A coalition of advocacy groups filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission today over Chevron Corp.’s $2.5 million donation to a super-political action committee aligned with House Speaker John Boehner.
Chevron’s donation to the Congressional Leadership Fund was one of the few contributions from a publicly traded company to a super-PAC. The groups, including Public Citizen and Friends of the Earth, said the donation violated federal law because federal contractors are not allowed to make political contributions. San Ramon, California-based Chevron received $661 million in contracts from the Defense Department in the 2011 fiscal year, according to Bloomberg Government.
Super-PACs were approved by the FEC in 2010 following the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which overturned decades of legislation and court decisions restricting corporate contributions for political purposes. Such PACs are allowed to take in unlimited corporate, union and individual donations and spend the money to elect or defeat those running for office, though must disclose their contributors and cannot give directly to a candidate’s campaign.
“The ‘pay-to play’ prohibition exists because of a long and seedy record of companies attempting to buy lucrative government business by filling the campaign coffers of politicians,” said Craig Holman, a lobbyist for Public Citizen, which supports stronger campaign finance laws.
Chevron spokesman Lloyd Avram said the donation came from the parent company, which “does not conduct business with the federal goverment.” All federal contracts are held by corporate subsidiaries, he said.
“Chevron does not believe that the federal government contractor ban applies to this specific contribution,” Avram said.
In any event, the FEC is unlikely to take any action.
It has routinely deadlocked along party lines, 3-3, on enforcement measures.