An Energy and Policy Institute analysis of the Republican Governors Association, Republican Attorneys General Association, Republican State Leadership Committee, Democratic Governors Association, Democratic Attorneys General Association, and Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee found over 70 utility holding companies and subsidiaries contributing to the groups for a total of $36.4 million from 2008 through 2017.
All six political organizations are registered as Section 527 political organizations by the Internal Revenue Service, which means they can accept unlimited donations from corporations or individuals.
The Republican Governors Association was by far the largest recipient of the industry’s money. It has received $18.6 million from utilities over the past ten years.
Investigative reports over the years have revealed how these organizations connect companies that contribute – depending on the size of the donation – to elected officials and their staff for private policy discussions. For instance, in 2014, the New York Times revealed how then-Attorney General Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma, now U.S. EPA Administrator, and other attorneys general had a “secretive alliance” through the Republican Governors Association with some of the largest fossil fuel companies to fight clean air and water regulations.
In 2017, the Republican Governors Association hosted a “Corporate Policy Summit.” One of the first agenda items was an energy session where attendees were able to discuss with the Republican governors and staff how to continue the fight against regulations.
In 2018, HuffPost reported that the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee hosted a conference in Portland, Maine where members who paid $35,000 or more were able to have one-on-one meetings with state legislators slated for 90 minutes. In addition to being able to privately meet with officials, donors were also able to participate with officials and staff in happy-hours, bowling, and dinners.
- Top 5 Utility Contributions to Republican IRS 527 Political Organizations, 2008-2017:
- NextEra Energy/Florida Power & Light ($5,482,429)
- Duke Energy/Progress Energy ($4,617,150)
- Southern Company and subsidiaries ($1,833,077)
- FirstEnergy/Allegheny Energy ($1,545,000)
- Edison Electric Institute ($1,083,470)
- Top 5 Utility Contributions to Democratic IRS 527 Political Organizations, 2008-2017:
- Duke Energy/Progress Energy ($1,906,250)
- Southern Company and subsidiaries ($1,254,400)
- Exelon and subsidiaries ($1,228,700)
- NextEra Energy/Florida Power & Light ($1,095,450)
- FirstEnergy/Allegheny Energy ($1,058,562)
EPI analyzed the IRS Form 8872 filings made by the six organizations and the Center for Responsive Politics 527 Search database to compile the data.