Corporate American funneled more than $19.3 million into congressional and presidential campaigns last year through political action committees, with more than one dollar in three coming from oil and gas interests, two reports released yesterday indicate.
The first report, by the Federal Election Commission, showed that big business had formed 1,249 such committees, and, for the first time, they gave more to Republican than to Democratic candidates.
The corporate PACs gave Republican candidates $12.1 million and Democrats $7.1 million. Labor committees, true to tradition, gave $13.7 million to Democrats and $903,372 to Republicans.
The second report, issued by the liberal National Committee for an Effective Congress (NCEC), showed that committees connected to oil and gas interests gave $6 million to House and Senate candidates.
The study showed that all of the five candidates who received more than $100,000 from oil and gas interests were conservative Republicans who defeated liberal incumbent Democrats.
Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), who defeated Democrat John C. Culver in his Senate reelection bid, received $177,800; Sen. Steven D. Symms (R.-Idaho), who ousted Frank Church, $167,700; Sen James Abnor (R.-S.D.), who defeated George McGovern, $152,509; Sen. Dan Quayle (R-Ind.), who unseated Birch Bayh, $134,534, and Rep. Jack Fields (R-Tex.), who defeated Bob Eckhardt, who headed a House energy investigating subcommittee, $102,911.
Democrat Sen. Russell B. Long of Louisiana, a longtime friend of big oil, received $97,010, even though he had no opposition in the general election.
Oil and gas interests targeted their money where they thought it would help them most, the report indicates. Of House incumbents who received $5,000 or more, 40 percent of them had committe or subcommittee assignments of major importance to the industry. Another 20 percent had subcommittee assignments of secondary importance in related fields.
"This type of massive expenditure by a selfish special interest poses a real threat to our political process and the well-being of every American," said Russell Hemenway, national director of the NCEC. "The fact is the oil and gas PACs outspent the national Democratic Party committees."
The FEC report said all special interest committees spent a record $130.3 million during the 1980 election, more than double the amount during the 1976 election. PACs gave $27.4 million to Democratic House and Senate candidates, and $23.3 million to Republicans.
Various Republican campaing committees raised an additional $108.9 million -- nearly six times the receipts of Democratic counterparts. These figures were not included in the FEC report.