Analysis of campaign finance reports: Ag, environmental interests spent generously in second half of 2017

Analysis of campaign finance reports: Ag, environmental interests spent generously in second half of 2017

- in Environment, Top Story
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Dominion Energy’s political action committee contributed more than $31,000 to state lawmakers in the final six months of 2017, most of it within 10 days of an override vote on Senate Bill 16.

That measure, “Business Regulatory Reform Act of 2017,” contained a key provision for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The omnibus bill allows out-of-state companies, like Virginia-based Dominion, to use eminent domain to secure land to build pipelines.

Sponsored by Senators Andy Wells, Tamara Barringer and Warren Daniel, the bill included other controversial proposals relaxing regulations on landfills and mining

Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed SB 16 on Aug. 14. On Sept. 25, Dominion spread $18,300 among 21 lawmakers, plus Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, who would have voted had there been a tie. And on Oct. 5, both chambers overrode the veto without the need for Forest’s vote.

The figures were released as part of the required year-end campaign finance reports, due last Friday.

This degree of corporate largesse is not unusual, and lawmakers consistently claim their votes are not influenced by campaign contributions. However, for a non-election year, many legislators on environmental committees raised significant sums.

Other than House and Senate leadership, Dominion contributed most of its money to lawmakers on key environmental committees. Dominion, though, is not the only corporate interest throwing money at legislators.

Duke Energy did not contribute in the last half of the year, but PSNC, the gas company it owns, did: $31,000 of its total $47,000 went to legislators on relevant committees, including House and Senate leadership.

McGuireWoods, a Virginia-based law firm, represents the interests of many companies, including Smithfield and Dominion. It anted up $92,000 in contributions.

The North Carolina Pork Council reliably gives; the powerful interest group delivered 70 percent of its $49,500 to environmental committee members, plus a total of $10,000 to the House and Senate Republican caucuses. And clean energy, trying to ensure the passage of House Bill 589, the solar legislation, also chipped in: $17,700.

The billboard industry also gave a small amount — less than $5,000. Their legislation, which would have provided for the clear-cutting of trees to make their outdoor advertisements more visible, died on the House floor after sputtering out of committees.

Policy Watch analyzed campaign finance reports from July 1 through Dec. 31, 2017, for legislators who serve on key committees related to the environment and agriculture.

Here are the top-grossing lawmakers who served on any of these committees: Appropriations Agriculture and Natural Resources, Environmental Review Commission, Environment, and Energy Policy and Utilities and related joint committees.

House Democrats House Republicans
Ken Goodman $50,650
Duane Hall $44,545
Michael Wray $32,437
Greg Murphy $188,096
John Bell $104,62
Chris Malone $50,000
Senate Democrats Senate Republicans
Jay Chaudhuri $62,131
Jeff Jackson $45,047
Brent Jackson $290,998
Bill Rabon  $230,825
Mike Lee $88,381

The motives of the contributors aren’t always clear from the campaign finance reports. For example, Glover Construction gave $3,000 to Democrat Michael Wray, who represents Halifax and Northampton counties. Glover is headquartered in Northampton County, yes, but it also contracts with Duke Energy to build lined coal ash basins. In Garysburg last year, Glover representatives spoke in support of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline; the company could be contracted to work on that project.

John Droz, who lists himself as a scientist but has made his money in real estate, gave just $100 to Republican George Cleveland of Onslow County. A small amount, but it came from a climate change denier who unofficially lobbies lawmakers to oppose wind power; several years ago, Cleveland was among lawmakers who invited Droz to the General Assembly to give a presentation on his doubts about climate change.

Below are tables showing lawmakers, their relevant committees and amounts raised by sector. Agriculture includes individual farmers, as well as the Farm Bureau, Monsanto and the Pork Council. Oil, gas and energy includes Dominion, PSNC and the solar industry. Engineers, architects, construction companies, Realtors and developers — and attorneys specializing in that sector — are counted in real estate. Environmental business interests encompass waste management and similar sectors. Environmental advocates are nonprofits or their members.

These tables also include lawmakers who had not filed their reports as of Jan. 29; they were due Jan. 26.

