The third or fourth report by Common Cause PA on political spending (campaign contributions and lobbying) by the natural gas industry reveals nothing new. According to Common Cause, the Political Action Committees, employees, and shareholders of natural gas companies—not the companies themselves, though the report fails to make that clear—spent $6 million in campaign contributions to Pennsylvania candidates from 2001 to 2011.
That sum is dwarfed by campaign spending by union PACs—more than $20 million each election cycle. Union PACS spent at least $23 million in 2009-10 and $27 million in 2007-08. Unions outspend the gas industry, and its supporters, by more than 10 to one.
Why hasn’t Common Cause studied union political spending? Or for that matter, where is the study of political spending of “alternative energy” interests that advocate not only for freedom to operate in the state, but for taxpayer subsidies and mandates to buy their product?
While Common Cause tries to claim this report shows the need for campaign finance restrictions, their proposed solution is to mirror federal limits. This is odd, since their national affiliate released a report decrying too much money in federal politics (and even at the federal level, unions dominate political spending). You won’t get “money out of politics” as long as politicians determine who gets all the money.
Rather, Common Cause stood by with several other groups that advocate not for “good government” but for redistribution of wealth from gas drillers to other special interests.
By solely demonizing one industry, which is a small player in political money, and overlooking the failure of campaign finance laws to limit big government, Common Cause is simply embracing “Frack-a-phobia” to advance a redistributionist political agenda.