Special interest lobbyists are flocking to support their former colleague and establishment favorite Senator Luther Strange (R-AL) in the September 26 Alabama U.S. Senate Republican primary runoff election contest against conservative champion Judge Roy Moore.
According to the most recent Federal Election Commission records, as of July 26, Strange has raised more than $2.9 million for his Senate campaign, much of it from lobbyists, political action committees, and wealthy individuals. Strange has also benefited from more than $2.5 million spent on his behalf by the Senate Leadership Fund, a Super PAC associated with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
In contrast, Judge Moore has raised only $456,000 for his U.S. Senate campaign as of July 26, according to FEC records. Every donation has come from private individuals. Not a single political action committee donation appears in the list of contributions.
Strange is no stranger to the rituals of the Washington, D.C. swamp in which financially powerful businesses, associations, and unions hire well-connected K Street lobbyists to gain with members of the House and Senate through significant financial donations in return for support of legislation that benefits their clients.
Strange has made sure those checks were delivered in the past, serving for many years as a registered lobbyist in Washington for Alabama based Sonat Inc., and now he is asking his former lobbyist clients to return the favor by writing checks to his own campaign to keep the U.S. Senate seat that was given to him in February by former and now-disgraced Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, a Republican, in what one prominent Alabama real estate developer called “a corrupt bargain.”
“Sonat Inc. [was] a Birmingham-based natural gas utility that was an Alabama economic powerhouse for much of the 20th century,” AL.com reported back in 2010:
Strange was hired by Sonat in 1980 as a young lawyer straight out of Tulane University. He was promoted to head of the company’s Washington office in 1985 and represented Sonat in Congress until 1994, when Strange left the company but continued to represent it as a contract lobbyist.
“In the 1980s and 1990s, Strange was a registered lobbyist in Washington for Sonat and Transocean Offshore Drilling Co,” The National Ocean Industries Association notes.
Lobbyists from Alabama and around the country have eagerly delivered financial support to Strange’s campaign.
According to an Open Secrets analysis of the most recent Federal Election reports, the Strange for Senate campaign has been funded by a top-tier of Alabama law firms and special interests. As of the July 26, 2017 FEC report filed by his campaign, Strange had raised $2.9 million. The leading contributors include:
Cunningham Bounds LLC, $37,800 total from individuals employed by the company.
McWane Inc. $32,400 total from individuals employed by the company.
Maynard, Cooper & Gale $28,000 total; $23,000 from individuals employed by the company and $5,000 from the company’s political action committee.
Vulcan Materials $24,500; $14,500 from individuals employed by the company and $10,000 from the company’s political action committee.
HealthSouth Corp $24,400; $19,400 from individuals employed by the company and $5,000 from the company’s political action committee.
Cunningham Bounds is a personal injury law firm based in Mobile, Alabama.
McWane Inc. is a Birmingham, Alabama based company that “cast[s] ductile iron products — including pipe, valves, hydrants, fittings, and plumbing products — manufacture fire extinguishers, fire suppression systems, steel pressure vessels, and build network switches and monitoring equipment.”
Maynard, Cooper & Gale is a prestigious Alabama law firm known for its expertise in Alabama state and local economic incentive packages of the sort Strange would have had oversight review during his tenure as Attorney General for Alabama between 2011 and 2017.
Vulcan Materials, based in Birmingham, Alabama, is “the nation’s largest producer of construction aggregates—primarily crushed stone, sand and gravel—and a major producer of aggregates-based construction materials, including asphalt and ready-mixed concrete.”
