Three of the five big oil company CEOs testifying before the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday made significant political contributions to Republicans, according to a Washington Post analysis.
Chevron Chief Executive John Watson, Exxon Mobil Chief Executive Rex Tillerson and Conoco Phillips Chief Executive James Mulva have made a combined total of $258,870 in political donations since 1990. Of that amount, $237,670, or 92 percent, was contributed to Republicans.
The trio, along with Shell Oil Company President Marvin Odum and BP America Chairman and President Lamar McKay, were on the hotseat Thursday as Senate Finance Committee members grilled them on their record earnings and tax subsidies at a time when consumers are paying more than $4 per gallon at the pump.
Congressional Democrats have been pushing for the elimination of $21 billion in tax breaks over the next decade for the country’s five biggest oil companies, while Republicans have countered that the move would unfairly target the industry and would not immediately relieve rising gas prices.
Exxon’s Tillerson leads the trio with $131,920 in donations over the past two decades. All $131,920 of that amount went to Republicans, including $1,000 to Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who lost her GOP Senate primary in 2010 but ran as a write-in candidate.
Chevron’s Watson has made a total of $69,300 in political donations, while Conoco’s Mulva has given $57,650. Both chief executives contributed all but $10,000 to Republicans.
All three made more than half of their political contributions since 2004, with Tillerson and Watson making half or close to half of their donations during the 2010 cycle alone.
Tillerson contributed the bulk of the $59,920 he gave in the 2010 cycle to Republican campaign committees, including $30,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, $10,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee, $2,820 to the Republican National Committee and $2,000 to the Texas Republican Congressional Committee.
Watson gave $39,600 in the 2010 cycle, of which $25,000 went to the NRSC and $5,000 went to the NRCC.
Mulva made only a single donation of $4,800 in the 2010 cycle; that amount went to Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska.
Records only show one contribution each from Odum and McKay. Odum gave $1,000 to former senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) in 2008 and McKay gave $1,000 to Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) in 2007.
At Thursday’s hearing, the five CEOs defended their companies’ performance and made the case that doing away with their subsidies would lead to higher energy prices and fewer jobs.
“We have shackles on us,” Mulva told the committee, as The Post’s Steven Mufson reports. “Put us back to work.”
Staff writer Paul Kane contributed to this report.