Fracking debate fuels campaign gifts to lawmakers

As North Carolina lawmakers take up a new bill on hydraulic fracturing, the much-debated energy drilling method commonly known as “fracking,” a new report finds that energy interests tied to fracking gave campaign contributions to more than 100 state legislators between 2009 and 2011.

The report by N.C. Voters for Clean Elections, a state coalition focused on the role of money in politics, also finds that legislators who supported a pro-fracking bill in 2011 received more than triple the amount of campaign money from energy interests than did opponents of the legislation.

The study focuses on campaign contributions from 10 energy-related companies involved in the fracking debate. In 2011, a bill to study allowing fracking in North Carolina passed the N.C. House by a vote of 69-42 and the N.C. Senate by a 35-10 majority; however, the House failed to reach the three-fifths needed to override the veto by Gov. Beverly Perdue.

This session, lawmakers are again considering a bill that could open the door to fracking in the state.

Other key findings of the report:

-Between 2009 and 2011, the 10 fracking-related firms donated $299,900 to the campaign committees of N.C. House members who voted for SB 709 last year, and just $91,400 to those who voted against it.

-In the N.C. Senate, these companies gave $208,700 to those who voted for SB 709, and $50,150 to those who voted against in the N.C. Senate.

-N.C. House Speaker Rep. Thom Tillis (although did not vote on the bill but helped move it along for floor vote) received $43,650 in contributions from the companies, nearly half (48.3%) of what all 42 Representatives who voted against the bill received combined. President Pro Tempore Sen. Phil Berger (only voted once during 2nd reading) received $46,700, 93.1% of what all 10 Senators who voted against received as a unit.

-Senator Bob Rucho introduced SB 709 in the Senate and is a strong proponent of fracking. He also received a total of $20,500 from the fracking industry participants included in the study, 40.9% of what all 10 Senators who voted against received as a unit.

Find full report here.