If you were wondering why Republicans declared all-out war on the Environmental Protection Agency immediately after their sweeping midterm victory, the answer can probably be found in their pockets.
According to data gathered by the Center for Responsive Politics and Kantar Media Intelligence, the fossil fuel industry directly invested $721 million into the 2014 midterm campaigns. The lion’s share went to Republican candidates, though a significant 20.5 percent went to Democrats.
This data comes from the reported spending of oil, coal, gas and electric utilities in the fields of campaign contributions, lobbying and advertising. The Center for American Progress notes that millions more were potentially spent in contributions to outside groups that are not required to disclose their donors, such as non-profits and super PACs led by Charles and David Koch.
In Last year’s elections, just two of these groups spent over $100 million on individual campaigns. According to the National Journal, the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity spent $77 million on various Senate and House races while their Freedom Partners Action Fund spent $25 million.
“The biggest decision strategically that we made was going so early with our ad effort,” AFP President Tim Phillips told the Journal. “When we launched last year, it was probably unprecedented for an off-year cycle. I don’t recall anyone spending tens of millions in early September through Memorial Day in an off-year.”
Last June, the Daily Beast reported that the Koch brothers’ network set a fundraising target of $290 million for the year.
The Koch brothers (who hold a combined wealth of $82 billion) are seasoned veterans of the campaign game. AFP spent $45 million on the 2010 midterm elections, and both Planet Expert Dr. Michael Mann and former vice-president Al Gore have pointed to the Kochs as major players in movements to spread climate change denial and deregulate the energy industry.