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Introduction

Last year, Ethics Watch published Spend Baby Spend, a report looking at the oil
and gas industrys spending on lobbying and elections in Colorado.1 This new report,
Money Spill, looks at oil and gas spending in the 2014 election cycle that just
concluded.
Looking only at disclosed spending not spending by dark-money nonprofits or
trade associations 2014 saw a titanic money spill compared to election spending by
the oil and gas industry in the past. While our 2013 report showed that oil and gas spent
over $800,000 on Colorado state elections (not including United States Senate or
Congressional elections) over two election cycles (2010 and 2012), this years report
shows that the industry spent a whopping $11.79 million on the 2014 election for
Colorado state offices.
The vast majority of this spending came from a ballot issue committee formed to
oppose anti-fracking initiatives that never made the ballot. Even after the anti-fracking
initiatives were withdrawn, the industry-funded issue committee spent millions on
canvassing and get-out-the-vote efforts in 2014.
Even outside of that issue committee, however, oil and gas election spending
jumped from approximately $400,000 to candidates, PACs, 527s and political parties
for the 2010 and 2012 election cycles to over $914,000 in 2014.
It remains to be seen whether the oil and gas industrys investment in Colorado
politics pays off. A task force established by the governor to review Colorado oil and gas
exploration regulations has not issued any recommendations, and the new General
Assembly has just begun.
Our hope is that by shining a light on the oil and gas industrys investment in the
outcome of Colorados recent elections, citizens will be better able to hold public
officials accountable if they put private industrys interests over the common good.

Spend Baby Spend report is available at http://www.coloradoforethics.org/co-pages/spendbaby-spend (May 2013).

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I.

Oil and Gas Industry Money Spills into 2014 State Elections

In our review of 2014 cycle filings in the state campaign finance system
(TRACER) we identified 28 oil and gas companies or trade associations that spent
money in state elections. [Table A] The contributions from these companies totaled
$11,655,197. Because corporations are prohibited by state law from giving money
directly to state candidates directly, the majority of oil and gas company money was
contributed to political committees (PACs) and political organizations which are
registered to be involved in state candidate elections and state ballot issue
committees. Oil and gas companies contributed $779,950 to a bipartisan mix of state
PACs and political organizations. However, as discussed in more detail below, the
largest political sector flooded with oil and gas money in this election was issue
committees. Over $10.8 million was given by oil and gas companies to issue
committees almost all of it to one committee created to oppose fracking bans and
similar measures: Protecting Colorados Environment, Economy & Energy
Independence (PCEEEI).
Under the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. FEC, corporations and
associations may use corporate funds for political advertising that mentions a state
candidate. However, our review of the 2014 filings for such corporate independent
expenditures and electioneering communications shows that none of these oil and
gas companies chose to undertake such direct political spending. Instead, these
companies donated their money to PACs and political organizations, which in turn
contributed money to state candidates and ran political advertisements.

Oil & Gas contributions in


2014 state elections
1%
7%
Issue Committees
Candidates
92%

PACs/527s

In addition to direct political spending by oil and gas companies and associations,
14 registered PACs or 572 organizations sponsored by the oil and gas industry spent
$130,800 in the 2014 state elections. [Table B] Most of this money was spent in direct
contributions to candidate committees (as discussed in more detail later in this report),
but $56,500 was given to other PACs or political organizations. Although PACs often

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spend money on electioneering advertisements targeting certain candidates, it does not


appear any of these oil and gas industry PACs did such advertising in the 2014
elections. Instead, these PACs chose to focus on contributing money directly to
candidates and other political entities (which may have done candidate-specific
advertising). Perhaps surprisingly, very little money was donated to the state political
parties in the 2014 cycle: only $1,000 to the Larimer County Republican Party and
$5,925 to the state-wide Colorado Democratic Party.
According to National Institute on Money in State Politics database, individuals
employed in the oil and gas industry also contributed over $189,220 to state candidates
in the 2014 election.2 We did not conduct any further research in the state TRACER
system regarding individual contributors. This report is based on spending by oil and
gas companies, associations, and PACs.

II.

Candidates Supported by Oil & Gas Money

A. Contributions to candidate campaigns from Oil & Gas PACs


Because oil and gas corporations cannot contribute money directly to state
candidates, our research traced contributions to candidates from the 14 registered
PACs sponsored by the industry. Oil and gas sponsored PACs contributed a total of
$70,200 to state candidate committees. A bipartisan group of 86 state and county
candidates received contributions from oil and gas industry PACs. The 28 Democratic
candidates who received contributions were mostly incumbent lawmakers. In contrast,
many of the 58 Republican candidates supported by oil and gas PACs were
challengers.
Oil and gas industry PACs also gave contributions in three out of four statewide
races on the 2014 ballot. The largest amount of activity was in the Governor and
Attorney General races two positions which have influence over energy policy and
litigation related to contentious issues like local fracking bans.3 While these PACs
unanimously supported the Republican candidate for AG, they almost completely
supported the incumbent Governor, with only one reported contribution to his
Republican challenger. In the Attorney General election, five oil and gas PACs
contributed a total of $4,850 to Republican candidate Cynthia Coffman. Governor
Hickenloopers re-election campaign received $9,200 from nine oil and gas PACs, while
Republican candidate Bob Beauprez received one oil and gas PAC donation of $1,100
from a PAC that had already maxed-out to Governor Hickenloopers campaign. In
fact, two of the larger oil company PACs gave almost maximum-level contributions to
the Governors re-election campaign right after he took office.

