Saturday, February 1, 1997

Take More Money and Run

Will money and politics in the Senate have environmental consequences?

View and Download the report here: Take More Money And Run

Since 1990, there has been an unprecedented explosion of campaign cash in our electoral process. The Washington Post noted that “Election ‘96 ranked as the costliest ever” (Feb. 9, 1997). Political action committees – especially industry PACs – are one of the main sources of these dollars for congressional races. In the 1995-1996 election cycle, PACs donated a record $186 million to U.S. Senate and House candidates. Contributions from PACs increased $12 million over the 1994 election cycle, and were $62 million more than in the 1990 election cycle.

Anti-environmental PACs contributed $29 million to senators as part of their campaign to weaken environmental laws.

These millions of dollars bought donors access to legislators and tre- mendous leverage over the congressional agenda. The never-ending search for campaign contributions increases the pressure on many senators and representations to advocate special-interest legislation that benefits several hundred large corporations at the expense of the rest of us.

During the past two years, anti-environmental corporations vigorously attempted to convince the U.S. Senate to undo environmental health and safety standards. We searched public disclosure records to determine whether generous contributions from PACs associated with an anti-environmental agenda were an effective tool to help them persuade senators to support such an agenda.