Nearly half of the contributions given to a federal political action committee closely tied to Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt came from the energy industry, according to Federal Election Commission documents.
The donations reflect the friendly relationship Pruitt has had with Oklahoma’s signature industry during his six years as attorney general. That relationship is now under renewed scrutiny after President-elect Donald Trump this week picked Pruitt to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which Pruitt has sued to overturn rules and regulations, including carbon emission standards.
In late 2014, the New York Times wrote of Pruitt’s close ties to the industry, in terms of crafting policy and in sizable donations to Pruitt’s state attorney general campaign committee.
Late last year, Oklahoma Watch reported the existence of two federal PACs that were housed in Pruitt’s Tulsa office, with Pruitt campaign consultants and staff working for them.
According to the most recent FEC filing for one PAC, Liberty 2.0, the energy industry gave $193,500, or 46 percent, of a total $420,011 raised from the beginning of 2015 to Sept. 30 this year.
Documents showing donations and expenditures for the rest of 2016 are not due to be filed until the end of January 2017.
Liberty 2.0 is a so-called “Super PAC” that can raise unlimited sums and spend money on advertising that supports or opposes candidates, but without coordinating with them.
The second federal political action committee tied to Pruitt – Oklahoma Strong Leadership – has raised nearly $327,000 since it was formed in 2015. Twenty percent came from the energy industry. That PAC that can accept limited contributions and donate to multiple candidates. In federal election filings, the PAC states it supported former Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, along with U.S. Sens. James Lankford and Jim Inhofe, Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.
All told, 27 percent of the nearly three-quarters of a million dollars raised by the groups was energy money, including from company executives, corporations, advocacy groups, and industry-tied political action committees. The energy donors represent the natural gas, oil, and coal industries, as well as power generation companies.
Although both groups raised substantial money, little was spent on advertising or donations, FEC records show.
Of the $318,941 spent since 2015 by Oklahoma Strong Leadership, only $31,350 was in the form of contributions, and no independent expenditures, which such groups often make on behalf of candidates. Of the $261,865 spent since 2015 by Liberty 2.0, a single $50,000 donation, to the federal Senate Leadership Fund PAC, was made on the last day of the filing period. The group made no independent expenditures.