This database can be found at http://www.followthemoney.org/.


The third statewide race affected by oil and gas industry money was the Treasurers office.
Treasurer Walker Stapletons re-election campaign received three contributions from oil and gas
PACs totaling $1,550.
3

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B. Oil & Gas Companies & PACs find another way to support
candidates
Another way that oil and gas industry PACs sought to maximize support for
incumbent legislators was by donating to leadership PACs in the 2014 election. A
leadership PAC is a registered political committee separate from a state legislators
campaign committee with the explicit purpose of helping that legislator and other
candidates from that legislators political party. Often, the legislator is the registered
agent for the PAC and that legislators name is in the title of the PAC, such as the
Carroll Leadership PAC established by Senator Morgan Carroll. Other times the PAC
name is generic and the affiliated legislator is listed as the registered agent on public
filings, such as the Peak Leadership Committee established by Senator Bill Cadman.
Some incumbents hide their affiliation with a PAC by having a friend or relative listed as
the registered agent.
The use of these leadership PACs by incumbent legislators (and even some new
candidates) was more common in the 2014 state election cycle than in prior years.
Usually these leadership PACs take in corporate, individual, union and other PAC
contributions and then make contributions to individual candidate committees,
spreading the money around to many candidates. Leadership PACs can also be used to
co-sponsor events and provide logistical support for a candidates committee, so long
as that non-monetary support is reported and under the contribution limitations.
Leadership PACs can accept corporate contributions (which are prohibited for
candidate committees) and have higher limits than candidate committees because they
can receive up to $550 per election cycle. In this way, leadership PACs offer an
alternative for oil and gas companies to support a legislator with corporate money that
cannot be donated to a campaign, or to provide an additional contribution after a
maxed-out contribution to a campaign.
Twenty-seven state leadership PACs were identified as receiving money from oil
and gas industry companies or industry PACs in the 2014 election, with all but four of
them accepting corporate contributions from oil and gas companies that would not be
acceptable for their personal campaign committee. [Table C] This was again a
bipartisan group of state legislators that benefitted from oil and gas contributions to
leadership PACs: eleven Republicans and sixteen Democrats. A total of $18,750 in oil
and gas direct corporate contributions and $7,000 in contributions from oil and gas
PACs were given to leadership PACs in the 2014 election cycle.

III.

Protecting Colorado's Environment, Economy & Energy


Independence (PCEEEI) Issue Committee Spending

An issue committee called Protecting Colorados Environment, Economy &


Energy Independence(PCEEEI) was registered on January 22, 2014 with the stated
purpose to support state and local ballot initiatives promoting responsible oil and gas
development, and oppose state and local ballot initiatives attempting to limit or ban oil

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and gas development, including any ban or restriction on hydraulic fracturing. While
there were a number of pro- and anti- fracking ballot measures submitted through the
title board process and collecting signatures, a compromise was announced on
August 4, 2014 which resulted in none of these measures being submitted for ballot
access. Yet, PCEEEI continued to operate.
PCEEEI raised a total amount of $11,618,971 in 2014, almost exclusively from
16 oil and gas companies. The largest donors were Anadarko Petroleum Corporation
and Noble Energy who each contributed approximately $4,115,235 of corporate funds
to the issue committee. PCEEEI still received $325,000 in corporate contributions after
the ballot measure compromise was announced in August, even though it was clear no
statewide ballot measure would be decided in that election.
PCEEI went on to spend almost all of the money raised in 2014. The committee
has reported total expenditures of $10,839,603. While some of that money is for legal
and accounting fees, approximately $5.8 million was spent before the August
compromise on campaign consulting, paid signature gathering, public opinion research
& advertising. More interesting is that PCEEEI spent another $4.9 million after the
compromise was announced and it was clear no statewide ballot measure would be
decided. Over $3.5 million was spent for voter file, campaign strategy, marketing,
research, polling, tracking, digital, TV and radio advertising after the August
compromise. In addition, at least $1.2 million was spent for canvassing in October
2014. Without a specific statewide ballot measure to support or oppose, it appears this
canvassing and advertising was focused more on general support for the oil and gas
industry in Colorado.

PCEEEI Spending in 2014


($10.84 million total)
46%
54%

Pre-Aug Compromise
($5.8 mil)
Post-Aug Compromise
($4.9 mil)

PCEEEI still has $779,367.78 cash on hand as of the December 4, 2014


reporting deadline. It is unclear what that money will be used for going forward.

