A coalition of advocates called on an anti-corruption panel to probe campaign donations from pro-hydrofracking interests Monday, after a good-government group detailed more than $14 million in contributions to politicians and political parties.
According to Common Cause/NY, a total of 183 entities who support shale-gas drilling donated to campaigns since January 2007, with some of the state Legislature’s top fracking advocates on the receiving end.
Sen. Thomas Libous, R-Binghamton, was the biggest beneficiary, with his campaign taking in $353,205, according to the analysis.
“Powerful businesses and industries which stand to benefit from fracking use campaign contributions to gain influence with their local lawmakers, candidates, and party organizations,” Common Cause/NY Executive Director Susan Lerner said in a statement. “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.”
(Of note: Common Cause’s national parent received $215,000 since 2010 from the Park Foundation, an Ithaca-based philanthropic fund who has provided grants to dozens of anti-fracking groups, to fund various iterations of its report. The group also received $100,000 from Park this year for its “Media and Democracy Reform Initiative.”)
A total of 16 pro-drilling entities donated more than $250,000 since 2007, Common Cause found. They’re led by Hiscock & Barclay, an Albany-based law firm and lobbying group that has spent close to $753,000 on campaign donations.
Fair Elections for New York, a coalition of groups pushing for a public campaign finance option in the state, issued a statement calling on the Moreland Commission—an anti-corruption panel empowered last month by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman—to subpoena records involving the donations.
Common Cause’s analysis included donations not just from the gas industry, but from firms, companies and unions who have supported shale-gas drilling. In many cases, the entities have interests in Albany other than fracking, including General Electric and major law firms like Harris Beach. Hiscock & Barclay represents oil-and-gas companies and, through a subsidiary, pro-drilling landowners, along with various other energy, real estate and corporate interests.
If the pro-drilling interests are donating in hopes of getting a green light for high-volume fracking in New York, so far they have been unsuccessful. On Tuesday, a de facto moratorium on large-scale fracking in New York will have been in place for five years.