Starkey Citizens for a Clean & Healthy Environment
Advocates Want Probe of Pro-Fracking Campaign Donations

ALBANY — A coalition of advocates called for a probe of campaign donations from pro-hydrofracking interests Monday, after a good-government group detailed more than $14 million in contributions to politicians and political parties since 2007.

According to Common Cause/NY, a total of 183 entities who support shale-gas drilling donated to political campaigns, with some of the state Legislature’s top fracking advocates on the receiving end.

Sen. Thomas Libous, R-Binghamton, was the biggest beneficiary among state lawmakers, with his campaign taking in $353,205, according to the analysis.

“Powerful businesses and industries which stand to benefit from fracking use campaign contributions to gain influence with their local lawmakers, candidates, and party organizations,” Common Cause/NY Executive Director Susan Lerner said in a statement. “We see a wide spectrum of fracking-related interests taking full advantage of New York’s lax campaign finance laws in the hope of a future payday if fracking is permitted.”

A total of 16 pro-drilling entities donated more than $250,000 since 2007, Common Cause found. They’re led by Hiscock & Barclay, an Albany-based law firm and lobbying group that has spent close to $753,000 on campaign donations. The firm declined comment.

The analysis included donations not just from the gas industry, but from firms, companies and unions who have supported shale-gas drilling. In most cases, the entities have interests in Albany other than fracking, including General Electric, the state Business Council and major law firms like Harris Beach. Hiscock & Barclay represents oil-and-gas companies and, through a subsidiary, pro-drilling landowners, along with various other energy, real estate and corporate interests.

Many of the contributions went to top lawmakers in the Legislature in the Southern Tier and western New York who support fracking, including Senate Energy Chairman George Maziarz, R-Newfane, Niagara County, whose campaign was on the receiving end of $178,830 from drilling supporters since 2007.

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