Oregon Republicans are refusing to show up for work at the state legislature while taxpayers continue to pay their salaries. One of the major pieces of legislation their walkouts are blocking is a popular clean energy bill. Vox’s Dave Roberts wrote this extremely helpful piece on the situation this weekend: Oregon Republicans are subverting democracy by running away. Again.
The Oregon League of Conservation Voters put out the following press release today highlighting the oil and gas industry’s historical support of many of the lawmakers who’ve walked out, and the high likelihood that these legislators will get rewarded by corporate polluters for shutting down the legislature to avoid voting on a climate bill.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OLCV Contact: Doug Moore, OLCV Executive Director
(503) 224-4011; firstname.lastname@example.org
PORTLAND, Ore. – The walkouts by Oregon’s Republican senators and representatives are incredibly unpopular with Oregon voters, however, for Republicans, shutting down the legislature by refusing to show up and do their jobs likely means raking in more big campaign contributions from big polluters.
A review of recent donations to the runaway Republicans shows big spending by the fossil fuel industry and other corporate polluters – including a $20,000 spending spree from Koch Industries (see below for detailed accounting of contributions in Oregon).
This tracks with the evidence from a newly published national study.
“Oil and gas companies invest in legislators that vote against the environment,” published on Feb. 24, 2020, by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) is a ground-breaking study, and hits close to home in Oregon by showing how lawmakers are rewarded by the oil and gas industry for opposing environmental bills. The nationwide study looked at members of Congress from 1990 to 2018, comparing voting records using legislators’ scores from the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) and their campaign contributions from oil and gas companies.
According to PNAS’s study, “oil and gas companies seem to provide financial rewards to members of Congress after they have voted against legislation to protect the environment.”
“These results are deeply troubling, and tell us that Oregon’s House and Senate Republicans walking out to stop climate action is really about the big checks from oil and gas companies they will be rewarded with for their 2020 campaigns,” said Doug Moore, executive director of the Oregon League of Conservation Voters (OLCV). “The climate crisis will devastate people living in their districts, and the natural resource economy in Oregon, for generations if we do nothing. The science is clear, so what else explains these politicians’ refusal to even discuss any strong climate action in Oregon?”
The PNAS study found an alarming correlation between the number of anti-environment votes and the amount of campaign contributions they received: “For every additional 10% of congressional votes against the environment in 2014, a legislator would receive an additional $5,400 in campaign contributions from oil and gas companies in 2016.” It also found that legislators who voted against the environment nearly 100% of the time saw their rewards compounded, leading to much higher contributions from oil and gas companies.
“If simply voting against the environment gets rewarded by oil and gas, then Oregon Republicans shutting down our legislature to stop a climate bill from even getting a vote is going to have big polluters reaching for their checkbooks faster than Republicans have been fleeing their jobs,” said Moore. “If the Republicans walking out is really about people and not corporate interests, then they should pledge to refuse any campaign contributions for their 2020 campaigns from oil and gas companies,” continued Moore.
The Senate Republicans also walked out in 2019, twice. Once on behalf of million dollar corporations that didn’t want to pay their fair share for funding our children’s education. The second time, they killed the cap-and-invest bill for climate action, HB 2020 (2019).
Since July 1, 2019, Oregon Republican legislators, those that voted against the bill in the House and those who walked out to kill it in the Senate, have received hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from corporations and industry groups. Even when the 2020 General Election was still a year away, Republican legislators were receiving big checks from big polluters who opposed HB 2020, including the following (source: ORESTAR).
“In Oregon, Republican lawmakers have a long history of being rewarded for their anti-environmental votes with millions of dollars from big polluters,” says Moore.
In March, 2019, The Oregonian’s “Polluted by Money” series, by Rob Davis, highlighted the out-sized influence of big corporations and industry, and how they are directly correlated to weakened environmental protections in our state. Some of the startlingly figures from The Oregonian’s investigation: