Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) wants her constituents to believe that she is a different kind of Democrat, one who supports her home state’s oil and gas industry, which accounts for nearly a tenth of its economy. But a recent Wall Street Journal report noted that Landrieu’s political action committee has given tens of thousands of dollars to help elect anti-oil and anti-gas Democrats:
Behind the scenes, however, Ms. Landrieu has been working just as hard to make sure she’s irrelevant. Through the auspices of JAZZ PAC, her leadership political action committee, she has from 2006 to 2012 contributed some $380,000 to re-elect some of the most ardent Senate opponents of the oil and gas industry. One result is a bloc of liberal members who easily cancel out Ms. Landrieu’s votes and guarantee the defeat of legislation designed to help Louisiana.
Ms. Landrieu has taken in more than $1 million in donations since 2004. Energy contributors include Marathon Oil, Murphy Oil, Sunoco, Coastal Land & Drilling, and lobby firms that do work for energy companies. Ms. Landrieu repays that support by funneling their money into the campaigns of members who routinely vote to undermine Louisiana oil and gas.
An example: In March 2012, Ms. Landrieu’s fellow Louisiana senator, Republican David Vitter, managed to get a vote on an amendment that would have implemented a 2008 offshore drilling plan to allow new oil and gas leases throughout the Outer Continental Shelf. Ms. Landrieu voted for the amendment.
But JAZZ PAC helped finance Democrats who defeated the Vitter amendment by 12 votes. Of the 48 Democrats who voted against Louisiana oil and gas that day, JAZZ PAC had contributed to 37 of them—more than $300,000 in total.
Though Landrieu has cast occasional show votes in support of the Keystone XL pipeline, this behavior is a compete betrayal of Louisiana. Unfortunately, it has become routine for her to vote against the interests of Louisiana.
For example, in 2009, Landrieu voted for Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who would later impose a moratorium on coastal drilling, causing many oil companies to leave the United States to leave the Gulf Coast to drill elsewhere.
And only did Landrieu support Salazar, she fawned over him during a hearing over his confirmation.
“It truly in some ways is a dream come true for some of us to have a person of your caliber and integrity and pureness of heart to run an agency that — and department that is truly in need of extraordinary reform and a man who has in his heart the capacity and background to fight for the people whose resources these are, and for a long time, they’ve not been managed well in many ways,” Landrieu told Salazar in January 2009.
“[A]nd so it really is an extraordinary opportunity, and I want to tell you will have my vote, you will have my support,” she continued, “and I’ll do everything I can to help meet the vision, to help you with the vision that you’ve outlined, which I think is ambitious, but most certainly necessary.”
Just a couple months later, Landrieu told Salazar, “I don’t believe the president could have made a better choice if he had looked all over the world, seriously, for a person to lead this department, than you.”
As many as 12,000 Louisiana workers lost their jobs because of the off-shore drilling moratorium.
But don’t worry Louisiana voters, Landrieu had worked hard to keep Democrats hostile to the state’s flourishing oil and gas industry in office:
JAZZ PAC has given $10,000 to California’s Barbara Boxer, who in September railed on the Senate floor against approval of the Keystone pipeline. She’s given $15,000 to Rhode Island’s Sheldon Whitehouse, a fan of more oil and gas taxes.
She’s given $12,500 to New Jersey’s Robert Menendez, who sent a letter this March, signed by seven fellow Democrats, opposing any bipartisan effort to expand drilling. Of the eight signers, JAZZ PAC had contributed to seven. Florida’s Bill Nelson, Vermont’s Patrick Leahy, Illinois’s Dick Durbin, Maryland’s Ben Cardin : Name an anti-oil-and-gas Democrat, and JAZZ PAC has helped get him elected.
But which Landrieu will Louisiana voters believe? The one who talks a tough game when it comes to one of her state’s most important industries or the one who tries play nice with anti-oil Democrats who want to put thousands of her constituents out of work?