Energy Interests, Mostly Fossil Fuels, Give Big to Ohio Campaigns

With the fate of the state’s clean energy standards and the federal Clean Power Plan still unsettled, utility, fossil fuel and nuclear energy interests spent about $3 million in reported contributions for Ohio political campaigns this year through October.

Those figures do not include additional millions funneled through other committees or spending by organizations that are closely aligned with but not clearly identified as representing utility or fossil fuel interests.

For example, PolitiFact reported this summer that groups affiliated with conservative donors Charles and David Koch were spending about $30 million to help incumbent Republican Senator Rob Portman defeat his challenger, former Democratic Governor Ted Strickland.

These types of campaign spending information should matter to voters, said Pete Quist, research director at the National Institute on Money in State Politics, whose online “Follow the Money” database provides information on campaign contributions for Ohio and other states.

“It’s important for the electorate to be able to [put] into context who’s funding a person or running independent ads so they can put those messages into context and [see] who a candidate’s friends or influences might be and what effect on public policy that may have,” Quist explained.

For Ohio, those policies include decisions on renewable energy and energy efficiency standards, the fate of the Clean Power Plan and how the state will comply with it, competition in Ohio’s energy market, payments for oil and gas extraction, and more.

Big Bucks

About $8 million of the Koch-linked money to keep Portman in the Senate came through the groups Freedom Partners Action Fund and Americans for Prosperity, PolitiFact reported. The two groups’ spending topped $11 million by the end of October, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

However, neither Freedom Partners Action Fund nor Americans for Prosperity showed up in the Institute data as making contributions to Ohio candidates…

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