Following the lead of the Obama campaign, which released an ad Monday depicting John McCain as being in "the pocket" of Big Oil, Democratic House aides are circulating a list that shows that leaders of the House GOP rebellion have all received significant contributions from oil companies.
This appears to be a diversion strategy by Democrats, who are still trying to dismiss the Republican floor takeover as "silliness." The House Republicans are clearly energized by the media coverage of their Friday and Monday House floor takeover, and Democrats are trying to take them down a notch.
The Democrats are basically saying "follow the money" on the energy debate, pointing out that lawmakers leading the Republican theatrics include Mike Pence (R-Ind.), who received $150,000 in oil company contributions, and Mike Conaway (R-Texas) who received $487,000 in contributions. The list of oil money recipients includes about 20 Republican lawmakers, all of whom have been involved in the faux floor sessions.
"Whether the House is in session or not, the Republicans on the floor today have always gone out of their way to protect the oil companies that fund their campaigns," the Democratic memo says. "All told, the House Republicans leading this week’s efforts have taken more than $3 million in campaign contributions from Big Oil companies."
The memo doesn't lay out exactly how much money the oil industry has given to Democrats, but stats from the Center for Responsive Politics show the industry contributed 26 percent of its donations to Democrats and 74 percent to Republicans.
Democrats also point out that Republicans have voted against at least 10 Democratic energy proposals, including a measure that would force oil companies to drill within existing Gulf of Mexico leases. The Democrats have refused, however, to allow votes on drilling in new areas currently under a moratorium.