Senate Republicans

MemberCountyCommitteesTotal raisedAg/forestryOil/gas/energyReal estate/development and related industriesEnvironment (industry)Environment (advocates)
John AlexanderWakeAg/Enviro/Natural Resources$2,850
Dan BishopMecklenburgRiver Quality, Jt Energy Policy, Environmental Review Commission$74,150$250$11,125
Earl Britt JrColumbus, RobesonAENRNOT FILED
Bill CookBeaufort, Camden, Hyde, Pasquotank, Currituck, Dare, Gates, PerquimansAENR, ANER Approps, Ag Resources Oversight, ERC$1,048$1,000
Cathy DunnDavidson, MontgomeryAENR$0
Rick GunnAlamance, RandolphANER Appropriations$15,250$3,500$2,750$500
Frank IlerBrunswickAppropriations, Environment, River Quality, ERC$37,207$500$12,800
Brent JacksonDuplin, Johnston, SampsonAENR, River Quality, ERC, Ag Resources Oversight$290,998$135,500$9,150$14,350$10,400
Mike LeeNew HanoverRiver Quality$88,381$2,500$44,150$1,000
Tom McInnisAnson, Richond, Rowan, Scotland, StanlyAENR$71,068$10,400$6,950
Wesley MeredithCumberlandAENR$20,111$3,250$2,000$2,000
Paul NewtonCabarrus, UnionAENR, ANER Approps, River Quality, Jt Energy PolicyNOT FILED
Bill Rabon*Bladen, Brunswick, New Hanover, PenderRiver Quality$230,82592501650237001000
Ron RabinHarnett, Johnston, LeeAENR0
Norman SandersonCarteret, Craven PamlicoAENR, River Quality, Ag Resources Oversight, ERC$2,250$1,000
Jeff TarteMecklenburgJt Energy PolicyNOT FILED
Jerry TillmanMoore, RandolphJt Energy PolicyNOT FILED
Trudy WadeGuilfordAENR, ANER Approps, River Quality, ERC, Ag Resources OversightNOT FILED
Andy WellsAlexander, CatawbaAENR, River Quality, ERC, Ag Resources Oversight$51,950$1,100$9,100$2,000

Senate Democrats

MemberCountyCommitteesTotal contributionsAgriculture, forestryOil, gas, energyReal estate/development related industriesEnvironment (industry)Environment (advocates)
Angela BryantHalifax, Nash, Vance, Warren, WilsonAENR, ANER Approps, River Quality, ERC $1,615.00
Jay ChaudhuriWakeAENR $62,131.00 $500.00 $1,350.00
Ben ClarkCumberland, HokeANER Appropriations $1,654.00
Jeff JacksonMecklenburgAENR $45,057.00 $100.00$950.00 $3,550.00 $300.00$20.00
Erica SmithBertie, Chowan, Edgecombe, Hertford, Martin, Northampton, Tyrrell, WashingtonAENR, River Quality, ERC $7,040.00 $1,250.00
Joyce WaddellMecklenburgAENR, Jt Energy Policy$50.00
Mike WoodardDurham, Person, CaswellAENRNOT FILED

House Republicans

MemberCountiesCommitteesTotal contributionsAg/forestryOil, gas, energyReal estate/development and related industriesEnvironment (industry)Environment (advocates)Billboards
Dean ArpUnionAppropriations, Energy & Public Utilities $25,250.00 $500.00 $3,000.00 $10,600.00
John BellCraven, Greene, Lenoir and WayneAg, Appropriations, Energy & Public Utilities $104,622.00 $13,000.00 $3,850.00 $13,150.00 $3,000.00
Hugh BlackwellBurkeAppropriations, Energy & Public UtilitiesNOT FILED
Beverly BoswellBeaufort, Dare, Hyde, WashingtonAg, Appropriations $5,200.00
John BradfordMecklenburgEnvironment, Energy and Public Utilities $11,350.00 $3,750.00 $1,100.00
Mark BrodyAnson, UnionAg, Appropriations $7,475.00 $3,000.00 $500.00
Dana BumgardnerGastonAppropriations, Energy & Public Utilities $21,403.00 $1,750.00 $1,400.00
George ClevelandOnslowAg, Appropriations $1,400.00 $100.00$200.00
Jimmy DixonDuplin, WayneAg, Appropriations, ANER Approps, Environment, River Quality, ERC, Jt Energy Policy, Jt ANER Oversight $27,100.00 $24,050.00 $100.00
Jeff CollinsFranklin, NashEnvironment, Energy & Public Utilities$-
Jeffrey ElmoreAlleghany, WilkesAppropriations, Energy & Public Utilities $1,350.00 $250.00$250.00
Holly GrangeNew HanoverAppropriations, River Quality, ERC $49,270.00 $600.00 $2,800.00 $5,350.00
Kelly HastingsCleveland, GastonEnergy & Public Utilities $19,163.00 $1,200.00 $1,850.00
Bert JonesCaswell, RockinghamAgriculture $3,980.00
Brenden JonesBladen, Columbus, RobesonAg, AppropriationsNOT FILED
David LewisHarnettAg, AppropriationsNOT FILED
Chris MaloneWakeAppropriations, Energy & Public Utilities $50,000.00 $3,000.00 $5,000.00 $250.00
Susan MartinPitt, WilsonAg, Energy & Public Utils $2,600.00
Chuck McGradyHendersonEnvironment, Appropriations, River Quality, ERC, Jt Oversight ANER $42,175.00 $2,175.00 $2,225.00 $2,800.00 $325.00
Greg MurphyPittAppropriations, Energy & Public Utilities $188,096.00 $1,500.00 $1,750.00 $6,800.00
Dennis RiddellAlamanceAg, Appropriations, Energy & Public Utilities $11,595.00 $850.00$100.00$500.00
David RogersBurke, RutherfordAppropriations, Energy & Public UtilitiesNOT FILED
John SaulsHarnett, LeeAppropriations, Energy & Public UtilitiesNOT FILED
Bob SteinburgCamden, Chowan, Currituck, Pasquotank, Perquimans, TyrrellAg, Enviro, River Quality, ERC $25,639.00 $3,750.00 $750.00 $2,325.00 $5,000.00
Larry StricklandJohnstonAg, Appropriations, Energy & Public Utilities, Environment $11,150.00 $1,600.00 $500.00$500.00
Rena TurnerIredellAg, Appropriations$400.00
Sam WatfordDavidsonAppropriations, Energy & Public Utilities, Jt Oversight, Ag, Nat & Econ Resources Jt Commission Energy Policy $7,850.00 $300.00 $1,250.00
Lee ZacharyAlexander, Wilkes, YadkinAppropriations, Energy & Public Utilities$500.00$500.00

