John McCain: Bought and Paid For

In one of the least surprising developements in political history, we recently learned that McCain pulled down a lot of money from oil company executives around the time he decided to reverse his earlier position (He's a Republican, so he doesn't flip-flop) and endorse offshore drilling as the core of his energy policy.

How much did he cost? More than I can afford, but less than a more principled politician would. From the Washington Post ("Industry Gushed Money After Reversal on Drilling" 7/27/08):

Campaign contributions from oil industry executives to Sen. John McCain rose dramatically in the last half of June, after the senator from Arizona made a high-profile split with environmentalists and reversed his opposition to the federal ban on offshore drilling.

Oil and gas industry executives and employees donated $1.1 million to McCain last month -- three-quarters of which came after his June 16 speech calling for an end to the ban -- compared with $116,000 in March, $283,000 in April and $208,000 in May.

The RNC, which can raise about 10 times as much from each individual as candidates can, also got a piece of the action. From TalkingPointsMemo:

Even more interestingly, though, many of these contributions are, shall we say, suspicious. Take the office manager for Hess and her husband the Amtrak worker, who rent an apartment in Queens. Fine, honorable, work that surely earns a decent living. Decent enough, in fact, for them to each donate $28,000 to McCain and the RNC. That's $56,000 in political contributions. I guess whatever McCain owes Hess better tricke down.

The Washington Post has more on a suspicious bundler from McCain. Among one of his donors for McCain:

Abdullah Abdullah, a supervisor at several Taco Bell restaurants in the Riverside area, and his wife have donated $9,200 to McCain.

Reached at work, Abdullah said he knows little about the campaign. "I have no idea. I'll be honest with you," he said. "I'm involved in the restaurant business. My brother Faisal recommended John McCain. Whenever he makes a recommendation, we do it."

Faisal Abdullah, 49, said he helped organize all of the contributions from members of his family. When he was asked who solicited the contributions from him, he said: "Why does it matter who? I'm telling you we made the contribution. We funneled it through the channel in Florida because that's the contact we had. I was responsible for collecting it."

Back to McCain and his big oil buddies, though. As everyone knows, the additional supply from offshore drilling is far too small to have any noticeable impact on the global price of oil. That doesn't mean it's worthless to the oil companies, however. At over $100 a barrel, a few billion barrels is a very attractive target for oil companies, even if it is more expensive to extract and will take many years. Furthermore, the additional future income is a bankable asset for the companies to borrow against and that the market would price into their stocks. They want the oil, and the environmental tradeoffs that the communities would make aren't really their concern. At all.