Collins receives more donations from Texas fossil fuel industry than from Maine residents

Collins receives more donations from Texas fossil fuel industry than from Maine residents
© Stefani Reynolds

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsMitch McConnell may win the impeachment and lose the Senate Murkowski wants senators to 'really hear the case' before deciding on impeachment witnesses Republicans will pay on Election Day for politicizing Trump's impeachment MORE (R-Maine) received nearly $50,000 in campaign donations last quarter from the Texas oil and gas industry, a number more than five times the amount in donations she received from Maine residents.

In the first quarter of the 2019 funding year, the senator, who is up for reelection in 2020, snagged roughly $49,300 from Texas-based fossil fuel donors, including the president of Hunt Oil Co. and his wife, and Stephen Chazen, president and CEO at Magnolia Oil and Gas Corporation.

Collins raised just over $1.4 million total this quarter.

Many of the fossil fuel executives who donated maxed out their contributions, along with their spouses, at $2,700, while others donated the max amount to both Collins’s primary and general election campaigns.

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For example, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings, oil and gas investor Patrick Rayes of Dallas donated $5,600 total to both of Collins’s campaigns. Ralph Ellis Jr., an executive at Belmont Petroleum Corp in Irving, Texas gave a total of $5,400.

A handful of PACs linked to big-name fossil fuel companies also contributed to Collins’s reelection in the first quarter, according to filings.

Exxon Mobil Corporation PAC, based out of Irving, Texas, donated $1,000 to Collins, another Irving company, Pioneer Natural Resources, gave the Mainer $2,700, while Houston-based Kirby PAC gave her $2500.

Support from the oil and gas industry to Collins didn’t come just from Texas. The senator also received $5,000 from General Electric’s PAC and $2,500 from nuclear electric power generation giant Exelon Corporation’s PAC.

The donations amounted to a sizable sum for Collins, a senator who has served since 1997 and is often considered a swing vote on many political issues. Collins hasn’t formally announced her reelection campaign but is expected to do so. She is expected to be a Democratic target in 2020, largely thanks to her support for the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughDemocratic group plans mobile billboard targeting Collins on impeachment January reminds us why courts matter — and the dangers of 'Trump judges' Planned Parenthood launches M campaign to back Democrats in 2020 MORE.

In comparison, donations Collins had from individuals and corporations based in her home state of Maine were much less substantial.

Collins received just $9,200 in 17 itemized donations from Maine residents in the same quarter — less than a fifth of the amount of money she hauled in from Texas’s oil and gas leaders.

A spokesperson for Collins’s office did not return a request for an explanation on the high level of donations from the single energy sector in the Lone Star state.

Last week Collins voted in favor of confirming President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rails against impeachment in speech to Texas farmers Trump administration planning to crack down on 'birth tourism': report George Conway on Trump adding Dershowitz, Starr to legal team: 'Hard to see how either could help' MORE’s controversial pick to head the Interior Department, David Bernhardt. Bernhardt, a former energy lobbyist, is currently playing a vital role in expanding drilling on public lands in the U.S. and is leading efforts to draft a new offshore drilling plan in the Atlantic.

Collins said she voted for Bernhardt after getting assurances from him in a letter that the offshore drilling plan would not likely include oil extraction off the coast of Maine.

"It was instrumental in my vote. It was a reassuring letter in which he said that the position of the governor, the congressional delegation, and the legislature would be a determining factor and he recognized the coastal management act and the impact that that would have and that it's binding on the Department," Collins told The Hill last week.

"I do not believe we will see offshore drilling off the state of Maine."

Independent Maine Sen. Angus KingAngus KingCongress struggles on rules for cyber warfare with Iran Democrats brace for round two of impeachment witness fight The Hill's Morning Report - Deescalation: US-Iran conflict eases MORE also voted to confirm Bernhardt.

Not long after Collins’s vote for Bernhardt, Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump's trial a major test for McConnell, Schumer Poll: West Virginia voters would view Manchin negatively if he votes to convict Trump Pelosi set to send impeachment articles to the Senate next week MORE (D-W.Va.) said he would back Collins in her reelection campaign. Manchin, the ranking member on the Senate committee that oversees the Interior Department, largely supported Bernhardt’s nomination, saying he was well qualified. Manchin himself has been considered a controversial pick as the top Democrat overseeing the committee, considering his state’s ties to the coal industry.

Collins is "a dear friend," Manchin said on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” program. "I would go up and campaign for her ... For America to lose someone like Susan Collins would be an absolute shame. I feel that strongly about this lady."

Smiling, Manchin asked, "Do you think my party would be happy?"