Political action committees created by the oil and gas industry have already given more than $3 million to congressional candidates for the fall election and have another $1.2 million in their war chest, a citizens group reported last week.
The survey of 183 oil and gas industry PACs, made by the Citizens/Labor Energy Coalition, found that from January, 1981, through the end of May, those PACs accounted for nearly one quarter of all the dollars raised by corporate PACs.
"Oil company PAC contributions have reached such staggering heights that the companies now contribute as much to candidates as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee combined," said Robert Brandon, executive director of C/LEC.
Long considered one of the most aggressive and politically effective lobbies in Washington, the oil and gas industry has had its share of legislative wins and losses while it has been dispensing its money.
It won a number of tax breaks in the tax package adopted by Congress last year, and it was successful in getting a series of waivers that passed along some of the financial risk in building the Alaska natural gas pipeline from industry to consumers.
The industry, however, was unable to achieve one of its central legislative goals for the year--passage of an accelerated decontrol of natural gas prices. It hopes to bring the issue up again next year.
The C/LEC survey shows that Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Tex.) with $83,408 and Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) with $77,615 were the leading recipients of oil and gas money.
They were followed in the Senate races by Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.), $65,133; Sen. Malcolm Wallop (R-Wyo.), $59,400; Rep. James D. Santini (D), a candidate for the Senate in Nevada, $54,764; Sen. Harrison H. Schmitt (R-N.M.), $52,750; Sen. David F. Durenberger (R-Minn.), $41,950; and Rep. Cleve Benedict (R), a Senate candidate in West Virginia, $41,200.
On the House side, the leading recipients are Rep. Phil Gramm (D-Tex.), $66,750; Liles Williams, a Republican candidate in Mississippi, $35,237; Rep. James R. Jones (D-Okla.), $29,900; Rep. Clint Roberts (R-S.D.), $21,350; and Rep. Tom Loeffler (R-Tex.), $20,900.