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Energy Companies Build Power Base in Statehouses

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As the price of oil continues to climb, the effects ripple across the country, affecting everything from the price of clothes that are shipped by truck to Wal-Mart stores to home-heating oil. The effects will force state policy-makers to balance the needs of their voting constituencies with those of their donor constituencies. The influence of the latter goes well beyond the vote totals on Election Day.

The energy industry has put more than $134.7 million1 into state-level candidates and party committees in the past decade, according to an analysis of contribution data compiled and posted to the Web by the Institute on Money in State Politics. Almost 70 percent of that money was given to winning and incumbent candidates who decided public-policy issues in the legislative sessions that followed the elections. In 2002 alone, the companies gave $49.4 million.