BP and several other big European companies are funding the midterm election campaigns of Tea Party favourites who deny the existence of global warming or oppose Barack Obama’s energy agenda, the Guardian has learned.
An analysis of campaign finance by Climate Action Network Europe (Cane) found nearly 80% of campaign donations from a number of major European firms were directed towards senators who blocked action on climate change. These included incumbents who have been embraced by the Tea Party such as Jim DeMint, a Republican from South Carolina, and the notorious climate change denier James Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma.
The report, released tomorrow, used information on the Open Secrets.org database to track what it called a co-ordinated attempt by some of Europe’s biggest polluters to influence the US midterms. It said: “The European companies are funding almost exclusively Senate candidates who have been outspoken in their opposition to comprehensive climate policy in the US and candidates who actively deny the scientific consensus that climate change is happening and is caused by people.”
Obama and Democrats have accused corporate interests and anonymous donors of trying to hijack the midterms by funnelling money to the Chamber of Commerce and to conservative Tea Party groups. The Chamber of Commerce reportedly has raised $75m (£47m) for pro-business, mainly Republican candidates.
“Oil companies and the other special interests are spending millions on a campaign to gut clean-air standards and clean-energy standards, jeopardising the health and prosperity of this state,” Obama told a rally in California on Friday night.
Much of the speculation has focused on Karl Rove, the mastermind of George Bush’s victories, who has raised $15m for Republican candidates since September through a new organisation, American Crossroads. An NBC report warned that Rove was spearheading an effort to inject some $250m in television advertising for Republican candidates in the final days before the 2 November elections.
But Rove, appearing today on CBS television’s Face the Nation, accused Democrats of deploying the same tactics in 2008. “The president of the US had no problem at all when the Democrats did this,” he said. “It was not a threat to democracy when it helped him get elected.”
The Cane report said the companies, including BP, BASF, Bayer and Solvay, which are some of Europe’s biggest emitters, had collectively donated $240,200 to senators who blocked action on global warming – more even than the $217,000 the oil billionaires and Tea Party bankrollers, David and Charles Koch, have donated to Senate campaigns.
The biggest single donor was the German pharmaceutical company Bayer, which gave $108,100 to senators. BP made $25,000 in campaign donations, of which $18,000 went to senators who opposed action on climate change. Recipients of the European campaign donations included some of the biggest climate deniers in the Senate, such as Inhofe of Oklahoma, who has called global warming a hoax.
The foreign corporate interest in America’s midterms is not restricted to Europe. A report by ThinkProgress, operated by the Centre for American Progress, tracked donations to the Chamber of Commerce from a number of Indian and Middle Eastern oil coal and electricity companies.
Foreign interest does not stop with the elections. The Guardian reported earlier this year that a Belgian-based chemical company, Solvay, was behind a front group that is suing to strip the Obama administration of its powers to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.