Today The New York Times has a long story about the hand-in-glove relationship between big donors from the energy industry and Republican state attorneys general:
The letter to the Environmental Protection Agency from Attorney General Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma carried a blunt accusation: Federal regulators were grossly overestimating the amount of air pollution caused by energy companies drilling new natural gas wells in his state.Democrats may be infuriatingly corporatist much of the time, but the better Democrats at least acknowledge the existence of stakeholders other than the fat cats, and craft legislation and regulation to acknowledge some of those stakeholders' concerns. By contrast, modern-day Republicans, almost without exception, believe there should be absolutely no separation of industry and state.
But Mr. Pruitt left out one critical point. The three-page letter was written by lawyers for Devon Energy, one of Oklahoma’s biggest oil and gas companies, and was delivered to him by Devon's chief of lobbying.
"Outstanding!" William F. Whitsitt, who at the time directed government relations at the company, said in a note to Mr. Pruitt's office. The attorney general's staff had taken Devon's draft, copied it onto state government stationery with only a few word changes, and sent it to Washington with the attorney general's signature. "The timing of the letter is great, given our meeting this Friday with both E.P.A. and the White House."
The email exchange from October 2011, obtained through an open-records request, offers a hint of the unprecedented, secretive alliance that Mr. Pruitt and other Republican attorneys general have formed with some of the nation's top energy producers to push back against the Obama regulatory agenda, an investigation by The New York Times has found.
Attorneys general in at least a dozen states are working with energy companies and other corporate interests, which in turn are providing them with record amounts of money for their political campaigns, including at least $16 million this year....
And it's no surprise that this erasure of the boundary between industry and government is taking place at the state level. At Lawyers, Guns & Money, Erik Loomis writes:
There's a reason that corporations love state regulators and state politicians -- they can easily buy them for cheap.Which also explains why right-wingers who claim to revere every word of the Constitution have made a crusade of trying to repeal the 17th Amendment, which, since its passage in 1913, has allowed U.S. senators to be directly elected by voters. Prior to the amendment's passage, U.S. senators were chosen by state legislatures.
It costs a hell of a lot less to buy a few state legislators than it does to buy a U.S. Senate seat in the current system, because running for the U.S. Senate involves purchase a significant amount of TV advertising, in a way that running for a seat in the state legislature doesn't. In the most expensive U.S. Senate race in the country in 2014, in North Carolina, outside groups spent $81 million; compare that to the $9 million that was spent by outside groups on all state legislative and judicial races in North Carolina.
Buying state government is, relatively speaking, a bargain for fat cats. So of course they want the 17th Amendment repealed. It just makes good business sense.