HealthSouth Corporation, based in Birmingham, Alabama, is “one of the nation’s largest providers of post-acute healthcare services and through the acquisition of Encompass Home Health and Hospice, an industry leader in home-based patient care. ”
Special interest donations to the Strange campaign are not limited to Alabama based companies. In fact, Strange’s reach to lobbyists is nationwide, as this list of political action committees that have donated $5,000 or more (some donated $5,000 for the primary election and an additional $5,000 for the general election), taken from the July 26, 2017 FEC reports indicates:
VEN-PAC STRANGE FOR SENATE
FEDEX CORPORATION POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (FEDEXPAC)
ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY PAC STRANGE FOR SENATE
OORAH! POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE
UNITED STATES STEEL CORPORATION POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE
DIRIGO PAC STRANGE FOR SENATE
ONE GEORGIA PAC STRANGE FOR SENATE
AMERICAN GAS ASSOCIATION POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE
NATIONAL PAC INC A/K/A NATPAC
PEANUTPAC OF ALABAMA
AMERICAN PEANUT SHELLERS ASSOCIATION POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE
COZEN O’CONNOR POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE
MID MANHATTAN POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (MID PAC)
HEWLETT PACKARD ENTERPRISE COMPANY PAC (HPE PAC)
OPPORTUNITY AND RESPONSIBILITY RESTORED IN OUR NATION PAC
MARATHON PETROLEUM CORPORATION EMPLOYEES POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (MPAC)
COMMON VALUES PAC
EXXON MOBIL CORPORATION POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (EXXONMOBIL PAC)
OPPORTUNITY AND RESPONSIBILITY RESTORED IN OUR NATION PAC
PROTECTIVE LIFE CORPORATION FEDERAL PAC STRANGE FOR SENATE
MAKING BUSINESS EXCEL POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE
COMMON VALUES PAC STRANGE FOR SENATE GENERAL VA
COCA-COLA BOTTLING COMPANY UNITED INC. COMMITTEE FOR GOOD GOVERNMENT
BLUE CROSS BLUE SHIELD OF ALABAMA PAC STRANGE FOR SENATE
TORCHMARK CORPORATION POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTE (TORCH-PAC)
ALABAMA POWER CO EMPLOYEES FEDERAL POLITICAL ACTION CMTE
MAYNARD COOPER & GALE PC PAC
HEARTLAND VALUES PAC
FREEDOM FUND STRANGE FOR SENATE
BLUEGRASS COMMITTEE STRANGE FOR SENATE
ELECT – THE PAC OF THE ALABAMA FARMERS FEDERATION
BLUE CROSS BLUE SHIELD OF ALABAMA PAC
RESPONSIBILITY AND FREEDOM WORK PAC (RFWPAC)
NEXT CENTURY FUND
ASSOCIATED BUILDERS AND CONTRACTORS POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (ABC PAC)
THE COUNCIL OF INSURANCE AGENTS & BROKERS POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE
AMERICAN CRYSTAL SUGAR COMPANY POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE
REYNOLDS AMERICAN INC. POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE; RAI PAC
COUNTRY FIRST POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE, INC. (COUNTRY FIRST PAC)
TRINITY INDUSTRIES EMPLOYEE POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (SF) INC.
Dozens of additional political action committees have donated over $1,000 to the Strange for Senate campaign.
Lobbyists have also contributed heavily to the Senate Leadership Fund, the Super PAC associated with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) that has contributed over $2.5 million so far this campaign cycle to support Strange’s candidacy and attack Judge Moore’s candidacy.
Of the $11 million the Senate Leadership Fund has raised this campaign cycle, according to FEC records, lobbyists have been prominent contributors, and thereby indirectly contributed to the Strange campaign.
According to the most recent FEC records, the following wealthy individuals and corporations have donated more than $100,000 to the Senate Leadership Fund so far in 2017:
MARCUS, BERNARD MR. $2,000,000
SINGER, PAUL ELLIOTT $1,000,000
AI ALTEP HOLDINGS INC $1,000,000
COHEN, STEVEN A. MR. $1,000,000
CHEVRON SENATE LEADERSHIP FUND $700,000
FERTITTA, LORENZO J. MR. $500,000
FERTITTA, FRANK J. MR. III $500,000
BK 2 HOLDINGS $500,000
NEXTERA ENERGY $500,000
BUCKLEY, WALTER MR. JR. $300,000
FOX, SAM $250,000
OBERNDORF, WILLIAM E. MR. $250,000
RUFFIN, PHILLIP G. MR. $250,000
JORNAYVAZ, ROBERT P. MR. III $200,000
OCCIDENTAL PETROLEUM $100,000
C.V. STARR & COMPANY INC $100,000
ROBERT A DAY TRUST $100,000
STERN, MARC I. MR. $100,000
BERKOWITZ, BRUCE MR. $100,000
GEO CORRECTIONS HOLDINGS INC. $100,000
In contrast to the financial contributions from lobbyists, wealthy individuals, and large corporations flowing in to support the Strange campaign and attack the Moore campaign with donations to both the Strange for Senate campaign committee and the Senate Leadership Fund, Judge Moore’s financial support has been modest.
Since announcing his campaign for the U.S. Senate earlier this year, Judge Moore had raised only $456,000 by July 26, the date of the most recent FEC reports, those reports show, and not a single donation had been made at that time from a political action committee.