Since the gasohol boom began, Archer Daniels Midland Co. has fueled the cause of farm-grown fuel with cash and political connections. Working hand in hand with the Midwest's most influential farm organizations, ADM's political action committee has pumped more than $232,000 into the coffers of Democratic and Republican lawmakers since 1979.
These funds have flowed to such key gasohol supporters as House Minority Leader Robert Michel (R-Ill.), $8,000; former senator Charles Percy (R-Ill.), $15,000; Sen. James Exon (D-Neb.), $3,500; Sen. David Durenberger (R-Minn.), $9,000, and Rep. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), $4,250.
No member of Congress has received more help from the company than Senate Majority Leader Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.), who sponsored the original 1978 amendment providing a federal fuel tax break for gasohol and at least 12 other bills designed to promote the product. In 1980, Dole sponsored the first tariff on alcohol imports -- a measure that former Rep. Charles Vanik (D-Ohio) denounced at the time as "a steal for the benefit of one company" -- ADM.
"Our primary goal was not to help any one company," said Dole recently about his aid for alcohol fuels. "I'm a farm-state senator, and our interest was in finding an outlet for some farm commodities . . . I don't know anything about ADM."
Today, ADM co-sponsors Dole's regular daily "Face-Off" radio debate with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) on the Mutual Broadcasting System. Dole took three free trips to Midwest speaking engagements on ADM airplanes in 1983 and received at least $19,000 in personal campaign contributions from Dwayne O. Andreas and members of his family during his last three political campaigns. In January of this year, ADM's political action committee chipped in another $7,500 to Dole's 1986 re-election bid.
Dole has also developed a personal friendship with Andreas. When Dole traveled to Moscow on a congressional trip in 1982, Andreas came along. Dole and his wife, Secretary of Transportation Elizabeth Hanford Dole, spend some vacations at the Seaview Hotel in Florida. Andreas is chairman of the hotel's board of directors. Elizabeth Dole and her brother purchased a $150,000 Seaview hotel apartment in 1982, according to her financial disclosure statement.
"He's a great senator and we support him," said Andreas when asked about Dole. "But I've never talked to him about any political matter. Why would I? The wheat growers deal with Dole. The cooperatives deal with Dole . . . He doesn't need me."
Dole's support for gasohol has often proven crucial, according to congressional staffers and industry officials. Late last year, gasohol groups discovered some U.S. importers were escaping the alcohol tariff by mixing Brazilian ethanol with additives to create a new alcohol fuel "blend" that the U.S. Customs Service had ruled was not subject to the duties.
Last December, Dole wrote Customs Commissioner William Von Raab protesting the Customs ruling, following up with another letter on July 17 to Von Raab's boss, Treasury Secretary James A. Baker III. After more protests from other farm state legislators, the Customs Service reversed itself on Aug. 5. The agency slapped the importers with heavy duties, slamming the door on a potential flood of imports.
Dole said his protest of the Customs ruling was only in response to concerns that an influx of blended ethanol would undermine federal policy aimed at promoting a domestic industry and ultimately hurt U.S. corn farmers. As for his ties to Andreas, Dole said, "He's a friend. You're allowed to have friends in this business without doing anything wrong."
Dole is far from the only official to help out ADM's alcohol business. During the 1980 debate over an alcohol tariff, the Justice Department, the Special Trade Represenative's office and the Treasury Department all objected to a tariff on the grounds that it would raise costs to consumers, provoke a trade war with Brazil and grant too much market power to ADM. But on Oct. 29, 1980 -- during the last week of the election campaign -- then-President Jimmy Carter suddenly overruled his agencies and ordered Treasury Secretary G. William Miller to impose the tariff -- by administrative means if necessary.
The move came after an Oct. 7 White House luncheon that Carter hosted for a small group of campaign contributors, including Andreas. Former ADM lobbyist Joseph Karth was quoted by the Minneapolis Tribune in December 1980 as saying that Andreas promised Carter that he would announce plans for a big new alcohol fuels plant in Iowa -- a state crucial to Carter -- if the administration would impose a tariff on alcohol imports.
Andreas in a recent interview at first denied he had met with Carter during that period, then later called back a reporter to acknowledge that the meeting may have taken place. "I've been to lots of meetings in the White House," he said, insisting that he "absolutely" never discussed the alcohol issue with the president.
But ADM received a key boost at the time from Carter campaign chairman Robert Strauss, another close friend of Andreas who shortly after the election became a member of ADM's board of directors. According to notes kept by former White House domestic counselor Stuart Eisenstat, Strauss called Eisenstat on Oct. 29 and urged that the president immediately impose the tariff, saying he could "get some additional large announcements to expand domestic alcohol capacity if this can be done."
The reference, Eisenstat and Strauss recently agreed, was to Andreas' promise to announce his new gasohol plant in Iowa if the tariff were imposed. "ADM did make that commitment," says Eisenstat. "I'm sure that ADM's views had an impact."
ADM announced its new gasohol plant on Oct. 31, but later canceled the plant because of local criticism.