Last updated on 2011.01.04
...and Al Franken's a bargain!
Poet PR man Nathan Schock tells us that's just the cost of doing business:
In the meantime, ethanol supporters will continue to raise their political profile within an energy sector that has long been dominated by big-spending oil and natural gas interests. And they will continue to use campaign contributions as part of this outreach.
"Like every industry, we support candidates who understand and support our issues," Schock told OpenSecrets Blog [Michael Beckel, "Senators Supporting Ethanol Subsidies Reap Riches from Corn Interests," OpenSecretsblog, 2011.01.03].
Schock's counterpart at Nebraska's Growth Energy, which spent $1.2 million on lobbying in 2010, says that's peanuts:
"Ethanol could never match our political opponents dollar for dollar," Chris Thorne continued. "Big Oil and Big Food flood Washington, D.C., with lobbyists, paid media and campaign donations. But even while we fight above our weight class, we can win the debate because the facts are on our side" [Beckel, 2011].
Dang it, Big Ethanol, don't go appealing to my underdog sympathies. I'll get all confused. But the ethanol guys do have a point. They are pikers compared to Monsanto, which spent $6 million on federal lobbying last year. Compare that with oil giant BP, which perhaps understandably scaled back lobbying to $5.18 million last year, down from just shy of $16 million in 2009.
Beckel discusses these dollar figures in a broader accounting of the parallel between campaign donations and support for ethanol. The fifteen U.S. Senators who signed a November 30 letter urging renewal of the ethanol blender's credit and the ethanol import tariff (together worth 99 cents a gallon). Our Senators Thune and Johnson signed that letter, as did our neighbors Senators Grassley, Harkin, Nelson, Johanns, Dorgan, Conrad, Klobuchar, and even that Franken character. Interestingly, while those ten senators collected an average of $13,730 in donations from six major ethanol promoters in 2010, Senator Franken only got a measly $1000--from Poet!--and he still supported extending the ethanol subsidies for one more year.
Update 2011.01.04: National Review's Katrina Trinko includes Senator Thune among Midwestern Republicans she brands "Cornhucksters." Hmm... could subsidy-loving Republicans provoke backlash among the Teapublicans similar to the dissatisfaction Stephanie Herseth Sandlin sowed among her Democratic base with her center-swinging Blue-Doggery?