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Table A:
Oil and gas companies or trade associations that spent money
in 2014 Colorado Elections
Anadarko Petroleum Corp
Anschutz Corp
Atmos Energy
Bill Barrett Corp
Chesapeake Energy Corp
Chevron Corp
Chief Petroleum Co
Dcp Midstream
Encana Oil & Gas
Exxonmobil
G & S Services Co
Gray Oil Co
Kum & Go
Marathon Oil
McWhinney Holding Company
Noble Energy
Occidental Petroleum Corp
Offen Petroleum Inc
Paladin Energy Partners Llc
PDC Energy
Petron Development Co
Pioneer Natural Resources
Qep Resources
VIS Op Oil
West Slope Co Oil & Gas Assn
Whiting Oil & Gas Corp.
WPX Energy

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Table B:
Registered PACs & 527s sponsored by the oil and gas industry that
spent money in 2014 Colorado Elections
Anadarko Petroleum PAC
Atmos Energy Corporation PAC
Chesapeake Energy Corporation Fed PAC
Colorado Energy Education Pac (CEEPAC)
Colorado Petroleum Marketers Association PAC
Colorado Petroleum PAC
Colorado Wyoming Petroleum Marketers Association Action Fund
Fund For Colorado's Energy Future
Noble Energy PAC (Federal PAC)
Occidental Petroleum Corp PAC (Federal)
PDC Energy Inc. Colorado PAC
QEP Resources PAC
Whiting Petroleum Corporation PAC/Whiting Petroleum Corporation PAC FEC
WPX Energy, Inc. PAC

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Table C:
State Legislator Leadership PACs which received industry money
in 2014 Colorado Elections
Name of Leadership PAC

Candidate/ Legislator
affiliated with PAC

Aguilar Leadership Fund


Angela Williams Leadership Fund
Carroll Leadership PAC
Dan Nordberg Political Committee
Dominick Moreno Political Committee
(DOMPAC)
FrankPAC
Garnett Leadership Fund
Guzman Green Fund for a Better Colorado

Irene Aguilar
Angela Williams
Morgan Carroll
Dan Nordberg

John P. Morse Leadership PAC


Kathleen's PAC
Kevin's Political Action Committee (KPAC)
McCann Leadership PAC
Pabon Leadership Fund
Peak Leadership Committee
PollyPAC
Rosenthal Majority Fund
SzaboPAC
Ulibarri Leadership Initiative Political Action
Committee Political Action Committee (ULIPAC)

Dominick Moreno
Frank McNulty
Alex Garnett
Lucia Guzman
John Morse
Kathleen Conti
Kevin Priola
Beth McCann
Dan Pabon
Cadman
Polly Lawrence
Paul Rosenthal
Lizzy Szabo

Jessie Ulibarri
Waller's Outstanding Leadership Fund
Jenise May Leadership Fund
Wolf PAC
Dickey Lee Hullinghorst Leadership Fund

Mark Waller
Jenise May
Mary Hodge
Dickey Lee Hullinghorst
Cheri Jahn
James Wilson
Crisanta Duran
Brian DelGrasso
Bob Rankin

CheriPAC
WilsonPAC
Duran for CO Leadership
BrianPAC
Transmountain Political Action

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Research methodology
1. We started with a list of oil & gas entities active in Colorado elections for the 2014
election cycle as compiled at www.followthemoney.org, a project of the Montanabased National Institute on Money in State Politics.
2. Followthemoney.org also provided the total amount contributed to candidates by
individuals employed in the oil & gas industry for 2014 cycle but we did not dig
deeper into these numbers.
3. We then searched the Colorado Secretary of States TRACER database (located at
http://tracer.sos.colorado.gov) for political spending information regarding these
entitiescorporations, trade associations, and their sponsored PACs. Because
corporations remain prohibited from making direct contributions to state-level
candidates in Colorado, corporate political money (from oil and gas companies and
trade associations) usually flowed to five types of political groups:

Political committees (a/k/a PACs), groups that are subject to contribution limits
and can make both direct contributions to candidates and independent
expenditures expressly supporting of or opposed to candidates;

Political organizations (a/k/a 527s), groups that are not subject to contribution
limits but cannot make direct contributions to candidates and who may spend
money to support or oppose candidates so long as they avoid using magic
words that expressly advocate for or against a candidate;

Independent expenditure committees (a/k/a Super-PACs), groups which are


not subject to contribution limits and may not make direct contributions to
candidates, but who may make independent expenditures that constitute
express advocacy (this type of organization sprung up in the wake of the
Supreme Courts decision in Citizens United v. F.E.C., 558 U.S. 310 (2010));

Political party committees (e.g., the Colorado Democratic Party and Colorado
Republican Party and their county and local counterparts); and

Issue committees, groups that may raise unlimited money to support or oppose
ballot initiatives and referenda.

4. Once we identified the list of oil and gas industry sponsored PACs, we identified
through TRACER reports the candidates who received contributions (from PACs).
This enabled us to determine how many candidates and state & local races were
influenced by oil and gas industry spending.
5. In order to determine whether a PAC receiving contributions from oil and gas
companies, trade associations and sponsored PACs should be counted as a
leadership PAC, we reviewed the name and registered agent information for that
PAC in TRACER to see if it referred to a candidate or legislator.

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