House Democrats

MemberCountiesCommitteesTotal contributionsAgriculture, forestryOil, gas, energyReal estate/development and related industriesEnvironment (industry)Environment (advocates) 
Kelly AlexanderMecklenburgEnergy & Public UtilitiesNOT FILED
John AutryMecklenburgAppropriations, Environment $2,969.00 $500.00$40.00
John AgerBuncombeAg, Appropriations, Approps Ag, Nat, Econ Resources $4,261.00
Larry BellDuplin, Sampson, WayneAg, Appropriations$225.00
Cecil BrockmanGuilfordAg, Appropriations, EnvironmentNOT FILED
Carla CunninghamMecklenburgAppropriations, Energy & Public Utilities $7,765.00 $500.00 $1,050.00 $40.00
Beverly EarleMecklenburgAppropriations, Energy & Public Utilities $1,101.00 $500.00
Elmer FloydCumberlandRiver Quality, Appropriations $4,833.00 $500.00
Ken GoodmanHoke, Montgomery, Richmond, ScotlandEnergy & Public Utilities, Jt Commission Energy Policy $50,650.00 $4,000.00 $4,350.00 $8,300.00 $500.00
Charles GrahamRobesonAg, AppropriationsNOT FILED
George GrahamCraven, Greene, LenoirAg, AppropriationsNOT FILED
Duane HallWakeAppropriations, Energy & Public Utilities $44,545.00 $700.00 $14,000.00
Terry GarrisonGranville, Vance, WarrenAppropriations, Environment $7,120.00 $500.00 $1,100.00
Pricey HarrisonGuilfordRiver Quality, Appropriations Approps Ag, Nat & Econ Resources, Energy & Public Utilities, Environment, ERC, Jt Oversight Ag, Nat & Econ Resources, Jt Comm Energy PolicyNOT FILED
Howard Hunter IIIBertie, Gates, Hertford, PasquotankAg, Appropriations, Approp Ag, Nat & Econ Resources,NOT FILED
Grier MartinWakeAppropriations, EnvironmentNOT FILED
Rodney MooreMecklenburgEnergy & Public Utils, Jt Energy PolicyNOT FILED
Marcia MoreyDurhamEnvironment $29,156.00 $800.00$300.00
Robert ReivesChatham, LeeAgricultureNOT FILED
Billy RichardsonCumberland,NOT FILED
Bobbie RichardsonFranklin, NashAppropriations, Approp Ag, Nat & Econ Resources,NOT FILED
Evelyn TerryForsythAppropriations, EnvironmentNOT FILED
Michael WrayHalifax, NorthamptonAppropriations, Approp Ag, Nat & Econ Resources, Energy & Public Utilities $32,437.00 $5,300.00 $9,000.00 $900.00