Outcasts in Washington, BP Turns to … Indiana?

Flickr/<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/75905404@N00/505688957/">OZinOH</a> (<a href="http://www.creativecommons.org">Creative Commons</a>).

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BP’s donations to federal candidates have stopped in the three months since the Deepwater Horizon disaster began. But that doesn’t mean the oil giant has stopped all political activity. BP’s political action committee spent nothing on federal candidates in June, according to a new report from the Center for Responsive Politics. But the company’s PAC gave $27,300 to candidates for state office–and that’s not including the free tickets to see Britney Spears or the Sacramento Kings.

All 80 recipients in June were from Indiana; in May the company gave $8,250 in contributions to 10 state-level candidates in California. The company has clearly been spending less on candidates, but it’s not hard up for cash. In June the PAC reported $19,800 in income and had $299,500 in cash on hand at the end of the month.

BP PAC’s scaled back investment in federal candidates is perhaps unsurprising. No one–not even the lawmakers who have defended BP in hearings—wants to be caught taking money from the company right now. House Energy Committee member Charlie Gonzalez (D-Texas) was the only federal candidate offered money from the PAC in May, and he pledged to not accept BP’s check. “They’re certainly been a lot of political push back,” said Michael Beckel, a former Mother Jones editorial fellow who reports on money in politics for CRP. “We’ve seen Democrats and Republicans pledge to refuse contributions, pledge to return contributions, or donate the money to charity to get rid of taint that might be associated with taking money from BP right now.”

BP’s PAC has donated more than $79,000 to federal candidates since January 2009, but that was before this oil disaster got in the way of their blatant attempts to influence federal policy.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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