insurance. A watchdog group once reviewed campaign finance records and concluded that simply joining the committee meant an increase in fundraising of $340,000. This includes an average increase of $200,000 in donations to his PAC from companies looking to strengthen its members.
McMorris Rodgers’ $3 million contribution to PAC (she raised $6 million overall) came from every industry imaginable, including telecoms, pharmaceutical companies, banks, airlines, insurance, and big tech like Microsoft and Amazon. brought.
One of her largest categories is oil and gas, with contributions from Koch Industries, Marathon Petroleum, Chevron, Southwest Gas, Occidental Petroleum, and others. McMorris Rodgers earned her $270,000 for her oil and gas contributions. That’s more than the rest of her 12-member congressional delegation in Washington state combined, the Federal Finance Report shows.
She’s been open about using her new position to push drills, babes, drills.
“We need to flip the switch on America’s energy now to bring down costs,” she said in a recent Energy and Commerce news release, adding that it would strengthen “coal, oil, natural gas, hydropower and nuclear power.” means
Note that coal and oil are billed first, but solar and wind are not mentioned at all. McMorris Rodgers, one of Congress’ most skeptical of the transition to green energy, was a coal mining advocate, restarted the Keystone oil pipeline, and launched the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. We have drilled in the ward and increased the sale of oil drilling leases on state-owned land. offshore waters.
All of this predicts a showdown over green energy and climate change. McMorris Rogers has hinted at plans to begin investigating Democratic-approved climate change grants and programs last summer, which she called “Solindra on steroids” (which went bankrupt during the Obama administration). named after the solar company).
“It’s important not to waste hundreds of billions of dollars on a political agenda that jeopardizes our credibility and forces us to move to green energy, which increases costs,” she said last week.
Conservative groups are pressing Republicans to simply abolish Congress’ climate crisis task force. (Because if you’re not holding meetings, it’s no longer a crisis?)
“It’s going to be an incredibly hostile, hostile, confrontational Congress,” one environmentalist predicted to Energy and Environment News.
Other environmentalists are hoping that instead of the big setback in green energy policy they feared, the split control of the House and Senate will probably just cause a traffic jam.
Example: Overlooking McMorris Rogers over the Capitol Rotunda is almost certainly Washington Senator Maria Cantwell. Cantwell and McMorris-Rogers are now essentially opposite numbers as Democrats retained control of the Senate. Cantwell, who took over the Senate Commerce Committee last year and also serves on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has been a long-time green energy advocate and opponent of more oil drilling.
Where does Cantwell rank for PAC donations? It’s at the bottom because she doesn’t receive corporate PAC donations. (She reports her $0 in the next campaign.)
All of this means that the battle for the nation’s energy transformation is now being played out in full force through agents in Washington State. East vs. West, old energy vs. new energy, two former state legislators turned political powers on the national stage.
It may be interesting. Not much to lose, except quiet money. Moreover, the only thing that can be out of balance is the Earth’s climate.