Contact: Kristin Zilcosky
Thursday, October 4; HARRISBURG, Pa. – The MarcellusMoney.org project today released its latest report detailing donations from the fracking industry to state candidates and elected officials. The report highlights the gas industry’s ongoing influence at the highest levels of Harrisburg politics and the way that influence has been used to shield the industry from taxation and oversight. MarcellusMoney.org is a project of Conservation Voters of PA.
Total Contributions by Year
The report reveals that since 2007, members of the Marcellus Shale Coalition and other companies that profit from fracking have spent $69.6 million since 2007 to lobby Pennsylvania’s state government. Lobbyists, PACs, and executives from these companies donated $11.2 million to campaign committees registered with the state.
“For more than a decade, a flood of money from this one industry has shaped the politics of our state and gotten in the way of progress,” said Josh McNeil of Conservation Voters of PA. “It is absurd that a corporate lobbyist can write a $10,000 check to an elected official the same week that that official votes to offer handouts to the lobbyist’s industry. This state desperately needs to reform its campaign finance laws and impose sensible limits on corporate influence.”
Visitors to www.marcellusmoney.org can view the amount of donations from the fracking industry received by their own elected officials by simply entering their zip code. Sitting legislators who received $10,000 or more from the drilling industry had an average lifetime score on the Pennsylvania Environmental Scorecard of just 36%, voting against environmental safeguards more than 60% of the time.
The totals by year donated to candidates and elected officials in Pennsylvania are listed to the right. 2017 was the highest “off year” on record since 2009.
Between 2007 and 2018, candidates for the state House received $3 million, while state Senate candidates received about $2.4 million from fracking interests. Candidates for statewide office received $3 million. The remaining donations went to party committees, other PACs, and local offices.
|Top Recipients: 2017 - September 2018|
|TURZAI, MICHAEL C||$128,000||State House|
|WOLF, THOMAS W||$78,500||Governor|
|SCARNATI, JOSEPH B. III||$44,500||State Senate|
|WAGNER, SCOTT R||$30,650||Governor|
|FITZGERALD, RICH||$26,500||Allegheny County Executive|
|COSTA, JAY JR.||$22,700||State Senate|
|CORMAN, JACOB D III||$20,500||State Senate|
|BROWNE, PATRICK M||$20,400||State Senate|
|O'NEAL, TIMOTHY JON||$19,750||State House|
|BARTOLOTTA, CAMERA C||$16,250||State Senate|
|SAYLOR, STANLEY E||$14,500||State House|
|REED, DAVID L||$13,400||State House|
|AUMENT, RYAN PATRICK||$13,000||State Senate|
|BENNINGHOFF, KERRY ALBERT||$11,750||State House|
|OBERLANDER, DONNA R||$11,500||State House|
|MCGARRIGLE, THOMAS J SR||$11,000||State Senate|
|WOODRUFF, DWAYNE D||$10,500||Justice of the Supreme Court|
|TOMLINSON, ROBERT M||$10,500||State Senate|
|CALTAGIRONE, THOMAS R||$10,000||State House|
From 2017 through the middle of September 2018, fracking interests have donated more than $1.3 million to candidates for state office in Pennsylvania. The top recipient of fracking cash in that time frame is House Speaker Mike Turzai, who received $128,000 in his campaign account and leadership fund from corporations including Consol Energy ($27,500), Range Resources ($31,000) and EQT Corp. ($15,000). Turzai’s counterpart in the legislature’s upper chamber — Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati — has received $44,500 since 2017.
Fracking donors contributed at least $78,000 to Governor Tom Wolf, $52,500 of which came from the CEO of Peoples Natural Gas, Morgan O’Brien.
In his 2014 election against Tom Wolf, the gas industry gave Republican Governor Tom Corbett $2.1 million in more than 500 individual donations. This cycle, they made 16 contributions totaling $30,650 to Wolf’s opponent, Senator Scott Wagner.
Many donations to lawmakers have coincided with legislation in Harrisburg that specifically benefited the fracking industry. In November 2017 — when the House narrowly passed two pro-fracking amendments to House Bill 1401, which was supposed to establish a severance tax — the industry donated $99,000 to state political committees, including a $10,000 check from Chevron’s PAC to Turzai, and another $10,000 from EQT’s PAC to the State Republican Committee. Turzai never brought the severance tax bill to a vote for final passage.
This year, Gov. Wolf proposed a severance tax on natural gas production in his February budget address. In May, right before the budget was finalized, fracking interests donated $89,000 to Pennsylvania campaign committees, including $10,000 from EQT to Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, while Cabot Oil & Gas gave $5,000 each to Turzai and Scarnati. No severance tax was included in the budget the legislature sent back to Gov. Wolf.